How would you run an audio salon?

Just wondering, as an audiophile how would you set up an audiophile shop?
I have got some ideas but will post them later except to say I would limit the number of brands and try my best to get it to sound its very best.
I would be nice, very nice to any and all who bothered to come in. I have been to one to many shops where they act bothered by your presence and if you do get a demo they think based on listening to their crappy sounding system you should be ready to get out the checkbook. Come to think of it. I've never been to an audio salon where I wasn't put off by the salesman. Mostly I've found they are just a bunch of big dorks with crap taste in music. I've mostly stopped bothering at this point.
You've been to that place too!
First, don't set up in a street level store front. Walk ins will drive you to the poor house. Make it a second floor walk up with frontage on the street, so you get plenty of daylight. Second, Hours should be 1PM to 8PM, Tuesday to Saturday. Of course extend other times by appointment only. Hire sales people, not audiophiles. You can train them into audiophiles, but hard to train an audiophile into a salesperson. While mentioning salesperson, try to hire gals. Very important they be attractive to the point the customers will want to flirt. Have, in addition to an open sales space, four listening rooms. Room 1, $1k-3K systems, Room 2, $4K to $8K, Room 3, $10K to $20K, Room 4, $25K up. Take trades, working capital of $500K, inventory of $400K, furniture and fixtures of $750K. Adversting/Marketing/Sales promotion must be 10% of sales after the first year, $40K the first year. Don't expect to turn a profit until the beginning of the fourth year. Pay sales people on commission only, 25/33% of gross profit, nothing less. Close for at least two weeks of vacation starting after the first year. If you can't accommodate all of the latter conditions, forget about opening a 'shop'.
Don't forget special listen sessions when audiophiles get to come in and talk to manufactures and listen to music.
Service, Service, Service I can't understand why some retailers act the way they do. I needed something from my dealer in NJ, and had to keep after him to buy whatever it was. He knows that I spend lots of money on this stuff, and yet, he was not there to suggest, and schmooze me. I thought that was him, so here I am in Arizona. I need my Vandersteen's voiced..a process that authorized Vandy dealers alone can do. I had to contact this guy a number of times, and now he says he'll do it next week...we'll see. If it were me, I'd also bring some things to demonstrate in my system to show me what these things can bring to my system..power conditioners, cables, LP records, resonance controll gizmos...anything to make a sale. We'll see....
Be like Audio Connection in Verona NJ is a good start. I see Buconero said hire pretty women and have it on second floor but for those of us in solid relationships and who are also disabled thats a stupid plan, a gal that answeres phones and greets is nice but most of us could care less other than that and its too expensive and inmportant to worry about flirting. I also dont want to be sold to by a journeyman salesman, I want to talk to those who really love music and this pursuit and not a guy who may sell cars or gutters next week.
I say have it in a house, a comfortable space with real world sense of space and accoustic performance that will also keep overhead way down, easy parking is a plus too. Dont qualify customers and dont expect a purchase everytime you see someone, those who get treated well and are not rushed will return and return again. Dont plan on getting rich, you will be let down every time and be prepared to perhaps hate your hobby you love........sometimes making a business out of a hobby could ruin it for you. Last, send me lots of SWAG!
Stringreen, what do mean by needing a dealer to voice your Vandersteens? Is it the settings adjustments on the 5s.
My wife suggests a jewelry counter in the corner for a "get back" to that expensive amp...
Buconero117 has most of the right ideas. I don't know about the sexy part. Also, loaner pieces, home setup of speakers, wide range of equipment (get that past the manufacturers if you can). Unfortunately many of the distributors of quality lines make you take all their products, not just the ones you like. You may be forced to set up rooms that may have great speakers, but mediocre electronics. You also need loaners for when customers send their pieces in for repair. But, all in all, it is a losing proposition and only for the wealthy who can afford to lose money just to provide an environment that is relaxed, fun, informative, and artistic, and will ultimately lose a ton. I miss the old days!
One thing I would like to see is a showroom with just one system, one pair of speakers and one of each: power amp, preamp, turntable. Thats it, but the best sound out there. Where all the components work well together, synergy baby. And it'll sound live.
Who knows maybe some day I'll demo my merlins for prospective owners, yes with the bungee chords. Of course not any time too soon, I am looking to try tubes and will determine which works best with my other components.
Did anyone ever notice one particular audio shop doing better setups than other shops?
Before any one jumps to any conclusions just thought I would mention I have no intention of running a business related to audio, this is not a plug, the demo would be for audiophile friends and possibly the occasional prospective customer interested in the brands I use.
I would take the traditional sale of Hi Fi to the next level...audiophile consultations. The individual customers needs and desires would be addressed and discussed with musical preferences, budget and listening environment in mind. I would be beholden to no ONE manufacturer as I would draw upon a select number of quality dealers to satisfy the customer. The process would be personal, involve extensive listening sessions and custom setup...all for a reasonable fee! Well, maybe slightly unreasonable but so worth it.
Dave you cant offer anything that cant be had here for free or from a conversation with stand up dealers.
I'd run it just like The Analog Room in San Jose, CA. It's located in a house with regular rooms, offers great gear and has an excellent selection of music. Best of all, it's like hanging out with a bunch of audio friends rather than a salesman, customer relationship.

