Audiophile 'Attitude'

Okay, we love our hobby: we love the music, the equipment, the esoterica, and the deranged quest for perfection the likes of which would make even the greats of classical composition shake their heads. But you've got to admit that there exists a certain 'attitude' among some of our group that can be..... difficult. Often this is sexist, arrogant, elitist, impatience, and so on. I think this would be a fertile ground for interesting stories, some humorous and some just jaw dropping. Would anyone like to share? Remember, there are many stories about those other folks outside the hobby who don't get our brilliance and force us to painfully tolerate their ignorance, I'm talking 'bout the other side: WHEN

I will gladly start: when my wife and I decided to sell our entire Vandersteen home theater (this is different tale of audiophile arrogance, btw) we started looking for a new brand and a new sound to replace my
formerly beloved Vandys. My first 'target' was Martin Logan. It just so happened that there was a ML dealership less than a mile from where I lived at the time in Champaign, IL. Wonderful I thought! So my wife and I toddled over there.

Now it should be noted that my wife has become quite an audiophile herself. She wasn't this way when we met, but she has become fairly well educated in matters of audiophillia, she has an excellent ear, and she is a brilliant woman (she is a vice president for Bank of America after all). So we choose much of our equipment together.

So we go into this ML dealership with about four CDs In hand to get a brief audition and ask to hear some MLs. Instead of going straightaway to letting us listen the salesman decides he needs to try and 'sell' us on the MLs, the very speakers we'd come to hear in the first damn place! So after tolerating his drivel for a few minutes my wife's asks a question. Instead of answering her, he answers me.... then he turns to my wife and, while pointing to that screen with holes that MLs have on so many of their speakers, he says, "now this isn't here so you can hang clothes to dry."

It honestly took me a second to realize what he had just said and I think my wife wafinally looted. After a couples seconds I said, "well, I guess we won't want these speakers then." And we walked out. We also scratched Martin Logan off of our list. No one treats my wife that way.

Okay, your turn....
It was the Audio show two shows ago in NYC .. my wife .. an attractive Italian who looks like she has been shot in the back by two Scud missiles .. and I were cruising the halls

We stopped in a room that had these massive wooden horn speakers .. a cathedral of tubes and a vinyl set up that cost more than a 3 series BMW new

I was over looking at the giant wooden speakers and my wife drifted over to the vinyl set up were she was checking out the album covers

The proprietor a very well dressed Asian gentleman spots my wife and moseys over to her and asks ... “So what type of music do you enjoy”

Without batting an eye or taking them off the album cover she was looking at ... her reply was ... “both kinds Country and Western”

The expression on the guy’s face was Priceless as he walked away shaking his head

Guess he didn’t have any John Cash with him to play for her
I hope you remember the salesman's name. If you do, I would call the dealership, find out who the owner is and arrange to speak to him. Even if you don't remember the name of the salesman, you can describe him. I would quote exactly what the salesman said to the owner, and arrange to audition the Martin Logans with a different salesman. I would not let the salesman get away with such ignorance and the owner not knowing about it.
I would never think of switching to ML from Vandys, but that's just my personal opinion.
Having the fact of having such a "salesman" already tells about the rest of ML customer service and they're far far not the best speakers at the same price point you can have in your set up.
Having my jewish heritage, I would negotiate with such sailsman to knock 50% off anything I'd want to buy or 'Please call your manager':-).
If you want to take an example of great customer service, you should visit Best Buy where such idiot wouldn't hold on even a second after he spells that to the customer.
Hey, that salesman could of been the owner!
It is time you, and your audio smart wife visited Lyric in New York City. It is only fair that before either of you die, you be subject to real 'Audiophile Attitude'. No place does it better, well Andy Singer is a close second. Hopefully when you go to Lyric both of you will merit a visit to the 'basement', which is reserved for the 'attitude' elite. Don't get me wrong, all Lyric sales people, including the new owners, were well trained by Mr. Kay, the founder. Bring your financial statements, bank and brokerage, for without them you will be classed as unworthy of any attention. Hey, it is an experience that will change the way both of you view 'audiophile'. Enjoy the music.
That is a funny story. Gotta love it when they assume things about you and your wife. He probably didn't even know what he did wrong. If you really wanted to get him good you should have wasted about 2 hours of his time and then left without buying anything.

