Brick and Mortar Stores

kach22i

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
1,508
172
225
Ann Arbor, Michigan
www.kachadoorian.com
#1
I drove my wife to the eye doctor today, we were very early so looking to burn up some time I asked if it was okay with her if I spent 10 minutes at Almas HiFi in Royal Oak, she said yes but stayed in the car.

Lone person running the store named Paul seemed surprised that I didn't know they gave up 3/4's of their store area.

He said sounds like you have not been in a HiFi shop in 10 years, the nature of the business has changed. They mostly do installations at people's homes - they go to the customer not the other way around.

Then we talked about Ann Arbor where there is still two good stores, and also went through the long list of competition long closed.

He said this generation is not much interested in anything beyond ear buds, but they are moving turntables.

Anyway, they have a beautiful Jadis tube amp for $3,500, Paul said the former importer in Ontario still services them.

They had a fair amount of used stuff and still rep Martin Logan, but the best reason to go in is to buy some records, both new and used (and talk shop).

Almas started in Dearborn, then had stores in West Bloomfield, Rochester Hills, Birmingham and of course Royal Oak (Michigan).

From five large well stocked stores run by three generations down to one location that is maybe a half store. They not sure if the 4th generation will carry on.

Feeling a little sad about it all. I bought most of my stuff from these guys, they were good guys.
 
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kach22i

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
1,508
172
225
Ann Arbor, Michigan
www.kachadoorian.com
#3
Those A2 stores aren’t that good.
They are good in context that they are still there, will give you service if you want it, and leave you alone if that's what you want.

If you are into panel speakers (like me) or a selection of tube gear other than used or AR, then again you may be disappointed.

I'm just happy they are still there serving metro-Detroit and SE Michigan.

For comparison, back in 2008 or 2009 I went into a HiFi shop in downtown Portland Oregon. I was ignored, not greeted, not asked if I needed help, just invisible. After checking out the store for 10-15 minutes I approached the guy behind the counter busy doing something and made eye contact for the first time because I had a question, just then someone walks in the door and I loose this guy's attention as he moves away to greet this person like a long lost friend.

I figure it's a regular customer, let them talk, and went looking at other stuff for another five minutes.

I've been in the store almost 20 minutes now, checked out everything twice and was impressed even though room acoustics were a joke, more of a display store than listening store.

I still had that one question.

So I waited for a pause in the conversation these two were having and interjected with "I have just one quick question".

The sales guy turns to me and says he's with another customer and adds "he came in first".

Now that my friends is a "not so good store".

The stereotype of a rude and snooty stereo salesperson is alive and well in Portland.

They apparently were doing so well at the start of the Great Recession that they could not be bothered with new customers. Good for them, I wonder if they are still around
 

Elliot G.

Industry Expert
#5
I wonder how much Audiogon and eBay killed the audio store.
I have said many times that the most significant change in audio over the last 25 years or so was Audiogon. I was a dealer for many years and in some ways I am still one and the website eliminated the way most dealers did business and a significant income stream of the trade in trade up market.
 

steve59

Active Member
Jan 7, 2018
217
33
35
#6
As to AG, The fees, paypal, shipping and insurance currently make ag very easy to compete with.I can often get products new locally than used if shipping is involved. The stores that held their margins (around here) are are the ones thar are gone while the shops that reward their customers by treating us like intelligent people that charge fair margins are still around.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
6,670
1,765
340
North Shore of Boston
#7
I wonder how much Audiogon and eBay killed the audio store.
Interesting question. I think Audiogon allows a seller to sell used equipment to a larger market for increased prices allowing him to upgrade to new equipment at an audio store. And the Audio store uses Audiogon to sell traded in gear. I think it’s a net plus but I’m not really sure.

This might be good for the customer but not necessarily good for the dealer. The dealer than struggles which of course is not good for the customer. Audiogon is certainly a disruptor just like Home Depot.
 
Jan 29, 2012
1,718
912
210
#8
Trade in's of used equipment was the principle method of "discounting" that B&M retailers practiced. Audiogon removed this option from most retailers. This method is what's earned Mark at Reno Highfi most of his repeat customers.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
6,670
1,765
340
North Shore of Boston
#9
Can’t retailers still take used equipment in on trade and then sell it on audiogon or to others who want a local product that they can take home and audition?

I don’t think Audiogon killed the audio stores but I guess store owners would know better than I.
 
Jan 16, 2013
1,190
1,207
400
NYC
#10
In the last few weeks, I sold a pair of Goldmund Telos 1000Next Gen, a pair of DMA 400s, a pair of Goldmund Satya speakers and a Goldmund BR Ref player on AG. These pieces were all trade ins.

I take trades on probably 75% of new item sales.

I advertise all of my trade in gear on Audiogon, it takes forever to sell most items, but they eventually sell.
 