BTW, I have no affiliation.
Pedrillo, there is no one system that everyone will agree upon as the best out there. Such a dealer would last about as long as virgin on a naval base.
only sell components that i personally like. allow the customer to borrow a component for a reasonable amount of time. allow the customer to judge with his ears.
i would not attempt to influence, or give advice, except to help a customer avoid a mistake. i would not suggest that one component or stereo system is better than another. the customer would sell himself rather than a salesman selling the customer.

i wish there were such an audio salon where the customer was not influenced to buy a product.

the closest analogy i could think of is an audio store as a museum. come in and less.

my motto: we select , you decide.
i wish i was more knowlegeable about business models but i'm not. but the ONE thing i believe is that you need to find out what kind of loudspeakers the customer wants (size, style, how much air they want to "push", and how much refinement they are looking for). do they want polks or magico's? or?? ONCE you can get them to commit to a certain specific catagory and/or model, then you can determine what sources and amplification, etc. they'll need. you also might want to make a trip to their home and look at the room(s) they want to listen in. it would be nice to show up in a van, take out a pair of monitors, a really good (but small) amp, and a cdp- something that won't take up much room and you can set up in 30 minutes. play music THEY like, but bring along a couple of very well recorded cd's as well.
if you can leave them with the impression of how much more music they'll hear with gear that's very carefully designed to turn dry two-dimensional sound into music that "breathes" and has some real "life" to it, then they will be able to
decide if they want to spend the money or not. naturally THEN you will hopefully be adept enough to accomidate them if they can only invest a small amount of money at a time.
as for a store full of expensive gear sitting there waiting
for someone to like it enough (or try to get it used here on audiogon) i honestly don't have a clue other than of course to provide alot of personal service, a one year upgrade policy, etc. and of course try to sell their old stuff for them as well. i would also try to save customers as much money as possible on WIRE. not to besmerch anybody (i own transparent!) but unless THEY want/demand premium wires, i believe there are alot of excellent cables without big price tags. i also wish dealers could find good local Carpenters that could build equipment racks and audio furniture- AND help with the local economy.
A lot would depend on the cost of floor space, but a I have sometimes thought about a variation of Pedrillo's idea:

Arrange a store with all equipment on display (on wheels/rolling stands) in a large area as you walk in. Two or three different sized, but treated, listening areas sit empty in back. move gear as necessary for a demo.

