I am openning a shop. What equipment should I sell

Planning on opening a retail "store front" what equipment should I carry?? Should I sell at price points or sell what sounds good? How important is base response in speakers. What is the right approach??
What is your target market?

Are you going to do both 2 channel and HT?

What brands are not sold in your area?

What brands have multiple retailers in your area?

Are you going to do installs and POS or just POS?

Is it going to be a Hi-Fi shop only?

Bass (not base) response is important to some and not to others. Depends on if someone is going to use a separate sub or not and what type of music they listen too. Also how big the room is. Among other things.

I think you should sell at price points that sound good. I would never sell something that sounds bad to make a buck. If you did, you will not be in business for too long. Sell people a good quality product with good service and you will get repeat customers.

No offense, but if you don't know the answers to your questions already you probably need to hire someone to run the shop for you that knows the answers.

Good luck.
If you have to ask these questions, you are not even close to being educated or prepared for a venture into store front audio, sorry ...
I never really liked them, but a lot of people seem to think Bose speakers have good base.
First thought in my mind is, why are you asking us? We don't know your market. What is your competition selling?
Sell something different to avoid price wars.
What price range will your client base be willing to pay?
Don't sell to high-end or they will pass you by.
What products are represented in your are by good distributers? See if they will do some consignment to get a feel for what people will bite into. What are you trying to attract most? Analog, HT, Stereo, mid range, high-end?
I wanted to do this a few years back and realized that the market was too competitive and the industry is too unstable. But best wishes
Here are some quick thoughts I had after opening my business:

Don't expect to get it right the first time. But keep trying and don't give in. Persistance pays.

This is a new experience with an expensive and steep learning curve to it.

Be flexible to market demands. What you want may not be what the customer wants. Be open. Listen.

Above all have fun and don't let the first 6-12 (maybe even 24) months discourage you. Stick with it. Nobody who's around today got here because they gave in when it was tough.

You are more than welcome to contact me privately and I will do my best to help you out in any way I can. I personally run my own audio business so I may have a few tips for you.

Here are a couple other folks who might be helpful to you as well:

Contact Scott at www.arisaudio.com as he will surely have good advice for you.

I would also consider calling Mike&Neli at www.audiofederation.com

They both have wonderful setups in homes with many great products.

Make sure you have given some thought to what you are going ask them, what you plan to do, and what steps you have taken in order to reach your goals.

Really prepare for a couple hours prior to calling them as their time is valuable and you'll want to be ready on your end.

Good luck - Have fun - and hopefully your business gets going for you without too much trouble!

I would only do this as a hobby, I don't think you can make a living with 2 channel. Curiously I get the sense that the market is becoming larger but at low price points. If you are going to take the plunge follow Theos advice and find a niche and also be prepared to be a specialist in HT. Whatever you do don't undercapitalize and be prepared to work really hard selling yourself.
used(on consignment). and if you must carry new products, don't take on any vendor who won't give you extended(and i mean extended) terms......if you pay the manufacturers in 30 or 60 days, you'll be out of business in no time.......my advice would be to invest in something growing, not shrinking.....get a starbucks franchise
Anything but Audio equipment.
Value. If you sell that, everything else falls into place.
This has got to be a joke post.............if you are asking these questions, then you would be better off going down to a casino and putting it all on black!
I'll have to agree with theo. This is a tough market to get into , espically with competeing with the internet as well. Circuit city stuff you mise will forget, your never gonna compete with them. Another factor is, where the heck are you?? what city, are you gonna draw enough people to warrant a retail shop. whose next to you? Plan to have alot of cash to back this up. If your just going in on a limited budget, foreget about it. Also will your products that you sell, allow you to sell on the internet? most will not. Good luck
A lot of the long established "2 channel" outfits, are now more into high end home theater and custom installation. That seems to be where the money is retail.