I think Best Buy is where ML is being sold these days. In my area Best Buy bought out Magnolia Hifi (which carries ML) and ruined it. They still use the name Magnolia Hifi but its just a shell of it's former self. Martin Logan deserves better representation than this. I guess they are getting more exposure with Best Buy but the quality service is lower.
Was welcomed into my local audio shop to audition a pair of LessLoss Anchorwave speaker cables on a system I hope to own someday. The manager—who had never heard of LessLoss—quickly points out, in comparison to the Siltec 770L which was already hooked up—that I was about to be terribly disappointed. (This is what he says with a grin on his face to his audiophile friend, as we begin hooking them up). I really don't care if he's had 20 or so years experience in the business, that's just pure arrogance. The outcome of this is a different story altogether.
Buconero, LOL! On 4/1 I put $600 shoes onto my feet, classy designer jeans, Replay couture shirt/jacket and sunning looking fake Rolex(super nice job indeed!), went to Sound By Singer, attracted a few salesman and asked for budget cartridge for my Pioneer DD turntable... Next time I should do that with hidden camera:)
Once upon a time i was browsing at my favorite local high-end emporium, and the sales manager came over and asked that in a few minutes, a gentleman and his attorney from South America had made an appointment to stop by, and they were "temporarily" closing the store so he could do some shopping. and then
the time had arrived, and two well dressed men came in. the store owner was front and center to shake hands and do the introductions, and i nodded and smiled as i went out the door.
it was no big deal, but it was a big store and i would not have been in the
way in any case. but the atmosphere of "there's guy-A with $,$$$ and then there's guy-B with $,$$$$,$$$" gave me a bit of an inferiority complex.
another time a guy drives up in a new Porsche 911, walks in to the store,
"grabs" the latest pair of Transparent speaker cables ($10K at the time) from the waiting salesman, tells him he'll bring them back on Monday, and drives off in an rush to make his next stop.
i didn't think to ask if i could borrow them next...
I often wonder while reading threads like this, how many of the examples given of arrogant salesmen are actually thin-skinned audiophiles that can't take a joke.
Weinhart Designs in Bel Air, California (that's right next door to Beverly Hills) takes the cake when it comes to Eliteist, condescending customer service. The guy used to own Ambrosia Audio years ago, but changed the name to his own namesake at some point. If you are a Grammy winning recording engineer, or a Movie mogul, or Movie star, or a Professional NBA star, or a Doctor, or a Lawyer, or just a plain 'ol Millionaire with a few Bentley's and a MIGHT get courteous service. Otherwise count on him to ignore you for long periods of time while he sits in his office and yaps on the phone with "other" more important customers than you. He CAN be a nice fellow when he wants to be, as I have seen that "side" of him once. But that's usually reserved for when you actually make a real purchase from him. Which I did. But as the story goes, I contacted the owner about a pair of German speakers he had advertised for sale right here on Audiogon. He had the audacity to tell me (#1) that I could not afford them. (#2) they were not the "right" speakers for me and that I should ultimately purchase something different based upon my current line-up of equipment (at the time.) And (#3) they were a "show off" speaker and really did not offer the best sound available at which point he tried to steer me in a different direction. All very presumptious and judgemental approaches from a guy who sells really "top shelf" and expensive gear to the "upper crust" Audiophiles down in L.A.
I ultimately traveled over 4 hours from my home, to his shop in Bel Air...and I DID end up purchasing those German speakers that HE had told me over the phone that I COULD NOT AFFORD, and which were not the "RIGHT" speakers for me.
When I got to Southern California with CASH IN HAND, his "attitude" toward me changed dramatically and all of a sudden these were the "best" speakers ever for me, and were going to "work wonders" and sound "fabulous" his opinion. Complete turncoat attitude from my phone conversation with him a week earlier. Now I'm standing in his store and he's my best buddy!
I loved those MBL 111e's I purchased from him. Those speakers totally kicked ass beyond all my expectations and sounded wonderful being run by my big 'ol Krell MDA 300 monoblocks and Theta Digital front end gear. My BAT VK 51se preamp mated with Krell produced the smoothest presentation, coupled with ball-crushing bass "slam" and deep extention. Too bad Weinhart told me I wouldn't like them, and that they were way too expensive for me, and to buy something else...'cause I was soooooooo disappointed after I bought them (sarcasm intended). I owned those 111e's for 3 years and loved them the whole time. I sold them a few years back and replaced them with MBL 101e Mk2's which clearly were not purchased from my "Buddy" in Bel Air. Oh, and by the way, My new 101e Mk2's probably were not the "right" speakers for me either, and God knows I probably CAN'T afford them either!! (more sarcasm intended). They sound absoultely killer being driven by my NEW B.A.T. VK600se Monoblock Amps, (which I'm sure I cannot afford), that Weinhart Designs also is a dealer for. Too bad for him. Brand spanking new MBL 101e Mk2's (still in the crates fresh from Germany)- 67 Thousand dollars a pair. Brand spanking new B.A.T. Vk 600se mono block amps- 26 thousand dollars a pair. Purchased elsewhere from someone who didn't try to tell me I couldn't afford that caliber of gear-PRICELESS.

