Describe the ideal high end audio dealership

Please describe, in detail ,your personal opinion as to what the ideal high end audio dealership would be. Sales/demo policies, store atmosphere/layout, trade ins/ trade ups, ect. What products interest you the most?

Are you more drawn to brand new designs? The Presence of large statement pieces on display? The reassuring presence of well established and familiar lines? What about newer lines that appear promising?

What characteristics would your ideal hi end audio dealership possess? What bothers you most?

Do you prefer the traditional brick and mortar storefront or a more personal approach offered by the home based dealership/appointment structured store?

Describe what you feel, in your personal opinion, are the greatest positive attributes of your favorite dealerships.

This thread is intended for the hobbyist consumers, not dealers or manufacturers.
I can only speak for online dealers, since there is no local entity where I live. Idealy, for myself, I would like to know that the amount of money spent is NOT directly proportional to the time the dealer chooses to allocate to me. Big no no in my book. Also, because it is known that the dealer makes a pretty hefty commission from the sale, if there were any future problems with the device (especially if new) that the dealer would take every step to correct the problem. Simple ideologies...but very obvious when not followed. Those are the two big issues for me.
1. Normal business hours and non of this "by appointment only crap". (I once had a store tell me to make an appointment just to buy some used gear)
2. Floor samples for the whole product line. If you sell "Brand X", then have all the products,not just the entry level trinket that is a total joke and is just like "Brand Y's" and "Brand Z's" entry level trinket. I like to see the flag ship models on display and hear them too.
3. Hire people that really know and care about audio. Don't just hire people that are inbetween jobs and waiting for the results of their civil service exam.
4. A great selection of real world music. not just some stereophile test disks. Spare me on the Audiophile recordings with music theorists where noone can really sing or play and they sound like a lame cat being run over.
5. Allow in-home demos (try before you buy). Just leave your CC number and take home something for a few days.
6. Deal in quality used gear too and allow trade-ins for Blue Book prices.
7. I don't care about too many frills like free coffee or donuts - just have the product.
8. Don't use commercial/pro products that the typical consumer is not allowed to buy.
6550C has stated a lot of good points.

Other items that for me would make for a great audio store would be:

i) A nice selection of electronics with both solid state and tube equipment being offered. I want to know what is the best of both worlds, so I can make an informed decision, as to which type of equipment suits my tastes best.

ii) Several turntables, both entry level and high end, from several manufacturers, as well as tone arms and cartridges. These should be setup and ready to play.

iii) A nice selection of software, (particularly LPs), so that I can come to the store to both look at the equipment, as well shop for my music. (To me, this is a must for a "great" stereo store. I love to go record shopping, so I will always stop by to do that, and if I can then check out the latest and greatest gear that is on display, so much the better.) There are only a couple of stores that I know of that do this, with The Analog Room, in San Jose, being the premier example. (Now if only they would cut down on the cigar smoking, it would be a near perfect store.)

iv) At least two, or preferably three, large listening rooms, that are not packed to the gills with equipment.

v) No home theater equipment, (including TV's, DVD players, etc.) I'm there for music, not videos.

My two cents worth anyway.
It isn’t going to happen… the perfect dealership, that is. Even close to perfect won’t be a reality.

Whatever the business model, or equipment array, all I would ask of any dealership is to be professional and not erudite or arrogant. To not be condescending or pushy. In short to have a level relationship with prospective customers rather than the Holier than thou which seems the typical model.

Dealers should be flexible and competitive with pricing. A trade in or up program in a set time frame would also be advantageous. Providing means for financing couldn’t hurt either, if the resource (s) aren’t laughable with their terms.

If by appointment sessions are the norm there, allow the customer to preview their own software, not something totally unfamiliar to them… and within reason, at their own pace.

Some time frame for demos in home should also be addressed, and if a non sale results than some modest fee should be incurred. Such fee (s) determined on an as per basis to the nature of the demo & components being previewed and that total time frame. A weekend? A Week? A pair of full range speakers, or a pair of ICs?

All pieces should be run in prior to any in home demo too, or for in house uses as well. It serves no purpose to hear, “this is a great item, but just came out of the box so it isn’t up to snuff just yet…. Whadaya think?”.

To ignore wholly the world wide web is ridiculous these days…. And likely what prevents BM stores from continuing or sprouting up… but it is indeed a fact and has been for some years. To claim said dealership is worth the prospect of paying an additional 30-50% more for same same items, is sheer fantasy. 20-25% Perhaps. 30% maybe. 40-50% more? Well… one can always ask I suppose.

I really don’t see any audio BM store these days being solely high end audio. There has to be more diversification. Lower levels of merchandise. Accessories. Installations. Offers of setup and pro tweaking of higher end items in homes. Software sales. Inventories themselves seem likely killers to store fronts now.

Regardless the prospect, in home or in store, if only people are treated as people, and not morons or cattle, I’d sure attempt to do business there. But that snobby, arrogant, pushy ‘our stuff is the best out there and everything else sucks’ or ‘you haven’t a clue, let me tell you …. Attitudes must go. Only simple ‘sheep’ can be so influenced or intimidated… and then they’ll become remorseful later on most likely and seek to return the item..