As a practical matter, more affordable gear may be arranged in standard fashion in another room. I realize that this idea is space/time intensive and won't work in Manhattan, but maybe Manhattan, Kansas?
I wonder if an in home store for high quality two channel sound would work. If there were more stores with lower overhead it could be that more people could be introduced to hi end audio. Friendly personal service always is a key to building a customer base.
Alot of great ideas!
When I mentioned the one speaker/system in a room- I forgot to mention there would be a couple of rooms.
What I am trying to say is: since my experience has shown me that when entering an audio salon never blew me away with amazing sound when what I have at home is so much better why not have a business with a couple of rooms but in each of the room with a different flavor of course have it set up with components that match very well and produce an incredibly realistic sound like never heard before.
Just think about how the trickle-down technology has led the mid-fi equipment to sound pretty damn good. When I walk into bestbuy I am surprised at how good the lesser expensive stuff sounds, it is so good for the money, really. The audiophile salon has to really blow the peoples minds in that amazing presentaion. That is more likely to happen when the room is dedicated to one set up with no other idling speakers there to resonate when a demo is given with the other speaker playing.
And I would treat that room with acoustical traps and diffusers to get it perfect, who cares if you risk scaring off the customer with too much ancillaries, chances are they will not notice it but the music will defenitely be noticed!!
One system but amazingly impressive, downright explosive, head-turner, shockingly amazing. And all this with each room at different price points.
When we audiophiles go to expos, don't we seek out the rooms known to be as the best in the world, are we not there to hear what could be the best sound possible to discover what potential could be had.
I went to a couple shops in nyc recently, and I can only think of the one system that was set up properly, it even beat out the wilson sophias, maybe because one was digital and the other analog. But as you can see, the wilson are one of the highly recognized companies but verity fidelios sounded better to me at least. JMHO. But it wasn't just the fidelio's, shindo and gerrard may be the key players.
That's the way in my mind to run an audio salon, leave a lasting impression.
I still believe the source is significant, and if the prospective customer can't afford the $ tag of the whole system the salesman can remind them it's a steping stone, and that a temporay solution can be used such as this: the first step would be sell the speakers/amp as a package and a cd/preamp combo as a temporary source. And later on the better preamp and cd player or turntable can be purchased to bring up to snuff the sound in the customers home to match what was heard in the showroom.
The in home idea is a good one. Back in the late 70's we had a guy here in Las Vegas that set up a system in his home and sold by word of mouth. I can't remember all the components but the Sequarra Pyramid speaker system still stands out in my mind.
The model has already changed in the UK, High street stores have disappeared with a few exceptions. People work from home or small lock ups, consultations by appointment. It may be because the market is shrinking, but do you really need to cater for a passing trade? Do people walk pass and say "darn it, I knew there was something I needed, a $200,000 HiFi system". No obviously they do'nt. If you have appointments only, it can be a one man and his wife band. Many work from home only, with very long suffering wives. You save on staff and High street fixed costs, rent and taxes
You can provide a personal service which can include:
Dems set up for the customers particular needs
Home dems and home problem solving with accessories/room treatment
Taking in part exchanges, a good selection often attracts me to a dealer
Skilled services, particularly turntable set up and a good engineer who can repair onsite.

It is not news that the High End is contracting round the world, but that brings opportunities too. Small scale, skilled retailers and cottage industry manufacturers. Look at the range of excellent new small scale producers, particularly in the US, K&K audio, Daedalus, Ridge Street, Tyler and many more. They can undercut the biggies by direct selling, no advertising, marketing budgets, but selling by word of mouth, as it should be.
a more conventional approach...

Getting, and keeping inventory on site is a pricey enough option, though for a brick and mortar joint, it is part and parcel a must. Consequently, selling what is being demonstrated is usually a ‘given’

Definite considerations towards the product lines being brought in or desired would take some thought. Production, availability, timelyness, shipping considerations, floor planning, or FOB BUYS, WILL DETERMINE MANY OF THE ON SITE PIECES YOU’LL CARRY, IF NOT ALL OF THEM. Then too, are the manufacturers requirements… the whole kit and kabuddle? Or as you wish it assortments, the stability of the producer is also important..

However, if we’ve aligned all the fresh new goodies we want to sell already, and if start up funding was unlimited I’d go with the initial posters suggestions.. mostly. However, a draw is needed. I’d sell CD’s, albums, and DVD’s. New and preowned. Accessory sales also constitutes a substantial piece of the pie. Cables, cords, tweaks, conditioners, and room acoustics would be offered and available.

I’d also keep that facet segregated from the upper end items, but all with the same ground level or accessible entrance, so customers can be apprised more than software is available.

Going with several demo rooms, One would be a static display of sources, conditioners, preamps, etc… all the more mobile and non currently integrated & energized components available. Some under glass, some tangibly exposed, and have that room itself exposed by way of a full length plexiglass wall and or sliding tempered glass doors..

I’d have an entry level audiophile 2 ch, and HT systems, set into the adjacent room just off or past the partitioned office area and static displays. This would be all SS & 2ch tube gear as well, representing our more conveniently acquired values in high end audio and video performing equipment.

The next audition venue would be allocated for mid fi Audiophile & up, tastes and include both tube and SS 2 ch arrangements. Monitor and floor standing speakers, naturally, would be set up, yet be interchangeable. for the qualified buyer considerations and differing mixes would then be easily accomplished.

The high end, and final room would be comprised of “sky’s the limit” products, inclusive of hidden HT PJ & Screen. Top flight amps, preamps, (BOTH 2Ch & Multi) and sources. Both tube and solid state systems could be well represented there. Here would be where the top level of the carried lines would perform and be displayed.

