Local dealer cuts store in half says audio is dead

My local dealer that has been in business since 1979 has given half his store up for a marial arts studio. He told me that 2 channel audio is dead and people just come in to audition gear and buy off the Internet. He says custom installation is the only thing keeping the doors open and that has slowed down alot lately. Through the years I always tried to give this dealer business but things never worked out. The owner was very arrogant and everything had to go his way. I tried to buy my first system there 15 years ago and he would not budge on price. So I took my business somewhere else and they were happy to have my money. A couple of years ago I was looking at some new speakers so I went up the street knowing that they carried the brand. I asked the owner if I could audition them at my house for a day. He said absolutely not. He told me to bring all my equipment to the store and listen there. It's alot easier for me to take the speakers home than to take my TT, 100lb amp and tube pre-amp to the store. BTW-He had a demo pair on the floor so he could of given those to me for the night. I even told him I would give him my CC# to keep on file. Still he said no.

Well it doesn't surprise me that this dealer is giving up on audio. He never tried to offer the service that is necessary to be a 2 channel dealer. I told him that there are still a few 2 channel stores that are still surviving in these economic times. He told me he didn't believe that and that I knew nothing about the business. With that I left never to return. I hope next time I drive by he will be out of business period. He doesn't deserve to survive with his bad attitude.
You've said all that needs to be said. Let him go under. The customers he did have will go elsewhere and help other more deserving stores to stay in business.
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Wow, I never would hope for failure and perhaps he never had enough of a relationship with you to extend service you expect......maybe you just rub eachother the wrong way or something else is not being told here but it doesnt sound like it matters anyway but wishing failure is bad karma IMO.
Not assumeing anything here, just thinking outloud and perhaps he is so beat down and jaded by the INternet and bad Hi-Fi economics.....but still, wishing failure??????
A good audio dealer is a very wise investment. I have always loved the Verity Parsifal speakers. My local audio dealer had a customer who bought a pair new a few years ago and decided to go home theater or something and wanted to change. The dealer brought the Parsifal's to my home, set them up and let me try them out. They stayed. They let me demo new speaker wires, Nordost Heimdals, I ordered the Freys. I have demo'd three different CDP's from them and bought two, my current a $6000 player. My recent search for a new amp was supported by my dealer with demo amps delivered to my home, even when he knew my purchase was a not going to be for awhile. Another dealer in town has also been very helpful. They are getting in a new amp and pre-amp, MSRP $20,000+ and once they break them in in the show room they will bring them to my house to demo to help me narrow down future budgets. Though I could buy used off the net, and I sometimes do, I would never seek out their advise and aid then go somewhere else for the items they helped me with. Do I pay more? Yep, in the short run but in the long run it is a lot cheaper as I am able to build a nice synergistic system without multiple changes. There is a third dealer in my area that has nice stuff but the only thing I get from them is that my stuff is crap and their stuff can "walk all over" this and that and that their stuff is "better in every single way" than whatever it is that it is being compared to. Support good dealers. They will save you money in the long run and make music a bit more enjoyable. That being said, I think that there a lot of dealers that really have earned the right to go out of business. I am pretty lucky and hope to keep my two local dealers busy and could recommend them very highly.
I have started a thread with a complaint about a local dealer, and it took off like wild fire. A lot of people are frustrated with some stores. I don't think it's wishing failure. Audio dealing is not like other businesses. You cater to a community more than a market share, and I would hope someone who goes into this business does so with a passion for sound and music along with business and technical knowledge. When that lacks, things are not going to work out. If your experience was typical of the store, then it's more surprising that they have been in business for 30 years than that they are closing...
Tale of two dealers:

Dealer #1 says you have to buy it to audition it in home. If it doesn't work out you can return it.

Dealer #2 took my CC information and gave me 72 hours for demo.

Guess where I spent my $1500.
Audio dead, I don't think so. Yes, it is very difficult for a dealer in high end audio to have a business if they are not doing home theater, which helps carry the two channel line. The 'loaner' model is essential to make two channel work profitably. A few dealers I have talked to over the years indicated that getting into the customer's home, that is deliver the first loaner, really helps in that you get much more information about the prospect. After that, the prospect gets to pick up the item.
Honestly, I am not sure how one can survive these days in a brick and mortar dealership today. I think it's a fool's game.