They all still sell 2 channel, but it takes up less floor space than before and/or if there is lots of space, the 2 channel is in the back of the store.
My favorite retailer says they pay the bills with home theater systems. This allows them to still carry 2-channel gear, which is what they truly enjoy. I suspect, that as others have stated, that is what you'll be doing if you intend to stay in business.
Seriously, Jim.........

As much stuff as you have sold here, I would like to think that you are knowledgeable enough not to even think of starting a retail store front.

All of my dealers went belly-up years ago. A few friends tried to hang onto their stores, but only after they went "HT". They eventually migrated into installation to prevent going belly-up.

Betting on black is around 50% chance of success. Opening a retail outlet is damn near 100% chance of going bust.
>if you are asking these questions, then you would be better
>off going down to a casino and putting it all on black!

Be fair now! Even if you know what you are doing in audio retailing, you may still have better odds at makin' a buck by going down to a casino and putting it all on black!
Does this imply you have no faith in the hardware you advertise through your web presence?

As one who represents himself as a dealer, your questions frighten me. Nevertheless, if you'd like to spend some consulting dollars, I'd be happy to sell you my opinions.

It's called a "business plan" for a reason.
Vacume cleaners.
I would tend to agree with those who have posted questioning why the OP has asked us if he is the one who plans to enter into business......

If this posting is legit, ..My suggestion is the Sell CUSTOMER SERVICE, ...this is completely lacking in almost every segement of business this day....where I live, the norm is poor customer service, whether it be at the dollar store or at the Ferrari dealership, across the board. I have expericned in the past year, 10% of the places I have frequented to have expectional customer service and 90% to be unacceptable.
dont get too stuck on the msrp,the guys who are pulling down the serious cash are the ones who throw the msrp out the window & base profits on volume as oposed to treating every customer like the next big whale.

if you give a guy a deal good enough when he decides to upgrade he can put a few bucks in his pocket instead of loosing a fat wad that same guy will be back .

yes bass response is important & try to carry speakers that offer great bass,not audiophile bass but real chest pounding bass like maybee vmps speakers or somthing along them lines where big buck speakers dont require a sub to give up some real bass.

if it were me i would try to carry brands that are offer ht as well as 2 channel & that are selling like hot cakes right now like krell,mcintosh,pass ect,these brands offer a massive established customer base & also are priced so high that there is a huge amount of room between your price & the msrp :)

somebody above mentioned selling used gear,bad move,take all trade ins right to the internet & get them off your sales floor & the same goes with any consignment gear,straight to the internet.

from what i know & see in high end audio sales the guys who try selling by the book dissapear quickly & the guys who sell with loopholes build new show rooms & sell the most gear.

Wow! If you are asking this question you need to rethink your plan to open a store. Be prepared to lose your investment. It is a tough business even for those with grat passion and knowledge. Good luck.
If you want to make real money, stick the the Pyramid Principle. "There are more people with money to spend on the lower end of the price scale, than at the top."

I'm sure you've done some research and know what the surrounding stores offer. Next, BE VISIBLE. Don't rent a store at a cheap rent in an out of the way location. You can not spend enough money on advertising if people don't see you.

Next, offer some high end products to test the waters. There's bigger margins here. If it works, increase the line. Ask the manufacturers to work Co-Op advertising deals with you. Some will. Some won't. But either way, you must convince them why they should.

Lastly, make your war chest has a heavy advertising budget. You need to advertise heavy in the beginning to get your name out. Do quickie 10 second radio spots with programming geared to your target market. If your selling ipods... that is a way different radio station. Figure at least a modest $10,000 in media advertising in the first 6-8 months, minimum, if you want to do it right. Don't take short cuts. Hire quality people. And finally, be honest with your customers and yourself. Good luck! :)
All the high end guys around here are doing HT or custom install to pay the bills. Very little floor space for 2 channel for the guys that still have showrooms. Three of the five stores in my area closed their showrooms and just to custom install now.
Audio Refinement w/o a doubt. Very good performance for the money. I would Also carry some of the mid fi stuff available. Mid fi such as Rotel, Adcom and the like. While they may not be in the same ranage as krell, YBA, AR, and the like they are better then most Mac stuff I have listened to, and they cost far less.