Each room would represent a logical step up in performance, and price, yet still continue to show the varying tiers of the electronics being carried by the store

If at all possible, nothing will be demonstrated that isn’t run in or set up properly.

The atmosphere in all audition rooms will be as close to an ‘in home’ experience as is possible. Plants, pictures, or tapestries, and a nice sweet spot chair.

Once qualified, an appointment can be set up to better accommodate a buyers particular needs at the show room. If a sale can not be otherwise closed on site, or the customer requests it, and is completely qualified by then, a limited in home trial can then be offered on the piece (s) in question once a security or deposit has been presented.

Naturally the piece (s) will be delivered and set up by the dealerships staff, and picked up as well. A service fee will also be acquired up front that will be subtracted from the sale if one is consummated following the trial period.

After a time, I’d likely institute an upgrade facility, providing for up to 100% of the purchased value towards the desired likewise upgrade if conditions & criteria are well met and those lines of gear still are being sold by the store. Albeit, appearance, condition, time frame, etc. I’d also like to offer outside financing resources to further accommodate the shopper. In lieu of extended financing arrangements, I’d also offer very short terms upon a substantial deposit, subsequent delivery and setup, such as 60 to 90 days on in house sales, though perhaps not on special orders.

The business ‘aire’ would be one of devotion to the consumer’s desires, within reason. I wouldn’t tolerate erudite or condescending attitudes, or sales tactics. There would be no intimidation of the customer what so ever. Accompanied by a sales person, consumers could browse all of the in house gear… unless an appointed audition was in progress, and then all other areas save the currently in use, previewing room.

At the onset, I would need at least one other knowledgeable sales person with experience in audio video and a proven positive sales history. Past that I would hire only trustworthy people. It would be a requirement that all sales people learn both their own product lines, and those which are in direct competition with them. I’d require they shop their competitors regularly.

An extensive history of audio & video gear would be nice, yet not a prerequisite for an initial hireing, though necessary for an ongoing position.

Personality and professionalism would generate more interest towards them being placed in my employ. Affable, polite, and outgoing sorts who possess integrity would be the ones I would seek out. Dress would be business casual. A knowledge base of how to qualify and close a customer would indeed be a prerequisite to remain on board.

The gender of the sales staff wouldn’t matter to me so long as all were polite, courteous, and attentive to a shoppers presence, and immediate requirements.

The ongoing esthetic would be appropriate to the previewed equipment. Allowing for more upscale accommodations as the price of the equipment grew. However I’d likely not have a Venus de Milo, or sport Picasso’s or Monet’s on the walls in any case…. Unless they were great acoustic treatments.

Professional in home set up would be inclusive on many purchased items, depending upon their nature. First level support would of course be available for all products.

Along with periodic promotions, an annual private sale would commence by invitation to previous buyers, either in May, or October.

I’d also create an online presence and outlet for those who know what they want, or for inquiries on carried product lines and upgrades.

Competition breeds excellence. I’d remain competitive with those other sellers who offer the same items as I did… as long as appels are being compared to apples of course.

I’d prefer to build in or next to a police station… or in a well traveled area… but likely not in a business or in town district.

With limited funds, or none… I’d provide an online shopping site, and offer ‘inn house’ demos upon prearranged appointments and qualifying. This no frills venue, would be more than competitive, yet remain in the guidelines of the prospective makers requirements, drop shipments, personal setups, price protections, area restrictions etc., if preexisting. All major components, peripherals, and as well, accessories sales, would be supported always.

Every item sold would be inspected and tested (preferably in the presence of the buyer) prior to installation or sale.