The dealer simply has too many things going against him:
1) Simple business. Obviously, it takes a pretty good inflow of capital to support keeping the doors open, the lights on, and everyone paid.

2) The economy. Not much explanation needed along those lines today. Simply, for better or worse, customers have closed their wallets to a certain extent.

3) The competition. In the old days, you basically bought components from the dealers that were local to you. While not unheard of, it was rare for a guy in Maryland to purchase component ABC from a dealer in Oregon. There was a lot less selection then available to the consumer, and the competition was mostly consisted of the other dealers within a one hour drive, who normally were selling different brands. Customers more often than not either bought from the place that sold the component that offered the best combination of sound/cost to suit them or from the dealer they liked best.

For us customers, competition has proved a good thing, we have access to a lot more product, and we can get dealers working against each other in order to obtain that component at the best possible price. However, this has truly decimated the high-end audio dealer network over the past decade.

The prevailing thought today is to focus one's efforts on the more expensive components, as I've heard "If it takes me X hours to sell a component, I want to spend my time selling to the customer who is going to make me $1500 on the sale as opposed to $150." It sounds logical, and I am sure there is some wisdom in that, but I question how smart it is to basically abandon the lower ground to the likes of the internet box movers, many of which are the backbone of this site's retailers.

Facing facts, all but the more loyal or less internet savvy customers are going to find and then subsequently buy that $800 from the low/no overhead internet seller working out of his house that has no problem in selling it for $650 against the brick and mortar dealer who either can't or won't let it go for less than $725 or $750.

4) Personal interaction. Some customers will mesh well with you, and you can do business together. Others, as has been described in this thread will simply not be a good fit, and the two sides enter into either a war of wills or can't get going at all. In either instance, the chances of a customer handing over a nice sale to a business are pretty slim.

There are a fraction of the audio dealers today that existed when I first got into this hobby. I'm afraid 10 or 15 years down the line I'm going to be saying that there are a lot less dealers around than there were back in the mid 2000s.
I don't usually stand up for dealers especially if they are a bit crusty. With that being said, while visiting an audio store in a neighboring city a pair of speakers were being returned which had been out for a home demo. The metal bass drivers in both cabinets were utterly destroyed. Whoever did this was either an idiot or it was purposely done. I've never been able to ask for a home demo since.
Somethings wrong with the audio dealers in my area.
I don't wear a Rolex or have brand name clothing so they ignore me.

Mcintosh has a huge shop with a ton of gear, several listening rooms(closed doors) but I have never heard music being played. Sometimes a radio with static.
The sales staff just sits there.
O yea, never seen a customer in there either.

The Accuphase Dealer seems to be bothered by customers.
I was buying a new amp and he would not budge on the price, not a penny.
I took a friend there who was also going to by an amp too. Still, not a discount, not a penny.

I bought a Sugden Masterclass from a dealer and the next time I was in his shop, he was trying to get me to trade up....