Good luck finding one of those… and if you have… do continue to support it.
1. I prefer a brick and motar audio hi-end dealer to big audio chains, even though they may have limited inventory on display. 2. Attitude : (A )I would never tolerate the snobby attitude of the owner/salesman who would implicitly or explicitly put down other brandnames carried by their competition. (B ) I would prefer fact finding question type to know my need(s) than sale pitch. (C) I would not tolerate to be closed on the deal with high pressure tactics. (D) I would not need to be voluntarily disclosed the price of the products unless being asked. When I am ready to make a deal then it is a proper time for me to ask for the pricing disclose 3. Most audiophile guy knows what they are looking for in term of sound preference and quality of the products so save me the mumbo/jumbo specification disclose, I am into the sound quality not the data literature print-out. 4. I prefer to be alone in the demo room with the door closed since I always bring my own CDs and if the products do not sound any better than my current system, then why spinning my own wheels and wasting my time and the owner/salesman time. I do not like to be interrupt while I critically have my audition. 5. Service after the sale is crucial. Do I have to call the manufactures for servicing or would the owner/salesman will happily take care of my issues? Just to name a few of the factors that would make or break a deal and again, it is my own experience and my requirement before I spend my hard earning disposable income.
A sincere effort to understand your system and what you seek to improve.Best case scenario-a home visit to hear your system and make comments and suggestions within your monetary parameters.Full focus and attention to you as a client and your needs.How many times have you been in front of someone at any retail biz and were asked to wait while they took an "important" phone call.That is a big red flag to me.Speak in specifics not superlatives and let me think you know what you are talking about.Don't schmooze me with "i just want you to be happy" when you hear that you know you are in trouble! After sales issues-please treat me with the same respect i got at the time of purchase and return my calls.I am still waiting for one dealer to call me back about a problem for over a year.He lost my biz and my confidence in him as a retailer.Another retailer could just not get it together to give me an itemized receipt for insurance purposes,after asking 4 times i gave up.He made me,the customer feel like i was bothering him.He lost my biz and any respect.These dealers have driven me to the used and manufacturers direct market.Last thing-never whine about how little money you are making on any particular piece of equipment,this always seems to happen and i am not sure what can be gained by this?You know,i think i feel a little better now.
I like the brick and mortar store. I have been buying these black boxes for 50 years or so, and have often wondered why the store completes their sale and never gets back with suggestions of a new upgrade, component, or accessory that would improve the customer's system. I have always found that I get generic clearance bulletins, etc after the sale, but no continued personal interest in my evolving system. It would be so easy to keep the buyers system on file and when an appropriate upgrade is available for the store to let the customer know. It would improve sales and customer relationships
Wow it looks like have as close to an ideal dealer near me. He is in home by appointment only which is kind of nice. Whether I'm looking to spend $100 or $6000 he will spend all the time with me and not have to worry about someone walking in to 'Kick Tires' or spend $100,000. I get his full attention. He offers generous in home demos. He even loaned me some equipment when mine had to be sent in for repair (and the unit needing repair wasn't purchased from him). He knows I will not pay retail but still gives me a fair discount. Not always the discount I want to see but in all fairness he has to make something for his time and efforts. For that reason I do buy from him and have never bought elsewhere (unless it's something he does not carry). Every time I ordered something from him he delivers and installs it. Also he will never 'bad mouth' anything I have. Except for not being able to 'walk' in anytime what more could anyone want.

I have the best dealer and the best part he is local to me. Anyone in the Chicago area who wants to know who he is e-mail me and I will be more than happy to tell you. I want him to stay in business.
I have not shopped for new equipment for some time now, but back when (early 90s)I had 2 favorite stores.
Both were small, maybe 2 stores in the NJ NY area.
I could just show up with my cd's and listen to what ever I asked. Even the big stuff, to compare what I should be listening for.
I spent many hours listening to speaker amp combo's with no salesman or pressure to leave, and I ended up buying from both stores several times.
Unfortunatly both of these stores are no longer around.
I feel the big chains aren't quite what they pretend to be.
The staff seems to be all young kids that really have no idea just how good music can sound, or how good a television picture can be.
This seems to be the future of store sales as knowlegable
staff can get expensive, and it's all about the bottom line these days.
As far as online, sales will continually grow and make it much more difficult to compete in this market.
I will still seek out brick and mortar specialty store when it comes time for me to upgrade.
The most important aspect of any high-end dealership is that the salesman knows more than you. I just hate it when the salesman has not familiarized himself with the features & sonics of whats being sold.

Second, I like to be able to borrow on loan a piece of gear for home trial. Most always this entails a drivers license with deposit or credit card but eliminates alot of footwork & headaches. This is important, I don't necessarily need to hear equipment in their showroom, I want to take it home and see what it sounds like in my room with my speakers and associated gear.

Finally it is great to see a variety of high-end gear to choose from rather than specializing in one particular brand.
loaner's, loaner's and more loaner's. How the unit sounds in your rig/room is what it is all about. And yes, these dealer's are very hard to find, especially if you are not in a metro area. Next best thing is a 100% refund within 30 days if you return the item, no restocking fees and no store credit. Refund must be in the form of your original payment form. The future appears to be the 'in home' dealer as the brick and mortar business model doesn't really work anymore.