One notion on company policy might be “In God we trust, all others pay cash.”… barring that one, perhaps some note of devotion to the audio & video enthusiast, audiophiles, and those people who simply enjoy music and movies, should persist, with an imbedded aspiration to sales and service, before, during and after the sale.
I would start with $15 million, so after I lose my ass and slam the doors I might still have something left for retirement.
Narrod.... I just moved from NJ to Scottsdale, Arizona. I bought my 5A's with me, but they have to be tuned to the new room with the use of a special tone generating CD disc specially for this process, and a sound pressure meter. There are corresponding controls on the 5A's and if all goes as it is supposed to, the speakers are dialed into the room.
Lol - yeah, this is all a nice "fantasy land" you have all concocted here. But, take if from someone who's worked in a quite a few audio/video and hi-end stores, YOUR DESTINED TO CLOSE THE DOORS!!!
First off, your "audiophile" market is not where you're going to make ANY MONEY! Most of your audiophiles and old 2 channel guys DON'T BUY THEIR SYSTEMS FROM RETAIL STORES!! They trade on the net, and have have the same systems for decades. They piece stuff together on rare occasions, and get it from all different sources - and usually not yours!!!!
That is why very very very few AV salons do high end 2 channel anymore. Most of them have gone to mainstream, mass-market custom installation, of mid-fi products! -where the money is! (with a few higher end pieces thrown in to make em feel like they offer something "special!") That's how it is folks. Sorry to inform you.
Most all of the audiophiles are the guys who piece stuff together here and there, and mostly "used stuff" on the net!
THE ONLY WAY to make a higher end av salon work, selling upscale audio/video, is to have a professional, higher end setup in a higher end neighborhood, selling to rich folks! There is very little other options. Yes, you can do some stuff no one else does/offers, essoteric gear, custom setups, mods, and repairs and such. But it all gets down to the relationship with your client, the location (critical), and how well you present and market yourself to your community! You also need a good sales-force, that people feel comfortable with, and who are confindent and educated about what they're sellilng.
It is VERY hard to keep the doors open on audio/video shops (without custom especially), and most who survive, only do just that - "survive"...not thrive.
You can have the best sounding, well engineered, best equiped, most stocked, best laid out shop around. And it will fold like dominoes, costing you big bucks!
Anyone trying to make one of these shops work, better do their homework, find a stellar location with upscale clients, (forget selling mostly "mid-fi", as you'll be competing with the entire world on the net, and the chain stores...and they'll GRIND YA to death!), and get a good marketing strategy and biz plan together. Also, you'll NEED to do custom to make any real profits. $80-$125/hour, per installer, is something you need to be doing to make money here - yep. You simply can't make a homerun in this biz by waiting around for that "whale" to come in and plunk down $100k for a surround sound system! It rarely ever happens.
I've worked in stores with Wilson, Thiel, Martin Logan, Magnapan, Audio Physics, Celestion, Krell, Theta, Audio Research, Audible Illusions, Pass Labs, Nero, and more! These stores only worked because they were in prime locations, with clients that drove up in $60k automobiles, with cash to spend! And even then, they had to rely on custom to keep real profits flowing in.
Good luck to anyone trying to do more "mid-fi" retail gear! You'll get all the Best Buy shoppers and drifters floating through the store, and you'll struggle to make the rent!!!
Siddh I hope you are talking euros.
First, I would get a lobotomy
Reminds of Richard Branson's reply when asked how to become a millionaire he quipped "Start with a billion dollars and buy an airline"!
As you can see, one is not able to get much practical or personaly meaningful information from Audiogon on a consistent basis. Everyone is biased, everyone plays favorites and no one has it all figured out. That's why I would truly place the customer first using my audiophile consultant model....the customers needs and want's would drive the purchase. Value and performance within a given budget would be the goal. Great sound can come in many sizes and shapes....overspending on highly regarded components assures one of zilch!! Environment and set up mean the most...even a boom box can sound great in the right space. When you are committed to sell a certain product, you the expense of the customer.
Hey Jazdoc...could also assemble a castle's worth of assets, make your way into musicianship; especially jazz...ultimately qualify for medicaid.
i would have a problem selling a product i don't personally like. i think it's a matter of integrity not to misrepresent your principles.

i think it's better to cater to yourself first and the customers, second. you will get more respect from people that way.


........."As you can see, one is not able to get much practical or personaly meaningful information from Audiogon on a consistent basis. Everyone is biased, everyone plays favorites and no one has it all figured out."

So, uh, did the dog die, or did you get an invite to divorce court today?

That's a mighty critical statement.
Following up on Dave B's comments, I think there has been some very interesting posts. If the average retailer followed a small percentage of them, he would do well. I tend to agree though, that starting a High End Audio salon is the first step to bankruptcy.
Blindjim, none of the above (no dog/happy marriage). Not critical either really, just reality! Any dealer is going to sell what he has to offer..Duh! I'd rather draw on a larger universe of possibilities for the customer. That being said, there is a very cool historic property for sale across the street from me...Hmmm, make a very nice high end salon:)
Since we're all dreaming here. If I was do something like setting up an Audio Salon, I would approach it more as a hobby, and not as something that my livelyhood and retirement would depend on. Basically it would be a retirement business, and would be geared more for social and music enjoyment than to make any kind of real money. IWO, if I could make it break even I would be happy. I would also specialize in used and vintage equipment with good reputations, and somewhat affordable in price. The market I would be after would be less the audiophile crowd, and more the crowd that enjoys music, and wants a good sounding system that's definely a cut above the "same old, same old" Mid-Fi offering but still falls within a Mid-Fi price range. And to do that I would probably have three or four systems put together at any given time that would not only be for sale, but also be systems that I personally could also enjoy. Of course, I would have various other components and speakers available for the music lover who might want to change a thing or two in the system to suit their particular music and listening needs. Of course, carrying used/vintage equipment would also mean that I would have to have the service available to keep these pieces running at their best. In addition I would probably would want to carry some CDs of independent, regional artists (emphasis on more acoustic based artists with genres being bluegrass, old-time, blues, folk and Celtic music) and every once in awhile maybe have some of these artist stop by for an in-store performance.