Bang for the buck, keep this in mind and you will suceed, do other wise and you may well fail in your endevour. After all, 5 sales of mid fi a day, to happy customers, beat the heck out of 1 sale a month of hi end.

Food for thought.
Hi Jim,

I always liked your (and other dealer's) approach to sell out of your home: Save the expensive rent and some of the risk having to recover from the first slow months of business. There's a reason I came to you to listen to the Abbys. More relaxed atmosphere, no buying pressure, BYOA (Bring Your Own Amp), etc.

As for a real store front: I would look for a neighborhood where people should be interested in getting into Hifi. Know your customer base. Denver seems great for Hifi these days, but is seems quite competitive. I always thought it would help to not sell the standard equipment. Something that catches a customer's eye when he walks in, i.e. more style than just showing off black boxes with silver faceplates and blue lights: The Abbys should work well there. So far I have not met anyone who is not impressed with them.

Good luck with a store front business if you decide to go that way.

I think you'll find another thread on this, but for speakers, you should consider the CARAVELLE.

I am not familiar with this speaker, but from what I read in this forum, it is THE BEST. It BLOWS AWAY every other speaker in the world.

Offering quality products like THE CARAVELLE will surely create a stampede to your door, whether or not you spend one single penny on advertising.

Remember, its not about marketing, promotion, hard work,macro economic trends or demographics -- its about QUALITY - so be sure to offer CARAVELLE.

The rest will fall into place.

Good luck
With a shop the services you provide the consumer are your most important selling point. I would recommend offering HT installation and home automation in addition to 2-channel retail; you'll reach more customers, and speaking from experience I can tell you that you make more money on services than retail sales provided you have steady business and aren't paying a professional installer to just sit around the shop four out of five days a week. As far as brands go, just try to find something reliable and decent that won't boomerang back to you. You need well known and solid performing "bread and butter" products that will draw in non-audiophiles (B&W, Pioneer Elite, Bose, etc) as well as exotic, specialty items exclusive to your store (Plinius, Cain & Cain, and so on). In my experience it's all about striking the proper balance in product offerings/price points and providing the customer with service exclusive to your business while doing so.

I think that is the joke post...........!

Just kidding.
I don't think he meant 'bass' when writing 'base'. I think he meant 'basic'. And, yes, a basic response in speakers is important, in fact, the better the response the more likely they are to go home with a customer. Just be sure to carry friendly speakers that are litter trained, and don't be upset when you sell more little monitors than big floorstanders. Seems most people want young ones when they're still so cute. Plus you can really influence their personality for when they grow up and...uh, wait a minute. What were we talking about here?
^^^^ I agree size does matter, no doubt. After all how can any manufacturer provide realistic output from a "small speaker" none that I have ever listened to have. But then I compare speakers to actual events that I have had the chance to listen and hear for myself- each persons hearing is different from the next, so w/o a doubt varity is a must. H/T is also a prereq in todays audio shop, even the good ones.
Cain and Cain, Klispch Heritage, McIntosh, Parasound, Anthem, Paradigm, Magnepan, Innersound, Denon, Onkyo, Clearaudio, Pro-ject, VPI, Marantz, Velodyne, Vandersteen, Anthony Gallo Acoustics, Quad, McCormack, Musical Fidelity, Bryston.

Best stuff you can find at most price points. Stay away from super, super high end and have some eclectic things. Sell at least 2 super well known lines, Klipsch and Paradigm, to get people in who will be blown away by things they have never seen if not into audio, ie Magnepan and Vandersteen.

Good Luck!!
Well you guys sure did offer lots of encouragement. Well maybe not so much, think I will finish my bottle of sleeping pills tonight, there are only 48 left. But seriously would you be more apt to buy brands that advertise a lot in the TAS and Stereophile? Have you ever purchased a product without reading a good review somewhere?
But seriously would you be more apt to buy brands that advertise a lot in the TAS and Stereophile?

