That concept is still very much alive in Europe. I suppose it didn't hold up in the US market. Hard to say why.
I think you're referring to Warehouse Sound - they were in San Luis Obispo, Ca. They had great prices, and a better range of gear than some of the chain outlets (ie the Circuit Cities of the day). I bought my Infinity Monitor IIa speakers there - still have them today.
I agree with you - they were cool, and it's too bad someone like them doesn't exist today. Crutchfield is the closest I've seen to applying their business model, but they don't have the range of home audio Warehouse had - rather they emphasize car gear.
Bdgregory: Yes, San Luis Obispo. I couldn't think of the city in California. I believe you're right, it was called Warehouse Sound. I really loved their assembled systems concept and components. It was the only store I knew of that carried such a variety of gear. It brings back memories. I could barely afford mid-fi in those days.
Now you folks lossened some old neurons. I purchased my Sansui 8080 from Pacific Stereo in the mid 70's. Played the daylights out of it until about five years ago. Now my daughter has it and is still jammin' in her apt. while she attends her 2nd year at Chico State. That behemoth is still rockin hard after 30 years.
Yes, I remember Pacific Stereo. They had their own "house" brands like "Quadraflex" spks. Remember Henry's in downtown L.A? (Bought my Kenwood seperates there.) I loved reading the L.A. Times Sunday classified ads for stereo gear! Lots of little stereo places which were wonderful to visit. You've brought back a whole lot of memories! Bill.
In the LA area there used to Cal Stereo (and their fast talking radio ads with Tom Campbell) pushing low budget gear, Leo's Stereo (also low budget gear), Rogers Sound Labs (good mid fi), Paris Audio (Nak, KEF, B&K, etc), Dow Sound, Federated (with Shadoe Stevens as "Fred Rated").
Someone at Pacific Stereo tried "bait and switch" on me in the 70's. They had an advertised system with a Kenwood receiver that they were sold out of and he tried to push the "house brand" receiver in it's place saying "it had the same number of buttons on the front" as the Kenwood. No thanks.