Good used/vintage equipmet with a good service department in a small college town with a good local arts community somewhere in wertern North Carolina or Virginia, and an appeal to the musicains and music lovers in that area could be a winning combination.
I saw this idea briefly mentioned in one of the mags but didn't feel it was amplified enough. I would try to cater to the ipod crowd. I'd write in HUGE graffitti-Crazy Eddie-like lettering; "Ipod users welcome!!! Come On In!!! Then hook up those suckas to these Sooloo/Voodoo systems (you know what I mean!;) and go from there. They'd be using their own 'pods and be listening to their own music! I Read that if you could convert as little as ONE percent (1%)of Ipod users it would be a HUGE jump/bump for the audiophile industry.
Dave you imply nobody here has it all figured out and at the same time pump yourself up as having all the answers yet you only offer an extra expense with no proof of expert qualifications. If you intend to "consult' housewives and teenagers thats fine but if your goal is to do something that most any honest and experienced dealer can provide to fellow audiophiles who can also ask around in these and other forums I suggest you dont quit your day job.

See, I'm kind of with Chadnliz here... sort of... I've been given superior info, help, assistance, and options from many folks here, private parties and dealers too.

Also I've not noticed the bias you point towards, or cluelessness being so widespread... guess I've not ran into them folks yet, but I've been active here for some years now. I suppose I should have by now though.

Information and it's value is how you find it and how you take it, not to mention how you use it, or don't.

I see this thread as a simple exercise in imagination... and likely some experiences. Past or present. My own notation was based on a combination of experiences and a local store which has stood the test of time now some 15+ years as I can best recall. The one I helped run and was the buyer for is flourishing, and the second still has the doors open. I'm not privy to the P&L statement of that one, but keeping the doors open is a stateent all by itself these days.

In fact there is one other nearby which IMO does none of my perscribed ideals and has also stood the test of time now about the same length, 18+ years. they went from once being customer friendly to well, not so friendly let's say... ONce they had a few locations, now only one.

Consequently, lots of plans can andd do work, I believe, but it's a mighty risky venture IMO. One I'd love to do again. This time though, more upscale.

Dealers do sell what they have. Duh. they have choices in what they want to sell as well, more often than not. there are items on the sales floor which are mere tools. Folks like to see lot's of stuff. Having lots of expensive stuff everywhere is just too damn expensive. 'Value' items have to be added for the eye, the mind, and for texture & choices. Sometimes you'll sell off them, sometimes you'll sell them.

Different strokes for different folks. if you paint your self into a corner by catering to a narrow facet of the economy, you got to have the best mousetrap out there, AND be able to sell it. The only time sales isn't involved is usually when no one else makes the same thing, or with loyal repeat buyers.... everyone else needds to be sold somehow.
"Since we are all dreaming here"

If I wanted to set up a business with any chance of success, any at all, what I would do is specialize in the sale of stuff not only well supported by stable manufactureres who stand behind their product, but I'd also make sure they protected their dealers so that all of the internet audio specialists couldn't just walk in and waste their time with questions and demos and then depart to buy it over the internet at a discount with which no B&M dealer can compete. I wouldn't have to give discounts to get/keep my customers.

I would also make sure that my products had appeal to the 'carriage trade' who are more concerned with either bling or owning the stuff considered to be the 'best'. That makes your investment in conversations, demo's, and in home set-up assistance worthwile. I'd give that type of business about a 10% chance of returning a profit.

The last B&M dealer I personally knew, who sought to do what every one sez they want from a B&M dealer, was operating in city with a metro population in excess of 1 million people, offered a diverse selection of good inexpensive product as well as top quality - both tubes and SS, offered valuble advice in the most positive way, never criticized the products of others including the buyers, always made the customer feel 'special' and had several SOTA audition rooms as well as facilities for live performances of local musicians. Not only that he would give discounts to repeat customers. Needless to say he went bankrupt for lack of support from the audiophile community.