If you live in Bangkok, I suggest a quik flight to Singapore for better prices/service too.
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Seems like some people want first class bend over backwards type service, but want the shop to act like they are running a garage sale.Back over in Europe,
possibly the best hi-fi dealer in the UK is 'Graham's hi-fi' in London who are members of BADA (British Audio Dealers Association) a select group of shops. Grahams has a long list of come back many times 'clientèle' to buy and be guided by the fantastic staff into making the right choices without wasting money, and those that want to haggle like at a Turkish market should shop elsewhere.
Perhaps British buyers do not expect the moon whilst buying a bag of chips.
I do not begrudge the dealers not discounting and for a fellow audiophile to want a dealer to shut down because he would not get his own way, to me is very sad ( I am being polite).
Happy listening.
Sorry to hear all of the horror stories with local dealers. I live in Dallas and am fortunate to have Dallas Audio Concepts. EVERY purchase that I have made there over the past 10 years has been preceeded by a home audition for two to three days or more. I wanted to try a vinyl set-up, so the OWNER delivered a Linn, ARC PH5, cables, rack, to try for a week. I loved it but because my listening room is on the second floor I learned that "foot falls" were a real problem and I decided not to buy. No problem. Last week I called him and said that I wanted to try the ARC DAC 7 for a few days and stream digital audio from an iMac over my wireless network to an Airport Express to the DAC7. I picked up the DAC7 from the store myself and kept it for a few days; no credit cards. I've decided that the "fun factor" of feeding Apple lossless to the DAC7 is a 10+ but the sound is not equal to my ARC REF CD7 so I'm not going to buy. Again, no problem. I buy the odd interconnect or power cable on A'gon but all components have been purchased at Audio Concepts and will continue to be. If we want the kind of service that I described it means we are probably going to pay list. One other story; I recently sent my REF CD7 back to ARC for an upgrade. I dropped it at Audio Concepts and they took care of it for me and delivered it back to the house in two weeks. I actually think I save money by NOT grinding through purchases of gear that does not work for me or meet my needs. I tend to keep what I purchase for several years before upgrading.
Some of the issues are that most working class people do view high end audio as fairly expensive. Most people do make sacrifices to build their system. If you have been doing your homework you know that there is a rapid law of diminishing returns once you reach a certain price point. Beyond that you begin to build an audio jewelry museum. Dealers should be able to negotiate more with the manufacturers and then with the customers to make a sale, especially in this economy. I have a good dealer and he has been very kind. All of the opportunities I have I do purchase from them however there are some pieces I would not get. I have purchased two CD players from him in the past at retail, both were close to 2K each. One went bad after a couple of years and was not repairable because the manufacturer went bust(CAL audio) and the other one the transport died and am still trying to get it fixed. I have had a sony, cheap CD player that has not died on me for over 10 years. So essentially I am out 4K, so sorry!
Another case in point are speakers. They only carry a couple of lines and the next step up for me would be around list price 10K. At that price either they would have to lower the price to match a recently used speaker or I would go find something else. I am not married to one brand and would not necessarily go out and purchase a used speaker that I auditioned at his store, however if the opportunity did arise I would try to negotiate a better price with them and if they do not want to deal I would purchase them elsewhere. The price of audio equipment really should not be continuing to escalate at the current rate.
A new paradigm needs to developed or their market will become more and more of a niche. Just look at the exotic car market's
Usually, I would be with the customer, but I don't know any dealer that will let you in-home audition speakers. It's a logistical nightmare.
Yeah, everything is about dead in todays economy, but it sounds like you were looking to be treated like a lady. Get a spine.
This is not a new development.

Tvad hits the nail on the head regarding geeked out enthusiasts who somehow think their audio experience qualifies them to condescend to their customers while still somehow succeeding in business.

Horrible "businesspeople" (using the word loosely) have wreaked far more havoc on the 2 channel industry than home theatre and/or global economic depressions combined.
I expect that if we are speaking of a 'decline' in the bricks & mortar audio industry (and while I see anecdotal evidence of such, I have never seen industry-wide annual sales numbers shown), it has far more to do with the change in what the customer wants and the way the customer wants to do business than any shift towards worse service on the part of the dealer.

Now, customers can do a great deal of research before they set foot in the store. It used to be that the only way to get the compare the specs, sound qualities, and hear anecdotal evidence was to go talk to the dealer (or other members of your audio club). The internet has made everyone so inclined into 'experts' and has reduced the amount of naked trust extended by potential customers to the dealer. The dealer himself has not lost the expertise he used to have, but for many customers, the ritual of going to the store, asking what's new, learning about the new piece, whether people who have listened have upgraded, about what else might be coming up, and walking out with a brochure and a good feeling because one had learned something new - that ritual is meaningless now. Some dealers may be bitter about this and they hold on to the old model and we think they are stuffy or arrogant. Other dealers have adapted to the change in customer - some by offering stuff so esoteric that it is only available through dealers for the first several years. I can think of at least one dealer who has frequented the Audiogon forums over the years (now less than before) who has made his living this way. If you want the latest and the greatest, you can go to him, or 2-3 others, but they effectively control the market so it will only matter who has the customer first. Some dealers have been successful by offering the service Rsorren1 speaks about above to the clients who still prize that (albeit, it helps to be in a location which supports that model). And others have built a customer service around the home theater installation business.