Not me today, but me two years ago (and probably the majority of your customers), yes.

Have you ever purchased a product without reading a good review somewhere?
But seriously would you be more apt to buy brands
that advertise a lot in the TAS and Stereophile?

Advertizing was never really important (just can't stand ads in general). But I
used to orient myself using Stereophile and TAS reviews. These days I prefer
user comments and more independent reviewers, that had experience with
similar equipment as I have. As Tvad mentiones, a large fraction of
consumers will go for Stereophile and TAS recommendations, the other half
will go for looks, design, brand names or just price. And the rest will buy
factory direct...

Have you ever purchased a product without reading a
good review somewhere?

Somehow reviews have become less important. But I never bought something
without good user comments or hearing it for a longer time in my own place.
Well, going against the tide, as is my pattern, I first want to congratulate you for this thread, Sounds_real_audio. And, also to thank you.

I believe it is an excellent step you are taking. I have little insight into you beyond what I have seen here. But, I can say, any dealer who has the openmindedness to approach the audio public with this type of query is the kind of dealer I wish to do business with. In my opinion, one lesson many a dealer would do well to learn is that there is a reason we were given two ears, yet only one mouth. Listening is a far more important skill than most realize.

Beyond that, a person who has the courage to step forward and pursue his dream deserves my admiration. Most of the people I meet are not happy in what they do for a living. We can all relate to trying to do what they love for work. It is to be congratulated, not denigrated.

By opening yourself up, and seeing what the audio world WANTS to purchase, you give yourself a better chance of meeting those needs. And, a business who serves its customers has a far greater opportunity for success than one which does not.

For what it's worth, I can tell you that the dealer has much leeway in the brands they carry. Most high end manufacturers wish to expand their dealer network, so you are mostly in the driver's seat. For the most part, you can choose the brands you carry, as opposed to they choosing you.

As to which you carry, I would rely on your own intuition - sonically, economically, and relationshipwise. It seems obvious, but selling a brand you don't believe in will not allow you to put your full energy into the endeavor. There is a lot of good gear produced by bad companies, and a lot of bad gear produces by good companies. It takes time to develop the relationship, but finding good gear from good companies should be your end goal. What I can say beyond that is to also follow the market on some level. Levinson and Krell made a lot of sense in 1988. Solid state muscle was the rule of the day, and demanding speakers dictated that. The pendulum has swung to the opposite pole over the past decade, and it seems lower power tube and boutique gear is in vogue. Still, keeping somewhat of an eye as to what lies ahead will prevent you from falling behind the trends. Finally, the setups you put together should be synergistic and sonically fufilling. Disappointment during the audition has proven to me to lose a dealer any opportunity for business. Good sound makes people happy, whether the bass is powerful or not. Since 85% of the music resides in the midrange, if that isn't very good, the chances of painting a good picture seem poor.

We all have our horror stories about nose in the air dealers who try to talk to us as if they know all and we know nothing. Should we not welcome a person who seems to be cut from a different cloth? Hey, this is an opportunity to cultivate the kind of dealership most of us want to have in this field. Let's not squander that. Little is gained by cheap shots in this instance.
Trelja Thanks for that thoughtful response. You are correct the magic is in the midrange. I favor a "spot on" tonal quality as well. Don't ask me to define it, you just know it when you hear it. Amazing how many speakers, even expensive brand names miss the mark on both counts.
Sounds Real, I guess the real question is whether you are independently wealthy, or whether you intend to make a living from this enterprise. A friend of mine who is a dealer has stopped carrying a well-known, highly-regarded speaker line because he just can't move the product. Arguably, this line is "better" than competing products he also carries, but because of the expense and the lack of topical reviews, his customer base just isn't interested. He LOVES the product but loyalty to his bottom line means there is no space on the showroom floor for those speakers. Synergy, for him, involves the sound of a cash register ringing... I can tell you that, as a customer, the retailers that interest me the most are those that do carry lines I don't normally find in most shops; where the in-house systems are not only well-thought-out, but sound outstanding. Those are the dealers that I not only shop at, they're the dealers where I like to hang out.
It may not be so much as what to sell as opposed to what you can get. I co own a small business and many things come up that are not planned. What lines do you want to carry ?? and are there stores near you that carry these lines ? if so you probably won't get them. It is about cash flow,low overhead and profit, you have to make a profit to stay in business, it sounds obvious but many people who go into business forget that. What about money, how much are you planning to start with, are you in a state that charges sales tax, if you are and dont make they timely payments, they will find you.