I'm sure this tale resonates with a lot of folks who have lost their local dealers.

Oh, BTW, this was even before the advent of the internet 'dealers' who now in the absence of B&M dealers to compete, expect full price for letting you order out of a catalog, provide minimal support, and change product/manufacturers like they change shirts. Profit margin mentality prevails, even on the internet.

I always enjoy reading responses from audiophiles in threads where someone has asked for advise. They say "Don't buy based on recommendations of others, use your own ears on stuff you have auditioned in your own home" without regard to how that audition might reasonably be expected to occur with most internet stuff, especially used stuff such as is sold in A-Gon.

Times have changed.

Rant over! :-)
Blindjim, well said my friend! You are a kindred spirit for sure. Sometimes I simply grow tired of the process we consumers must embark upon to obtain our audio dreams. Your point regarding the wealth of information available on the 'Gon is wise is dependant on how you take it and what you do with it. So when do we open up our new place? :)
"...everyone plays favorites and no one has it all figured out." (Dave b)

Er, Chadnliz and I have it all figured out- fer the record-lol

"i would have a problem selling a product i don't personally like. i think it's a matter of integrity not to misrepresent your principles." (Mr. Tennis)

Mr. Tennis, I see your NOT a salesman! And if you ever did decide to open a store, may I suggest hiring some good salesman to do the job for you - lol
First off, what you think is good, and what you may like, is NOT NECESSARILY WHAT OTHERS WILL LIKE AND WHAT'S RIGHT FOR THEM! (Chocolate vs. Vanilla). Yes, you may truly believe that Chocolate is indeed better than Vanilla. But you would be wrong! - and it goes the same with audio.
Yes, your enthusiasm may help you a little in selling some gear. But at the end of the day, you need to find out what's right for your customers, NOT YOU!!
Your goal as an accomplished audio/video salesman would be RELATIONSHIP, RELASHIONSHIP, RELASHIONSHIP!- and you helping the custom get WHAT THEY WANT!...not what you want, or think they should have, because you like it, and/or you think it's the best! NO NO NO NO NO!!! This is why audiophiles and engineers make lousy sales people - lol.
It's not about you! Don't take it personal. When it comes to sales, its about helping the customer get what they want. You do this by building trust, qualifying them (what they've heard and liked/used in the past, etc), offering an option or two, overcoming any objections, and then closing the sale! (and, of course, follow up - relationship).
There is nothing more to sales of audio/video! - and you can still like what you like, and keep it to yourself. Because that will never ever help you sell anything!!
Note to self: EVERYONE owns different audio/video gear, and for good reasons! - even the professional mag reviewers...
OMG-like lol fer the record naked are such the MOTO! You are the poster child for average salesman of the year. Er, Note to self-never playnaked ...unless your payed for it!
if i go to an audio dealer and detect that he is a selling a product he doesn't like, i won't buy it from him, period.

there is too much salesmanship and hype and too much bull.

i wouldn't go to a chevy dealer to buy a cadillac.

so, if i carried brand x,y and z and a potential customer had no interest in x, y and z, the customer would shop elsewhere.

another example, i would stop patronizing a restaurant, if i observed the owner eating at another establishment.

i don't think it's about salesmanship. it's about letting the customer decide for hi/herself, without the salesmanship. the performance of a product should sell itself.

i guess i have a different philosophical approach than most people.
I think some have it all wrong, this is a hobby and a passion so a run of the mill salesman is going to drive many true and intelligent audiophiles away. From the car, furniture, and many other examples people dont want to establish a relationship with some fast talking dueshbag salesman Your job is to give them access to products and answers to concerns and questions while the product sells itself. Naked, you can lol all you want and make as many suggestions as you wish but if you ran a store I bet it would be very much like seeing you experience we all would prefer to avoid. Anyone claiming to have it all figured out is confirming they dont just by making that statement, as a friend once told me "Empty cans make the most noise". Note to self, if me saying note to self sounds as dumb as it looks then never do it again.
I am with Mrtennis here. Lets say a complete HiFi novice, but great salesman opened a store and an Audiophile with no sales experience. Who do you think will succeed?
Sure, you have to have some sales skills, but the salesman will only sell once to a newbee. Audio is'nt selling baked beans, if I go into a store, I will have questions about a product someone is selling, if I get flannel back, I am out of the door.
As far as kit to stock is concerned, you can not stock only stuff you like, but you can only stock from companies you respect, have a long track record and give customer support. How are you going to know who those companies are unless you have been round the block? Most customers are'nt fools and I hope most audiophiles with a significant sum to spend, are'nt. Do you think we can not distinguish a knowledgeable enthusiast from a salesman, whose last job was selling baked beans. If you can't, perhaps you should'nt be allowed out with your credit card. Should I get a hard sell in an audio store, by someone denigrating my kit and other manufacturers, I will not be going back.
"naked -you are the poster child for average salesman of the year." (Dave b)