6550c's comments describe fantasy land, especially in today's climate. Many years ago I did 'floor plan' financing for about twenty audio dealers so I got to know the financial' s of those type business's. Forget about hiring salespeople, only the owner/manager model can make it today. Hey, there is always Best Buy.
since the ultimate demo is one's own stereo system, the ideal arrangement would be a lending library, where you you try almost anything the store carried. no salesman, no advice, just good prices and let me borrrow what i want would be sufficient.

imagine walking into a store with a lot of components on display. i believe in trial and error. therefore, i would want to audition as many components as possible.
I agree with alot of what has been said. I just wonder if the "ideal" dealership could stay in business.
We are very lucky to have multiple quality brick and mortar dealers in Seattle. A couple of standouts are Tim Ratcliffe at Experience Audio and Tom King at Definitive Audio. In addition, I've also had great service from Thom Mackris at Galibier Design. All three share a passion for 2 channel sound and provide dedicated, excellent customer service.
Jazdoc, very good, it is Seattle where I go for audio gear. Definitive Audio is a great place. Don't leave out Bob at Hawthorne Stereo. On several occasions Bob has allowed me to take home a couple pieces of gear at a time without as much as a penny down. However in all fairness I have been shopping there for years & Bob is very honest & knowledgable.
Many thanks to those sharing feelings regarding specific hi end audio dealerships/dealers, but the real purpose of this thread is to share your personal hobbyist perspective of what specifically constitutes a top notch high end audio dealer and an explanation thereof. This thread was not intended to evolve into a dealership advertising forum nor does it necessitate stating names of proprietors. Contributions have been objective, insightful and informative thus far. Let us please try and keep it that way.
Chris74, thankyou sir for reminding us to stick to the original question. Anymore dealer advertising will be dealt with severely so I'm with you.
My apologies for taking your thread in a more specific direction than you intended. As long as we are fantasizing, my perfect dealership would:

1. Carry a complete inventory of multiple product lines with multiple dedicated acoustically treated demo rooms

2. Spend time getting to know me and musical tastes and offer informed suggestions based on my current budget. They would help me build a system that could be easily and cheaply upgraded.

3. Schedule dedicated individual appointment time for customers to bring their own music and sample products in their store prior to an in home demonstration.

4. Allow unlimited in home demos, bring over the equipment, set it up and make sure it is perfoming to their satisfaction. Subsequently, the dealer would come back and pick up the equipment.

5. Provide pricing significantly below retail with generous trade-in allowances even on brands that they did not carry.

6. Continue providing #1-5 after customers purchase their equipment on Audiogon :-)
Jazdoc and Phd, Absolutely no apologies necessary, not in the least. In fact, all respective opinions are much appreciated and welcome. Just trying to stay on topic.
I agree with Pubul57. The ideals expressed in some of these posts would be wonderful for us music lovers and audiophiles; I'd love to know of dealers that are so flexible and customer-centered. I think it would be next to impossible for most dealers to make a profit and survive though.
Attitude is something that can be changed at little cost, and it does seem that some dealers seem to have a problem in this area. But carrying everything and in-home trials of everything would be beyond the financial means of most real world dealers - not that I don't want it. But a good welcoming attitude (yes even for tire kickers), real knowledge of the products carried, and a wide enough selection to compare tubes and SS, digital and analog, and different types of speaker designs (electrostatic, horns, etc.) would be nice. This would be particularly useful for those that aren't yet audiophiles, but know they want to move into better sound, or have enough money to get it right the first time with some good advice and direction. I just don't know how BM can survive with the internet, at least among those already into the hobby. Just too easy to buy and try from places like Audiogon.
When I was in graduate school, there was a place in New Brunswick, New Jersey called HiFi Haven. This place was a meeting place...a club if you will for audio enthusiasts. A guy named Stan and his wife owned it, but the real deal was the salesman...a young guy at the time - 30 or 40 years ago named Jerry. The guy was one of the nicest guys I have yet to a matter of fact, all of the people who came into the store were friends. I remember Jerry showing me the Grace 707, comparing it to the 714, and which cartridge would be better for each of the arms. I remember him demoing the Spatial Coherence preamp to the DB Systems preamp...the ARSLT, the original Dahlquist speakers, etc. It was the most fun I have had being an audiophile. If anyone knows where Jerry is/what he is doing, I'd like to touch base.
The title to this thread is an oxymoron; right???
Dealers can't carry everything or complete lines of such. They'd owe the bank in the millions and the rent on 6 acres of showroom would be considerable. Then he would have to have a small army as the sales force; for starters.
All dealers ONLY carry the best lines yaddy ya.
They for the most part are boutique in nature / said owners are generally hobbyists and most all know more than me,fer sure.
I think most do well dealing with us picky hobbyists. We just aren't sure what we want or how much money we want to spend----Now add "we can get it online cheaper/ or used, cheaper". (I wonder what the suicide rate for dealers is?)