Personally, I find it interesting that noone puts the blame on the advent of the walkman. When I was a kid, before walkmans, every kid wanted their own stereo. After the advent of walkmans, every kid wanted a walkman and huge numbers of my friends who had showed interest in stereos when they were 12 couldn't be bothered when they were 16. They could play a walkman as loud as they wanted and their mother wouldn't yell at them, it was easy to use (no tweaking), it was cool (new models showed up all the time), and lots of people who were getting their first stereo were interested in music playback more than they were interested in really great sound so something simple like a walkman clicked all the buttons. The way I saw it, the walkman changed the way the masses thought about music. The young people who were willing to stick a walkman on their head for hours a day got their music loud and intimate, and the ritual of playing music in the basement or in one's room (after cleaning a path across the floor) was changed. When discs came out, we got the diskman, but lots of people I know just switched from recording LPs to cassettes on their parents' stereos to recording their friends' CDs onto cassettes. How many kids do you know who have component stereo systems vs how many have iPods or similar MP3 players? How many of those kids even aspire to having a stereo set-up?
Whoa, tvad...what does introversion have to do with 'intractability'? What does it have to do with success or lack thereof in selling, or dealing with customers? I have administered the meyer briggs temperament sorter to hundreds of sales people, and the incidence of introversion has nothing to do with, sales success predictability. Now, we're not talking about pathological shyness, or a dibilitating inability to deal with people, just introversion, right?
There are so many myths and misunderstandings about intro versus extroversion, and to apply intractability as a trait to someone because of this one personality characteristic, is simply wrong.
The dealer in question was, in my view, and this is based solely on the comments of the customer who 'didn't buy from him', and it's his version, to be sure; this dealer was certainly not very good at creating a long term relationship with a customer and this is certainly a failing to be sure. It would be interesting to hear the dealer's version of this.
Also, how do we decide emperically that many hobbiests are introverts, then become dealers? By a very large percentage, most people are extroverts, so the chances of this being the case are very slim.

I think we should not be so quick to apply cavalier lables based on incorrect assumptions.
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Dealers are all or mostly introverts...
Proof, or supporting information, none.

Dealers, because they are introverts, are intractable...
Proof, none, and no supporting thoughts.

Both of these statements one supposedly supporting the other, are without any foundation. Making one proclaimation, without any supporting information, then declaring that this makes them the other, rings of silliness.

Are a great deal of dealers who are introverts, POSSIBLY. Does being an introvert, necessarily make anyone intractable? Where'd that come from?

The dealer in question, if this post was correct, didn't do anyone any favors in not being willing to proplerly demo his wares.
Also, I disagree with bar81, stating something to the effect, that "I don't know any dealer who allows in home demos of loudspeakers."
That is not accurate, and moreover, I made a living doing exactly that, for more than a dozen years. Not only could customers demo in home...I delivered the speakers!

Finally, Tvad, by your measure of introverts, you'd make the blanket statement, if I read this correctly the A'goners on this site are overwhelmingly introverts. That is one of the most misunderstood personality traits.
In the MB Personality Sorter, they claim that a woman was trying to 'fix up' her daughter with a potential gentleman caller. She stated, "She's an introvert, BUT a really nice girl," as if introversion implied some larger darker thing.
In general terms it only means that introverts, "Internalize, rather than externalize thoughts." Vague and arguable, to some who haven't read it in context, but accurate within context.
Intractable? Don't think so, at least not by necessity.
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My impression is that the time of great boutique high end audio dealers in most cities has passed. The boutique type model has disappeared in may parts of the country. Stores close, focus frequently moved to home theater, service levels (home auditioning, hours, lines offered) dimininished. I always supported one store, because of their service - this included a great staff of experts, a welcoming approach, and a fantastic audition policy. I paid a premium to buy there, although I could have bargained. They eventually went HT, sold to a midfi chain, dropped some of their premier brands as well as vinyl.

I didn't buy another high end component for five years after they changed. The reason is that the boutique model, with expertise, great lines, and great audition policies, is what I need to buy high end.

The dealers and the manufacturers have a symbiotic relationship, or they did till HT came along.

Now, if I'm looking to upgrade an amp or speakers, chances are I'll be flying to one of the few great boutique dealers, unless the small local place happens to have exactly what I want. Which would be great, but may not happen.
...please...dont upset TVAD. For some reason (possibly his poiniant character)...I likes him :)~
Is audio actually dead or is the old marketing model just dead?
I have not had a local dealer for 30 years. I used to visit dealers in Chicago, LA, and DC in the past, but find they are all in the suburbs and have only a one or two products that interest me. I only once when out to visit one, found no satisfaction, and have never tried doing this again.

Your dealer's attitude is poor, but I think he is right that the internet has killed local audio dealers. There are few local dealers for anything today, with the exception of appliances, but not tvs, food, and cars. Welcome to a side effect of the internet.
Excellent question, Rja!