Damn pious, eliteist highend audio dealers! Can't stand 'em. Judging customers, being rude, then changing their tune completely when the cash is bad business. Point of it all is to treat everybody with kindness and respect, right? Be a professional. Take care of people and (most of the time) they will come back to you and give you their return business. Screw them, and they'll go elsewhere. Those pompous dealers with "attitude" will never know why customers like me don't come back. One day they won't be at the top of their game anymore, and wonder what happened? So many once popular, once successful, highend audio stores have gone out of business. They just needed to learn how to treat people right.

Real experiences like the one I had profoundly affected how, and with whom I now take my business to.

Ok, so now I'll get off my soap box. Hope others reading this thread will contibute their experiences as I'm sure there are some real loo-loo's out there.
In a "high-end" shop several years ago, I asked if they carried any turntables. The response was "why would you want one of those dinosaurs-they're extinct." He then proceeded to tell me why cd sound was much better (plus his explaination on how a cd player reads information was incorrect). In hindsight, this was not a real "high-end" shop but a mid-fi-sell-you-whatever-I-can type of place. Its long out of business.

I wonder how many people were interested in the high-end, who were turned off by bad advice and/or arrogant behavior?
These are interesting stories. I guess the lessons I draw from this thread are (in no particular order):

1. This is sort of an elitest hobby, in some ways (and I know some folks -- mostly bicyclists and woodworkers of my acquaintance -- who would scoff at calling it a hobby, by the way -- too much focus on "buying" and too little on "making" or "doing"), and I suppose some salespeople play to that element. That's their choice, and the only time I resent it is if I have gone out of my way to visit the store, not realizing that I'm not welcome because I do not appear affluent enough (it has only happened twice, but boy is it irritating). We're not going to change those folks, so all we can do is avoid them.

2. Dissing the female of the species is ALWAYS a mistake (like that's news!).

3. Really good salespeople know that it is very dangerous, these days in particular, to judge a book by its cover. I once worked for a very, very wealthy man (you'll find him on the Forbes 400 list to this day) who drove a beat up, 10-year-old Chevy with a caved-in front passenger door that didn't open. It doesn't pay to assume too much based on clothes or age or gender.
Don't cross Martin Logan Speakers off of your list just because a sales person was a real jerk. They did not own the company, just the store and there are several examples of store owners or dealers that were pompus or jerks. However, I simply searched and found very good stores and dealers that were "human" and treated me as I expect to be treated. If you like Martin Logan sound, then go audition them from someone else. Same is true for any other piece of equipment. Discrimination take shape in many forms. Race, sex, religious, audiophile store dealer discrimination, etc. I refuse to pay anyone for bad service. I simply go somewhere else. I experienced similar treatment from a dealer that sold Martin Logan speakers. They sold many other high end pieces of equipment also. that didn't turn me off to Martin Logan, just that dealer. I still bought my Martin Logan speakers and the Mark Levinson 23.5 that he also used in the demo. I just found a friendly dealer that I have been going to for many years now. Stereo Design in San Diego is great.
I hate my iPad..... Where do some of these so-called corrections come from? "wafinally looted"? Wtf?!? She "was completely floored."

Ugh, anyway.... The switch from Vandys to another speaker was yet another example of Audiophile 'attitude' but this time from 'Dick' Vandersteen himself. I've mentioned it from time to time on different forums but I'll put the story in this thread as well. Suffice it to say that he was so offensive that he convinced me to never buy anything from him again and to sell my entire Vandy home theater. To this day I think that he is a second rate person despite having a first rate audio mind. Quite a shame.

Anyway, this was ten years ago that this happened. The Vandys are long gone and I've long since become a Magnepan 'ho, so I didn't wander too far from ML conceptually. But it is amazing how much impact one idiot can have. I'd have likely bought seven new MLs if not for this loser. After coming to watch movies my friends might have done the same. And now, ten years later, as my wife and I look to upgrade, instead of looking at Maggie 3s, we would be looking to upgrade MLs. So one fool cost ML $30k in guaranteed sales so far. That won't put them under but a long shot, but you do that enough times and any company goes from a great speaker manufacturer to an interesting piece of audio history.

So, I wanna hear YOUR stories folks..... And I'll type up my story with 'Dick' Vandersteen, I promise.
i don't think there is an audiophile attitude, rather there are ways of selling expensive depreciable assets, such as cars, boats, tvs, furniture, etc.

some people are supercilious, opinionated, and mean. it's a matter of personality and is not unique to audio.

i would not single out audio as a hobby that is conducive to rudeness .

what you call an "attitude" has no correlation to a representative of a sub group of the population.

