One big reason why brick and mortar high end audio dealers struggle.

I live in a major metropolitan area with several close by high end stores.  I never go in any of them.  A dealer just opened a new location 5 minutes from my house.  Major dealer with Magico, Constellation, McIntosh and many other serious brands.  I went by a couple weeks ago mid day on a Friday.  Door locked, nobody there.  I call today to make sure they are actually open for business.  Guy answers the phone and says that they were out on an install when I can by and that they are short staffed.  No problem, I understand.  But from that point on the guy takes a subtle but clearly defensive and pissy tone.  He states that they recommend setting up an appointment for customers to view their products.  Sure, and I recommend never going there.  Off my list.  Back to buying online.  Here's the issue.  So many of these high end dealers are only after the wealthy guy that comes in, spends less than an hour there and orders a complete home theater or 2 channel system and writes a check for $50k or more on the spot.  That's there customer base.  I get that it can be annoying to allow a bunch of lookers to come in and waste their time and not buy anything, but isn't it good for business to have more customer traffic?  If someone comes in, spends an hour there, listens to some amazing gear and then buys nothing, doesn't he tell his friends and family and coworkers about his great experience?  Isn't this word of mouth valuable?  These brick and mortar dealers almost universally are unwelcoming and unfriendly to people that want to come in and just look and listen and not buy.  Sorry, but the vast majority of potential customers are not going to spend 20 minutes by private appointment to order their new $100k system.  Why not encourage people to come and spend time with zero pressure to purchase.  I have purchased dozens of high end speakers and electronics over the many years I have enjoyed this hobby.  I might well buy from a dealer if they were actually nice, friendly, and encouraged hanging out and getting to know their gear.  But they don't.  I would never go to a high end store that required an appointment.  Because this creates a huge pressure situation for you to purchase that day.  I'm not ready to purchase on my first visit.  And neither are thousands of other potential customers.  If they can make a good living just catering to the wealthy one time buyers, then, ok, good for them.  Doesn't seem like they can though since so many have gone under.  Maybe it's time to try a different approach?  Step one, no commission sales people.  Step two, welcome people to listen and not buy anything.  Encourage it.  This will create positive word of mouth and significantly increase customer traffic and ultimately create more paying customers it would seem.  I don't get it.  Rant over. Please don't respond that you have an amazing dealer.  I'm sure they exist but they are the exception.  What I am describing is the typical customer experience.

So let me get this straight.

You want the dealer to take time away from the customer who actually bought from him/them and he's now installing the equipment the customer purchased to come to the store so you can kick tires?

You're a special kind of stupid.  

I will pass on my experience in the Bay area last week.

Music Lovers is open 6 days a week. A friend works

there 6 days a week. They have a Berkeley and a Downtown

SF store. I visited both and listened without appt in both.

I called two other stores that people spoke about as being 

good. One is by appointment only. The other is open but if

you care to audition anything the cost is $250 up front creditable

to a purchase. 

I did not bother visiting either of those stores. Although I do not feel

they meet the standard of being a true retail store. 

Minneapolis has at least three great stores I visited in Sept.

Seattle has Hawthorne and Definitive. Now Hawthorne is by appointment.

Sign of the times I suppose.

Appreciate and thank the few good ones left to us!


This topic has really struck a nerve..

At a high end store in The Bay Area I was looking for some expensive loudspeakers. The salesman had a silent partner who pretended to also be a customer..

I left..

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