Alrainbow

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2013
1,517
352
155
NYC , USA
#11
I have said many times that the most significant change in audio over the last 25 years or so was Audiogon. I was a dealer for many years and in some ways I am still one and the website eliminated the way most dealers did business and a significant income stream of the trade in trade up market.
I would ‘nt say it was all Audiogon , many hifi stores ( most not all ) service was a joke , walking in always felt negative, very unfriendly service , no music playing , dead , then to hear anything is a nightmare , this cant play now , thats not hooked up , you need an appointment yady yada ..!

Ebay and Agon is hey that looks good no snarky crap , you buy , try out sell back if you want , a PITA but less of a PITA and no condescension like dealing with an hi end audio stores ..

My 2c
 
#12
I would ‘nt say it was all Audiogon , many hifi stores ( most not all ) service was a joke , walking in always felt negative, very unfriendly service , no music playing , dead , then to hear anything is a nightmare , this cant play now , thats not hooked up , you need an appointment yady yada ..!

Ebay and Agon is hey that looks good no snarky crap , you buy , try out sell back if you want , a PITA but less of a PITA and no condescension like dealing with an hi end audio stores ..

My 2c
I didn't say that but Audiogon changed dramatically the way business was done. Of course there are always horror stories about dealers but having been one for most of my adult life I believe this was highly overblown. I worked in one of the most successful and busiest stores on the planet for a long time and we did lots of business and had lots of happy and well taken care of clients. Did we piss people off? of course we did. You can't make everyone happy and there are a lot of visitors who just wasted tons of our time. Audio was never a library, never a non profit and never where everything the client wanted was free. I do agree there was a some bad shit that happened but having been on the floor for decades the guilt lies on both sides. I sold millions of dollars of gear every year and many happy clients and I also asked numerous people to leave and go elsewhere back then as well. Its just business , you cant make everyone happy.
It sounds like your experience was bad in the place or places you went. I don't know why but you had the choice to go elsewhere. Audiogon took customers out of stores, removed the service aspect, removed secondary income streams, change the pricing structure and IMHO also created a very adversarial situation for many dealers and clients. I still see it today with people wanting the full as if I was buying it new when they buy on Audiogon used.
 
Feb 1, 2011
239
82
110
Lower Provo River
#13
The direction specialty audio dealers chose in the 90's created the vacuum that was filled by Audiogon. It was the dealer who chased customers out of their stores, not Audiogon. Remember those listening rooms being converted into theaters. Instead of greeting you to discuss two channel audio, sales guys were busy creating proposals and booking trucks. They had no time to talk. Priorities had shifted, driven by a business model that embraced home theater and 2nd mortgages/Re-fi's at the expense of the two channel guy. But if you wanted to buy that dream pre-amp for which your local store was still a dealer, it was no longer on demo. Instead of listening to it, the dealer would be happy to order it for you - at retail with no refunds and no exchanges. Customers just want to be treated fairly. For the two channel guy who once had a place to go to find out about the latest gear, to enjoy being a repeat buyer, to trade his gear to upgrade, to feel special about his hobby, there was nothing fair about this. Dealers took away the things he valued. All that was left was a box. Of course, he wanted to pay less. Certainly this was not all dealers, but it was enough of them to cause the sea change that was Audiogon.

As a dealer, you can lament Audiogon or you can leverage it. Those that leverage it take advantage of the largest high end sales platform in the world.

Wilson Audio encourages our dealers to use some of their Wilson Brand Awareness funds to pay for a dealer Audiogon page. Our Trade-In and Certified AuthenticTM programs could be nowhere near as successful as they are without Audiogon.

As always, ymmv.
 
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Jan 7, 2018
217
33
35
#14
If you look at the prices asked on AG it looks like the site is helping prop up used prices, in fact often dealers are offering more fair and reasonable prices on used gear that the original owners are.
 
#15
The direction specialty audio dealers chose in the 90's created the vacuum that was filled by Audiogon. It was the dealer who chased customers out of their stores, not Audiogon. Remember those listening rooms being converted into theaters. Instead of greeting you to discuss two channel audio, sales guys were busy creating proposals and booking trucks. They had no time to talk. Priorities had shifted, driven by a business model that embraced home theater and 2nd mortgages/Re-fi's at the expense of the two channel guy. But if you wanted to buy that dream pre-amp for which your local store was still a dealer, it was no longer on demo. Instead of listening to it, the dealer would be happy to order it for you - at retail with no refunds and no exchanges. Customers just want to be treated fairly. For the two channel guy who once had a place to go to find out about the latest gear, to enjoy being a repeat buyer, to trade his gear to upgrade, to feel special about his hobby, there was nothing fair about this. Dealers took away the things he valued. All that was left was a box. Of course, he wanted to pay less. Certainly this was not all dealers, but it was enough of them to cause the sea change that was Audiogon.

As a dealer, you can lament Audiogon or you can leverage it. Those that leverage it take advantage of the largest high end sales platform in the world.

Wilson Audio encourages our dealers to use some of their Wilson Brand Awareness funds to pay for a dealer Audiogon page. Our Trade-In and Certified AuthenticTM programs could be nowhere near as successful as they are without Audiogon.