what is to be gained by highlighting the boorish behavior of human beings?
rather than being critical, as we all have faults, it's more useful to cite the positive experiences associated with our hobby.
All of the responses reinforce my reasons for buying at Amazon, J&R, Audio Advisor, Music Direct, Crutchfield, Blue Jeans et al...... All are Snob-Free zones. But, Amazon recently decided to collect taxes for all the 'anti-tax' politicians here in Texas, so I might drop them.
i have been to highly respected[?] sales training over the years and the technique of the "take away" was taught at several of them. if you have never heard of it the salesman tells the customer he would show something in the other room BUT it probably is more than you can afford, understand. the desired effect is to make the customer get all blustered up and say well I CAN. what a poor way of selling things. i have never sold anything using this psychological manipulation. there are some very poor audio salesmen out there...
The takeaway is taught in lots of sales jobs but won't work on the informed. What do you mean I can't afford it? I'll show you. Yeah, when I buy from someone else. Always go into a shop and make sure you out dress everyone there. Now you are the snob in control, and let them know you will not be lead to the place they want you to be. I've been asked to leave by lots of new car dealerships, but everyone of them eventually called me back because they had a new and better deal. Sorry, but I'd rather pay more to someone else, just to keep the money out of your hands. Maybe next year, if I'm not too busy. It works!
08-27-12: Rok2id
All of the responses reinforce my reasons for buying at Amazon, J&R, Audio Advisor, Music Direct, Crutchfield, Blue Jeans et al...... All are Snob-Free zones. But, Amazon recently decided to collect taxes for all the 'anti-tax' politicians here in Texas, so I might drop them.

Same for me, three times this past month I got to Amazon check out page and killed the purchase. The tax they charge is due to Amazon having an office in Dallas County. As you probably know, if a company has an office in Texas they must collect sales tax.

Still, they ignored the rule for several years and only recently after threatening to pull all operations out of Texas (and dismiss all their employees) came to some agreement where they owed nothing for past sins but must collect from now on.

Amazon is frequently good pricing but this past six months or so I've found better offers elsewhere, even before tax.
Since I’m here I may as well add to the story line. My story is the reverse of what most have posted, a story from the salesman point of view.

Long ago I was assistant manager of a (very) high end audio store. We had McIntosh, Marantz, Thorens, Ortofon, SME, JBL, Tandberg and good mid line gear like Kenwood, Dual and the wonderful bookshelf speakers from AR and KLH.

The manager was quite a bit older than I, he loved to sit in his high chair behind the counter and scope out the customers. He hated answering the phone and would often let people wander about without even asking if he could help.

I was the opposite, I thought as long as I was there I might as well find someone who liked music and we could listen together. I really was not concerned if they bought or not, it was more fun to pass the day and (in some cases) hear what they brought to audition. I discovered new music nearly every week that way.

One hot summer day it was very slow (yes, audio was slow in the summer then too). A young man came into the store with torn blue jeans, a plaid shirt and cowboy boots. He seemed nice and I looked over at Ed (the manager) as if to ask if he wanted this turn.

The gesture was an emphatic NO so I leaped to my feet and addressed the guy. He said he was going off to school and wanted a system. I showed him the entry level Kenwood receiver and least expensive KLH speaker and his choice of small Dual or AR turntable with "free" cartridge.

He listened for awhile and then ask if this was the best we had. I said no and showed him the upper end of the Kenwood line and some very good AR speakers.

Again, he listened and all the while Ed was grinning through the sound room window as if to say "fool, you're wasting your time."

When the LP ended the young man walked over to the top line Macintosh and ask if he could hear it with a really good speaker.

I accommodated him and even did a brief demo with our pro line Ampex AG440 studio machine and top line Thorens.

I ask what he thought and he said, "I like it, I'll take it." I ask which equipment he was referring to and he said, "The good ones you showed me last."

The young man went into the office where the owner of the store was and we wrote up his invoice. The amount was staggering, as much as an good car cost back then. I ask the owner quietly if this young man could quality for credit to buy and I was informed his family owned a company that manufactured aircraft and he would be paying mostly cash plus a small check.