And what about employees, watch out they can make you money but they can cost you money, very quickly too.

And what about marketing, where are you ? are you surrounded by wal marts,dunkin donuts and tatoo parlors? if so probably not good. And what do you think you need to sell in a month to stay open ? my guess is if it is you and another person working there around 35-40k a month in sales.
Here is an interesting view at audio asylum. http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/critics/messages/14934.html
Just one of the major problems in the industry. No one will stand up and honestly say what will work well together. Fear of other manufactures getting mad. Check out the last piece of advice from John. Last sentence. How true that is.

Here is an interesting view at audio asylum. www.audioasylum.com/forums/cri...
Just one of the major problems in the industry. No one will stand up and honestly say what will work well together. Fear of other manufactures getting mad. Check out the last piece of advice from John. Last sentence. How true that is

To make a stand is one thing.To honestly say is another.The fear of the reviewers and manufacturers is not getting mad at the competition or reviewers.They have run out of magic spells and snake oil.You have been in this hobby with such an intention to learn ,grow and better your listening experience .They have not kept up to you.They don't know what else to do.Take the movie industry,or TV...real life crap.Rocky 6 etc..remakes of your past favorites.Cover songs and groupes.Nobody creates anymore.We can only modify .Hifi is in trouble .Ipod ...as much as I hate them is the game today.

No one will stand up and honestly say what will work well together. Fear of other manufactures getting mad.

This is exactly why I suggested to you in private to stick with the arrangement that you currently have. Moving from your home to a storefront is literally a private to public transition, and suddenly the rules of the game shift from selling what you believe in to hawking what the public demands. Several dealers have told me they have dropped their favorite lines because they did not sell well, and they end up putting on their best sales face for a product line that in their heart is not as good. Why give up a passion for a job?
Hi Jim,

A quick question: What reasons to you see for moving from a home based
business to a storefront retail store? Expansion? Privacy? More access to
selling different brands?

I know selling out of your home is not ideal and very common. However, with
the current explosion of the Internet and the shift of the High End market to
Internet sales (Underwood Hifi, Music Direct etc.) and factory direct
(Welborne, Fi, Tyler, even Sophia Electric and Cain sell direct), it will become
increasingly difficult to keep running a storefront business. Interestingly
some of the Internet retailers (e.g. Acoustic Sounds) started out as home
businesses. Just a thought...

If you go ahead for a store front business, I would follow Trelja's advise:

As to which brands you carry, I would rely on your own
intuition - sonically, economically, and relationshipwise. It seems obvious,
but selling a brand you don't believe in will not allow you to put your full
energy into the endeavor.

Hopefully you will not get stuck in selling brand you don't like, as Howard
(Boa2) cautions.

Good luck,

These days, I don't see anyone that is not already a well-established dealer making money on audio. It's home theater, custom installation, distributed music/video, Crestron (or the like) control system and even automobile audio that makes money. Audio is often a dealer's passion, but rarely the bread-winner.

Still, you would need some lines of audio gear. I think a good anchor middle line of electronics is important (e.g., Arcam, Creek, NAD, Marantz). Having a line that covers everything and has a fanatic core customer base may also be a good idea (e.g., Linn, Naim, Audionote).