I believe the old marketing model is dead. I might also say the "new" marketing model of the past decade (the internet box movers) looks to be seriously leaking oil.

Where does that leave us? I think it points to direct sales from manufacturers, cutting all of the middlemen out of the equation, and hardwiring the customer and manufacturer. Beyond the fact that the manufacturer should theoretically (presuming they possess the requisite customer service skills) be the best entity to provide the customer with whatever before the sale information is required, perhaps there is a bit of a silver lining in that if my thinking is correct, the North American manufacturers may have finally gotten the upper hand over the Chinese, as the price disadvantage no longer seems to exist. Of course, there might be a bit more to it ala folks consciously choosing to stay away from the aforementioned imports for myriad reasons, but I'll leave it at that.
Even though the corpse is rotting, many of us insist on prodding it and wondering if it is dead.
Thank God for Audiogon. At least here, you can "Let your fingers do the walking". Living where there are NO dealerships and outrageous shipping expenses, this website and its brotherhood is an oasis. THAT'S keeping 2 ch audio alive for me.
Thank God for Audiogon. At least here, you can "Let your fingers do the walking". Living where there are NO dealerships and outrageous shipping expenses, this website and its brotherhood is an oasis. THAT'S keeping 2 ch audio alive for me.
Vonhakemarine (Threads | Answers)

Agree with above comment -- Audiogon provides life support for those who still remember when the audio industry had a soul and stores could make a living.

And truth be told, all of us have everything we need to live out our lives with good music and reliable equipment.

Greed and deception have collapsed many markets including this one.
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Many very good dealers are doing better than ever and companies such as Krell are having wonderful sales.This guy sounds like a turkey so let him fly!!
11 years since the original post. 
I recently got headphones and started hanging out in HP forums. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a lot of the folks there were half my age. They were just as particular about getting good sound as in this forum but they have much less sonic issues to deal with. These folks could be the future 2 channel or mulit-channel enthusiasts once they are more established career wise.

I have been buying gear now for the last 3 months and the experience with dealers have been fantastic. Some components were bought online without auditions and anything I audition, like speakers will be bought locally.
Sorry to say, but i am surprised he didn't go under a long time ago.

Anybody can open an electronics store. But to compete and do well, you NEED that extra that comes with customer service.
IMCE all brick-and-mortar RETAIL IS DEAD! It’s just a matter of time now that the virus has taught us all to shop online and get delivery. Can you really imagine that you’ll magically stop buying everything at Amazon or gear at Audiogon?

So when a guy like this gets a case of "burn out" (common in all sales environments) the last thing he wants to see is another customer--especially the really valuable one who has qualified himself down to taking them home. "I’ll have to take them off display, box them up, load them up; reverse it all when they come back." Especially if this buyer is always some other salesman’s customer. "Now I might not get paid for any of it!"
Or a guy comes in who professes to need considerable education on something you knows little about:  "You’re not going to make me WORK are you?! I just had to give up half my store because you people don’t come in because I’ve become a jerk because you don’t come in."
All salesmen are really good at writing up invoices for "lay downs." Believe me, I’ve been there and had staff that went there and can assure anyone who hasn’t had the experience that it’s a flavor of depression that can become career-ending--especially if you’re the owner or sole proprietor of a failing business. Good management needed!
This is nature’s way of cleaning things up. This guy will either go out of business or go psycho. He should fire himself!
I hate shopping online.... hate it, avoid it when I can.  While it's true retail is dying there are still audio dealers that go above and beyond.  Audio Visual Therapy in Nashua NH is that type of dealer.  I was there last week and although right now with the virus they are appointment only, people were there shopping for audio.  
I know many dealers that are doing great business your dealers is a big turkey let him fly away.
This comment applies to the pre and post pandemic world. My beef with audio dealers regards their lack of musical promotion of any kind. Too hard to organize a showroom concert or that rare demo? There are a couple of relatively well known audio "salons" near me and neither have mailing lists to announce interesting new things, much knowledge of or interest in local music events, and no willingness to change. A nearby famous guitar store emails about shows featuring great guitar players that pack the place. Brick and mortar audio dealers seem not to care about developing more business which leads to no business.
Buying/trying speakers from internet dealers often comes with a return price than can be hefty... especially for floorstanders. 

Should brick ink and mortar stores have a “ try it for 2 day” price that can be applied to the purchase?

And, like a rental car, should pre “try it” photos be taken with joint sign off?