For weeks afterward Ed actually got off his ass and waited on a few people. Then it was back to me again. I always enjoyed the people that came into our store and thought it crazy that I could make money listening to music with nice people.
I'll pipe in about David Weinhart. Yes, he can say inappropriate stuff- something about stuff that plumbers and teachers listen to (my wife is a teacher). But the guy spent a solid hour with us knowing that we were visiting from Oregon and the chance of us spending money that day was remote. He was informative and entertaining. Yea, he's a Bel-Air guy- but he's also a gear junkie and a music lover.
WHAT IF no one ever took the time and trouble to demonstrate the "current state of the art" components to a serious and inquisitive customer? sure, there might not be a sale that day or even that year, but someday he/she gets settled in an apartment and wants some great sounding music. they've been working for awhile and saving up, and their dream is finally going to become reality. If the retail business can't recognize and nurture this type of customer then this is a real tragedy. SO if you're ("aloof salesperson") not too busy, recognize the enthusiasm coming from the future potential fanatic (me for example) and bring him into "the room",
sit him down in "the chair", and play toccata and fugue in D minor....
Albertporter that is a great story and wish I had run into more salespersons like you over the years.
In my case, when I was a young twenty-something struggling graphic designer back in the early 80's, no, I could not afford the best, but IF you let me do some listening... Well then SOMEDAY when I HAD money, I might come back and buy bigtime.. which of course is what I did. Now I'm in my early 50's and live in an area fairly devoid of any audio at all, but am still very loyal to my dealer back in New Jersey, and have spent ? $$$$ I have no idea how much over the past 20 years. If Saleperson's would INVEST in younger persons, someday the entire industry will reap.
I have a fun, opposite experience that I want to share. I was doing automotvie testing in the desert back in the early 90s. I drove back into LasVegas, Nv to fly home. Since I was on the RedEye I had time to drive around and I found a stereo shop. I was wearing a golf shirt with both the Bosch and Ford logos sewn into it. These were special shirts that get passed around to engineers working on common programs.
So I walked in and looked around. It was a very respectable shop with some nice gear and was my first time to see Apogee speakers in person. The salesman/shop owner was a personable guy. He makes a remark to me that he liked my shirt because he sold Blaupunkt Automotive stereos too. I spied a Half Speed Master recording of the Alan Parsons Project Tales of Mystery and Imagination on his record rack. I said I would trade him my shirt for that record. He took me up on my offer. I went out to my car, changed shirts and gave him the smelly shirt off my back for that record.
He was a great guy and that is one of my best audio memories. I think of him whenever I play that record.
I will not stand for audio sales people being linked to car salesmen. Car sales people are a step, really just inches, above. When I was going to college I worked summers as the personal assistant to the president of major mega car dealer. My office was a desk next to his. Boy, did I learn the car business. Till this day I have never found sales practices out side the auto field, shady and dishonest was the name of the game. That was reinforced when I recently went shopping with a friend. Seems, after arriving at a 'deal' price, they tried to add back in the sales order $1500 of dealer charges, including the $900 destination charge which is always included in the MRSP sticker price. We could not run fast enough out the door. The sales person was screaming 'wait'. Wait till the audio people find out. I am sure they will now charge for the box and its packing materials.
I walked into a high end golf shop in search of a new driver. The salesman walked up to me and asked my handicap and the number of time I played in which I replied that I was a high handicap that played twice a month. He did a nice job qualifying me. I mentioned that I wanted the exact driver the Tiger Woods used which retailed at $800.

The salesman looked me straight in the eyes and said “ if you think that this driver will lower your score, then I won’t sell you this club…..but if you want to knock 20 minutes off your game, this is the club for you!!!”

I replied, “20 minutes off my gamef” what do you mean?? Sir, with this club and your level of play, I can guarantee that when you hit the ball it will go so far into the woods that you will not even attempt to look for the ball, thus saving you a ton of time. Let me show you a more forgiving club.

Moral of the story, have a sense of humor and qualify your customer’s needs. Not an audio story, but one of my favorite retail stories.
this discussion has me thinking of how we sold audio back in the 70s/80s. the most effective strategy i used was to never show people entry level gear first. i gave them a brief introduction to the offerings our store had and then introduced them to what a really good system could sound like. i just engaged them conversationally and avoided the much dreaded "qualifying the customer". i tried to be low key and enthusiastic about the music too. the same customer had possibly shopped another store where a salesman had started with lower quality gear and went for the "close". i sold a lot of expensive systems! they key was introducing hifi in a nonpresumptive manner, establishing myself as very credible and using product positioning to sell better gear by "selling down" instead of "selling up". flagship products enhanced the value of the gear i finally recommended. the psychology at the time was that lots of people related to the good, better, best concept and said well i don't need the best but i do want the better. i think this still is true with many people.
Here is the problem with purchasing on line due to a bad experience with a sales person. On line purchases eliminate brick and mortar stores. Shoes, computers, clothing, electronics, etc. The stores go away and so do the jobs. So when we are all complaining about this country (and others) and the loss of jobs, remember that pretty much every time we (I, you, us) purchase on line it may cause brick and mortar stores in your neighborhood to simply disappear and jobs lost. It is really that simply. So, as I said previously, if a sales person (auto, especially auto, electronics, clothing, etc.) is rude, inconsiderate, etc. to me or mine, we simply do the following. We write a letter of complaint to the parent company and mention the name of the rude person and threaten to shop elsewhere. This serves many purposes. I know for a fact that most companies have performance evaluations for employees and they are based partially on written or verbal correspondence received about that person. Check it out, it is really true. So, if you simply walk away and don't write a letter, you have done nothing and served no good because no one knows why you left and they can't and won't do anything about it because you left no record. The employee performance evaluation is really huge in most companies. Also, they will most of the time compensate you for your experience. If you are humiliated or hurt or angry. Take action and compain in writing. It really works. But, taking your business to on line retailers, means that I or you won't have stores to go to where you can try thing on or hear equipment, or see the television because you , I, them, have put the neighborhood business out of business. Yes, I do shop some times on line. so I'm not perfect. But large ticket items and clothing,I go to my neighborhood stores, or drive to San Diego and listen and buy from them. going to a store to try something on to see if it fits or whether it sounds good and then ordering on line means in the very near future, you won't have that luxury because the store simply won't be there. Sorry for the soap box, but to me this is really important. One exception however, as mentioned earlier, if the manufacturer (not the salesperson) such as Vandersteen insulted me or mine, then I wouldn't give them the time of day anymore, and I would still write and complain.