I also think some good speaker lines are key. With speakers, you can offer your customer real service (setup, auditions, etc) as a reason for shopping with you and there is less internet competition for new speakers. Some good basic lines include Vandersteen, Thiel, JM Labs, B&W, Spendor and Sonus Faber (note, I don't necessarily personally like the sound of all of these lines, but they do represent good value and/or good dealer support).

The stuff I personally like will never be best sellers, but, if you could support a few lines like these, it would be nice: Art Audio, Audionote (u.k), Emotive Audio, Basis, DeVore, Edgarhorn, Gradient and JM Reynard. A few budget lines I have heard that offered promising sound include: Rogue (US tube electronics manufacturer),Consonance and Cayin (Chinese).

Good luck on your endeavors.
A lot of people have gone bankrupt setting up shops and selling their ''favorite brand'' or gizmo they were passionate about. Trouble is, there is often a large gap (and resulting small market) between what the business owner likes as a result of personnal taste, and what his client's real needs and purchase criteria are. And this goes for any type of business, and mainly for high-end items of any type: photography, watches, boats...and high-end audio. The ''higher-end'' the product is, the smaller the resulting market is, and consequently the bigger the chances are that the real purchase decisions have to do with intangibles (like exclusivity, or prestige, or any number of things) instead of mainly product or product performance. Do you really think that people spending 8K thousand bucks on a Rolex ''self winding'' mechanical watch spend all this money for a watch to keep accurate time? Hell, the thing has a variation of + or - 6 seconds a day, and it still says ''superlative chronometer'' on it's dial - while a $ 600.00 Tag Huer will be INFINITELY more accurate, just as a $60.00 Timex for that matter.

There is nothing wrong with selling things you are passionate about. But success will only come if you are willing to sell products that ARE IN DEMAND regardless of the fact that you like them or not. It is the difference between a hobby, where you can indulge in only the things that you are passionate about, and a business, where you have to let go part of that passion in order to put butter on the table.

This is why I feel that extremely passionate people about high-end audio (minus a few exceptions) will do poorly as audio-business owners.
Sell the best equipment that you have never heard!
Maunfacturers are fussy. You can't just say you want to carry B & W and they will open you up.
Well its its been 5 years since the original question and
SOUNDS REAL AUDIO is still in business.
It appears that the equipment sold and the marketing plan has worked.
If SOUNDS REAL AUDIO has made it this far,in this economy my hats off to them.
Lately I was successful selling various Monster Beats head-phones. almost reached to the 70pct of profit.
Like the plumber who's house always leaks, you'll never listen to audio for pleasure again. Why would you want to do that to yourself?
But seriously, best of luck if you do decide to do this.
Hi Sounds real audio,
I went down that path myself. In todays market this is a tough proposition. I knew Randy Patton, so I carried a couple of his products. PS, Meitner, I didn't pick up Threshold. I built my own speakers. I came from the old Marcof Electronics/SpeakerCraft, so I actually sold more of my speakers than anything else. I ended up branching into car audio, that helped, I then branched into home theater and Installations. I was working day and night, I finally got the shop up to a break even, but wasn't making any money. I took my share out of the business, signed it all over to my partner, took my name off of everything. They lasted another 18 months struggling the whole time.
You have to be in the right place, carrying a reasonable mix of products and be willing to do this as a passion rather than a big income.... The overhead alone makes this a tough proposition. I believe that it is possible, but with the mix of products available, there is always someone selling a great product on the internet with no overhead and willing to make minimal margins that you can't compete with.
I believe that this is still possible, but it would require a real business plan, knowing your area, knowing your competition and understanding what your customer base will be. Good Luck, Tim

You are so right. Just sell stuff you have never heard. The reviews say it is good so it must be.
Seriously I think a lot of these on line retailers must do that.


Thank god for food stamps.......people come to listen and I go out to their car and siphon gas....

Not much money but good people and lots of fun...