As always, ymmv.
Well Yeah but that is just a huge overstatement. When Audiogon came we also had the perfect storm of the invention of "custom dealers" which I was told a million times would not effect your business. This of course was Bullshit and just a way for many manufacturers and distributors to money grab. By taking clients out of the dealer showrooms they never had the opportunity to experience better sound whether in 2 channel or in home theater. I have a lot of experience here as I had a big store at this time that did both. It was custom stealing my sales to bids on paper that took away new clients and to over distributed products that hurt the bottom line. Most manufacturers made these mistakes and opened way to many store fronts and your company was not innocent of this either. My view. Stay safe there Bill.
No one was innocent and the dealers were USED period!
 
#16
Trade in's of used equipment was the principle method of "discounting" that B&M retailers practiced. Audiogon removed this option from most retailers. This method is what's earned Mark at Reno Highfi most of his repeat customers.
and more importantly a shot at the next sale and the time for the client to experience new stuff in his shop.
 
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Alrainbow

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2013
1,517
352
155
NYC , USA
#17
I didn't say that but Audiogon changed dramatically the way business was done. Of course there are always horror stories about dealers but having been one for most of my adult life I believe this was highly overblown. I worked in one of the most successful and busiest stores on the planet for a long time and we did lots of business and had lots of happy and well taken care of clients. Did we piss people off? of course we did. You can't make everyone happy and there are a lot of visitors who just wasted tons of our time. Audio was never a library, never a non profit and never where everything the client wanted was free. I do agree there was a some bad shit that happened but having been on the floor for decades the guilt lies on both sides. I sold millions of dollars of gear every year and many happy clients and I also asked numerous people to leave and go elsewhere back then as well. Its just business , you cant make everyone happy.
It sounds like your experience was bad in the place or places you went. I don't know why but you had the choice to go elsewhere. Audiogon took customers out of stores, removed the service aspect, removed secondary income streams, change the pricing structure and IMHO also created a very adversarial situation for many dealers and clients. I still see it today with people wanting the full as if I was buying it new when they buy on Audiogon used.
Elliot ,


Im sure based on your comments you weren't that type of dealer, but believe me it was not uncommon to experience what i said . Audiogon only worked because most were put off by bad dealer arrogance, if not for , most would prefer to deal with their dealer instead of selling on audiogon ..
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
6,670
1,765
340
North Shore of Boston
#18
Audiogon serves a need that went unmet. Some benefit, others do not. It certainly disrupted the status quo. Audio is not the only industry affected by on line sales to a non local customer base.
 
Last edited:
Feb 1, 2011
239
82
110
Lower Provo River
#19
Well Yeah but that is just a huge overstatement. When Audiogon came we also had the perfect storm of the invention of "custom dealers" which I was told a million times would not effect your business. This of course was Bullshit and just a way for many manufacturers and distributors to money grab. By taking clients out of the dealer showrooms they never had the opportunity to experience better sound whether in 2 channel or in home theater. I have a lot of experience here as I had a big store at this time that did both. It was custom stealing my sales to bids on paper that took away new clients and to over distributed products that hurt the bottom line. Most manufacturers made these mistakes and opened way to many store fronts and your company was not innocent of this either. My view. Stay safe there Bill.
No one was innocent and the dealers were USED period!
PARA was founded in 1979 to help members become better businesses. To that point, many high end store owners were music/hifi loving hobbyists who depended on their accountants to read their company P&L's and Balance Sheet. Over the next decade, dealers became much more business savvy. Many learned how to read and analyze numbers at a very high level. It was a business decision to move away into more efficient arenas other than two channel, notably theater and custom installation. Perhaps they asked the wrong corporate identity questions but there was no denying the numbers that new categories delivered. Those dealers often left behind their foundational clients while adding many others that had never entered their original stores.

Custom Dealers well predate Audiogon. I can think of a longstanding dominant US specialty dealer that had a dedicated custom department in 1986, though to their credit they never abandoned two channel and remain a stellar dealer to this day. Cedia was founded in 1989 leading the way to the education and legitimization of what heretofore had been derisively called "trunk slammers."

For dealers embracing theater/custom, efficiency was absolutely necessary. After all, it wouldn't be long before they would be contractors competing with other contractors. Specialty Dealers often referred to their former two channel clients as "Time Wasters" and "Bottom Feeders." Hell Dolby Digital replaced Dolby No Logic in 1991. No Internet and no Audiogon in those days yet many dealers had already moved into other channels.

Audiogon was founded Sept 1, 1998.

You and I saw all this from very different places. We'll just have to agree to disagree.

But more than anything, please stay safe in these crazy times my old friend.
 
Aug 28, 2018
66
18
85
Seattle, WA
#20
Audiogon delivers more options, on more gear than anyone I am aware of.

You can find several versions on what your looking for in one place.

I refuse to deal with our local dealer after bad experiences in all 3 of their stores.
 
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