08-28-12: Xiekitchen
Albertporter that is a great story and wish I had run into more salespersons like you over the years.
In my case, when I was a young twenty-something struggling graphic designer back in the early 80's, no, I could not afford the best, but IF you let me do some listening... Well then SOMEDAY when I HAD money, I might come back and buy bigtime

I always treated young people (and everyone else) with respect because that's my personality. One current member of my audio group was a customer of mine back then, a guy that never really bought anything but loved to come in and listen.

We have been friends for more than 40 years and we still laugh about those days.
08-28-12: Hotmailjbc
This discussion has me thinking of how we sold audio back in the 70s/80s. The most effective strategy i used was to never show people entry level gear first.

That period was about the end of my involvement in working at an audio store, I was gaining success with my photography and moving away from audio, at least as a career.

The store I worked for then had everything from grand pianos and marching band equipment to PA systems for churches and high end audio.

When people came into our department you never knew if they were a student killing time, waiting to get their guitar tuned up or maybe a member of a famous rock band in town looking around to see what we had.

My approach in those days was first see if they were responding to an ad, because we frequently ran double page in the newspaper and that brought in lots of lookers.

What I did that was different was sell on quality. If someone was looking at a brand that I knew was not the best sound I made an attempt to demo better sound that was either the same price or very close.

Often this involved two competitors products alternately hooked up to the same speakers and turntable with a few minutes music on a familiar LP.

The look of shock on the customers face was priceless. Many who had no expectation of hearing any difference were shocked at how different products sounded. I made a lot of friends this way, I actually helped people get better sound and not by screwing them or digging for more money.

Some would spend the bucks for B&W, Audio Research or other premium brands we carried but many were just young people who wanted something great to listen to music.
I agree with Minorl, several times over the years I bought small items from AV South in Tampa and they acted like snobs. At first I thought it was me. Last time I was there I waited 1.5 hours for a price on a used Linn Classik. The saleaman said, " you're going to tell me what you will pay for this". When I made a good offer ( no box, manual, power cord, IC, wire, adapters, or antennas were included) the salesman (that I had bought from in the past) rudely blurted out NO!!!!! So that everyone could hear him. Instead of me back fisting him a good one or reminding him that I could pay cash for anything in the store (he works there and can't say that) I called Linn and spoke with Collin and e-mailed them about how rude a company representing them was. I also let them know how well I was treated by Accent Hi Fi in NY, a shop In Philly, Sarasota, and a few other places that I purchased Linn products and was told that they take these kind of complaints seriously. I never knew how seriously until I called Accent Hi Fi and bought a Linn Adikt cart from them. I explained why, and Alma told me that they received a copy of the e-mail I sent Linn, so I guess the nice people were commended by Linn and received a copy too. Av South will never get another penny from me again.
here is the dilemma with buying on-line or at a store. usually, you can get the same item for less on-line. if you want to pay more to keep jobs in the us, go ahead.

but if you want to save money , go online.

as far as reporting rude behavior, i don't think it's worth the time.