I wholeheartedly agree Dave b! Yes, I fancy myself no salesman. That's why I'll be paying "quality" salesman to do my work for me.
I'll DEFINITELY be letting the pro's do their job! And I'll be the master manipulator behind the scenes - taking in all their hard earned bucks! - lol.

"this is a hobby and a passion so a run of the mill salesman is GOING TO DRIVE MANY TRUE AND INTELLIGENT AUDIOPHILES AWAY."

GOOD! Yes, DO Definitely drive all those "audiohiles" out of MY store - you bet!!! A store full of audiophiles is a store full of CHATTY CATHY'S - all standing around reminiscing about vinyl and tube amplifiers - who will all end up wasting your time, using your systems (and store) to audition gear that they will DEFINITELY be shopping for on the net anyway!!!...not spending a dime in your store! I know, because after working in numerous chain and hi-end salons over the decades, I've seen these jokers waste more salesman's time than all other customers combined!(potential, rather. What a joke!) And not just mine, but EVERY SALESPERSON'S I've ever seen have to deal with em's time too!
Yep, I say get rid of ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL of the audiphiles from ANY STORE YOU PLAN ON OWNING - you bet ya! (lol)
Yes, I'm an audiophile. And I wouldn't want to sell to me, either! - lol. Infact, my store would go out of business if all my buyers were...ehem....audiophylis'ssesses! YUCK!!!
Yeah, give me a steady traffic of "Consumer Reports" readers, family of 4's, New home-buyer couples, and young Yuppie enthusiests with too much money to burn - EVERY TIME!
Those ARE your buyers, right there.

Just as soon as the $$$ is in place, a location is found, (I'm thinking by the MLB OR nhl teams' digs... they have the longest season)and merchandise is lined up... also, given all the input here I think we ought to have a car audio salon, car wash & detail immediately adjacent (and run strickly by great looking and scantily clad gals and MAYBE ONE guy... women spend money too), and a pool hall upstairs... just to be on the safe side.

ps... if the pool hall doesn't prove out, we can put a firing range and sell guns... with high end conditioners, er, uh, that's silencers, in lay terms.
car wash & detail immediately adjacent (and run strickly by great looking and scantily clad gals

That will scare all the audiophiles customers away! Are you crazy?

You need a dingy, poky place, cluttered with vinyl and CD's and gear strewn about everywhere - that is how you get the right kind of customers. The ones that return time and time again and hang around your store for hours, agonizing over all the upgrades, latest models, oxygen free cables, interconnects, cleaning fluid or anti-static devices. You know - the kind of guys who can't ever make up their mind and stick with something - those who are always down in the basement tweaking gear - the kind that are always extremely insecure and scared of talking to beautiful girls...and a commitment. The kind of guys who associate "fluid" with "meticulously cleaning their vinyl" (not bodily fluids)and "contact" as something between a cable and an amp (not two people).... guys whose idea of "a weekend of adventure" is a replacing an interconnect...

Anyone starting an audio store needs to read this book first!
I am lucky enough to have 2 local hi-end stores. Both are very good. One specializes in HT installs but has a thriving business in Hi-end. Everything from Pass Labs and Mac on down to some NAD and Cambridge Audio. I nearly bought a McCormack DNA from these guys.
The other store has about 7 or 8 listening areas and easily 7 digits in inventory. I bought my Maggies from them...he went in back and dollied them out, after a good Demo with the same amp as I use at home.
I've always been treated well and been left alone to listen or kept company to chat, no problem.
What's the problem?
Yeah, hi-end sure looks like a fine way to go broke. I would think the path to success would be a combination of lots of ingredients.
background in both hi-end and sales experience. Deep pockets, great location and a good network of friends to get things moving. Keep it professional. I would suspect that a being a good judge of character is important, too, to choose sales and service help.
Don't expect to get rich...quick or otherwise.