i don;t take it personally, and will not report people for not being nice. by not patronizing a company , someone will figure out that there is a problem, and solve it.
don't many on-line companies have a staff, building, inventories, and investment in knowledge and a new business plan? i have saved big bucks buying on-line or direct. it is not my job to pay more because some capitalist decided to invest in a brick and mortar biz models. the last time i walked into a top audio store they wouldn't give me the time of day [much less a demo] when the salesguy determined i wasn't in the market for a high end home theatre custom install. no disrespect meant but i don't get any extra value paying full price at retail store.
I also had an experience with David Weinhard. This was about 10 years ago when he owned Ambrosia. I was looking for a tube amp and he told me that tubes were garbage and that I should come aboard the 21 century. I recently looked at his website and he is now carrying tube gear. This guys opinion changes with the wind.
Nothing but good experiences with salespeople in the old "brick and mortars". If they had the time and the gear was set up, they were eager to show quarter million dollar systems to a young working Joe just browsing. Been a long time since I've been in that kind of a store. Not many around anymore to inspire young ears.
Ears Nova a real turkey store!!
I didn't mean to start a wind storm regarding on line purchases. Most on-line companies don't have the staffing of brick and mortar stores. Nor do they have the overhead. You know, salespeople, demonstration people, people that talk with you, set up equipment so you can hear it. stores, where you can walk in and see and hear it. So, yes, there really are differences between brick and mortar stores and on-line retailers. Very low overhead and no taxes, so prices are naturally lower. this is not a level playing field for brick and motar store owners. On-line retailers take advantage of the brick and mortar stores and personnel doing their job first so you get to try it on, or hear it and then seek the lower price on line. Why do you think the price is lower in the first place? 1) no sales tax for the state (avoiding that overhead), 2) no sales people, 3) no physical stores, 4), no advertisement costs, 5) no benefits that you have to pay your staff, such as medical, dental, etc. need I say more. It is simple math and is really not fair to those hard working people. Also, many on line stores don't even have staff in your state let alone in your country. so when you find yourself saying "I need to go try on this piece of clothing, shoes, etc. or I want to go hear these bogama maximus speakers" and you find that there are no stores near you where you can do this. Don't complain, because you know why. It is also the fault of the manufacturers that allow their stuff to be sold on line also. So there is much blame to pass around. But the big bucks saved are avoidance of state taxes (this hurts your state and eliminates much needed resources) and the overhead that brick and mortar stores must pay that on line retailers don't. I guess maybe it is just me. But I will save a little longer and spend at my neighborhood stores to keep my favorite stores in business. Also, I am willing to pay a little more for better service and won't pay for bad service. I have seen far too many stores and their employees out of business lately. Remember the memorable scene in Pretty Woman? where she goes back to the store on Rodeo Drive dressed to kill and shows the snotty salesperson what she purchased at a different store? that was classic!!! I guess you lost that commission didn't you?? Now a days, one really can't tell who is who and whether you have money or not just by looking at how you are dressed, skin color, etc. So, they are learning to treat everyone well. Well, not everyone as is the case here. But, like buying a car from a pushy salesperson, I know how to get up slowly and simply walk away. But rude people? oh yeah, I will write a letter.
the basic problem with dealers is the inability to assess the viability of listening to a component,as part of stereo system, and then extrapolating the result onto your stereo system.

it would seem that the most successful model is to allow consumers to listen to a component in their stereo system.

perhaps dealers would be viable if they were willing to function like a library. perhaps, charge a small fee for service.

it is unnecessary to set up stereo systems, except for turntable, arm and cartridge.

let them stock an inventory of component types from different manufacturers.
I have had the exact opposite at The Analog Room in SF Bayarea and Xtend Technologies in Cleveland.
Brian at The Analog room not only entertained my request to hear the Avalons, despite knowing my speaker budget was upto $2K, but also suggested "how to audition". He suggested that I listen to the Sonus Faber Stradivari speaker to make sure how my music should actually sound, then go down to the $2K range speakers and compare them to see, which speaker in this range "best approaches" the sound that I heard from the $$$$$ Stradivari. This made sense to me and I ended up with the Quads.
Clint in Xtend Technologies was very accommodating when I wanted to purchase a power amp. He showed me the different systems that were setup and allowed me to get my (then) existing amp with my choice of power cable. He then left me alone (for an extended period) with a system I chose so that I was comfortable doing the comparison. I wanted to hear a Marantz SA11-S2 that I told him, I would not buy, but just wanted to listen to. He demoed it to me in his reference room, with some $20K Ushers and Parasound JC-1 monos.
Of course, this alone made a pleasurable experience of buying from brick-and-mortar shop. I hope I have not jinxed myself for the next audio purchase.
Most serious dealers have demonstration equipment which is basically brand new equipment set up in their stores for people to listen. I know the market is slow right now for many reasons. price that some people feels is wayy too high is one reason. So, allowing customers that are serious to take a piece home for a week or so to demo in their home is a great idea. Again, this is for serious customers. To prevent looky loos, charge a nominal fee for such service if necessary. For your regular customer that you know are good, serious customers, this isn't an issue. For high priced equipment, even for used equipment, my favorite store allows me and others to take demonstration equipment or used equipment home for in-home audition. this is a direct quote from my salesperson to a friend of mine in the store. "He said that he heard that (my first name) "I'm not spending anymore money" Minorl was in the store over the weekend." this is an inside joke because I tell him every time I visit that I have no intention of spending money and many times I walk away with something. Anyway, without such brick and motar stores to provide this much needed service, people would purchage on-line, have the equipment delivered to only find out that it really doesn't work well in their system, and they made a serious mistake. In the past many "high end" stores carried upper mid fi, lower high end and high end equipment to give people choices. Many times manufactures would insist that if you wanted to carry my stupidly expensive high end stuff, you also had to carry my crap equipment. Now this has changed, where the store can dictate many times what level of a certain manufacturer's equipment they want to carry and they also transistioned over to really popular home theater equipment to cover that market and stay in business. There are many high end stores in the Los Angeles area, however, over the years I have had tried them and found that traveling to San Diego is fun for me and the store I frequent there is much more accomodating and friendly.

08-28-12: Taters
I also had an experience with David Weinhard. This was about 10 years ago when he owned Ambrosia. I was looking for a tube amp and he told me that tubes were garbage and that I should come aboard the 21 century. I recently looked at his website and he is now carrying tube gear. This guys opinion changes with the wind.

I wouldn't exactly call changing one's opinion 10 years later "changes with the wind". I've known other dealers who previously eschewed tube gear change their minds as the newer tube gear is substantially more reliable. Although MAC was pretty reliable in the old days. Plus, with tube gear, a dealer has to deal with warranty issues with guys sticking god-knows-what tube substitutions in the gear and then bringing it back to the dealer when it fails.
The stuff costs too much, and for no apparent reason. The MSRPs are just arbitrary. I was reading about an amp today that sells for or sold for 31,000 dollars. The specs were not as good as my 299.00 amp. Now I know what most of you will say about specs, but hell, we are speaking of 3oo dollars verus 31,000 dollars. Really? That is the basic problem with 'high-end' audio. You can't HEAR or SEE anything that justifies the prices being asked. It's a tough sell for the high end dealers and if you delete all the nonsense in this hobby, it's an impossible sell.
It's not the specs that matter as you are relating them. It is the R&D work, parts, construction, overhead, amount of units you expect to sell, market, etc. that establish the price. Specially made parts that costs way more than off the shelf parts. these all contribute to the price. I was told recently that Boulder markets their equipment, not really for the American consumer, but for overseas consumers that want huge, monsterously large American equipment. Therefore, they are constructed and sold that way for the overseas market. At least that is what I was told. Now, I do like Boulder equipment, but, yes, in my opinion, they are seriously overpriced. However, I can tell you that I can see and hear audible differences between low end and high end equipment. I'm not justifying the prices, but Take Boulder's $40,000 amp vs a $299 Yamaha low fi amp in a revealing system and there will be a jaw dropping difference in sound. The real question is what level of sound reproduction do you want? What makes a person want to get up from the listening chair and leave the room? Listener's fatigue? What causes it? On a good recording can you close your eyes and tell where the artists are on the stage? how large the stage is? dimensionality? space, depth? Or can you tell you are listening to speakers? is something or somethings missing? This to me is the difference between background music and actually listening to music. I enjoy music and music reproduction enough that I want a system that is as realistic as I can get.(that I can afford). this is why many of us upgrade a piece at a time until we are "there".

I think it was 90' or 91' when I went to hear the Mirage M1. I made it clear to the salesman that the M1 was not in my budget but want to upgrade my Sony cdp. The M1 room had Mark Levinson and Proceed gear. He told me not to touch the Proceed cdp that it's a $3k player, I replied that I was considering a Meridian. He mumbled "sure you are" so I knew this guy was an a**h***! He then said he had to make a phone call(lol). After 3 or 4 tracks played I was left waiting for at least 10 minutes. I decided to take matters in my own hands! I put on Abraxas raised the volume and couldn't believe the 3D/holographic sound the M1 created. By the time Black Magic Woman was playing 5 or 6 people were in the M1 demo room. He abruply stormed in the room and shut everything down and said "I have customers to take care of". The funny thing was everyone was in the M1 room, try selling those godawful $1000 speakers after they heard the M1's!!!
And to think, someone actually started a thread entitled 'why don't more people love audio'
In the early 80's I lived in Grand Rapids Michigan and wondered into Steketee's Audio (McIntosh dealer, among other things - long gone). I had always loved music, but knew nothing about the high end. I was poor and in my early 20s.

I'm an inquisitive guy and the salesmen there always took the time to answer my questions patiently. I would wonder in once or twice a week and they took to greeting me with "Hey John, you have to hear this..." Each time, showing me everything from new albums to new equipment at all different prices. The taught me a lot about audio and introduced me to a ton of new music.

Very quickly I was planning my purchases and started with a used cassette deck, followed by an integrated amp, new speakers, a turntable (cartridge, etc.) and a new, far more expensive cassette deck. Even when I moved away I went back to purchase a few more things. At the time I started buying from them, I was making less than $20k per year and I was spending $1-2k of it with them. Not a fortune by everyone's standards, but it was for me at the time - I would buy as much as my wife would allow.

Since that time I've probably spent over $150k more on equipment and countless thousands on records and CDs. I have two pretty high-end systems in my home and I've advised dozens of friends on their purchases.

The guys at Steketee's Audio knew what all good audio salespeople knew in those days. High End customers have to be grown, they don't just walk in off the street. Trust is built over time and life-long customers/audio enthusiasts aren't created overnight. Unfortunately, no one seems to take the long view any more.