Reading the letter posted by Tom Craggs of Blue Oasis Audio, chiding Sam Tellig for turning the readers onto headphones and their availability on the Internet, made me grind my teeth. When are audio dealers going to understand the concept of competition? When are they going to understand the concept of price competition? You can't hide your head in the sand pretending the Internet and Internet based bargains don't exist and then blame writers for pointing out that there is an Internet and dealers selling the same products there. Stop going around bitching and moaning as to how you're being ripped off by others selling the same stuff cheaper on the Internet or how Audiogon is putting a dent in your sales. Sure, nobody wants to compete. Competing is hard. It's a lot easier to be snide to people walking into your store if they just want to shop around or don't have 100k to spend on their system, but those days are coming to an end. Deal with it. You want to charge a full retail price? Offer in house installation for free. Else, discount the hardware and charge for the installation. Seems like brick and mortar dealers want to have the best of both worlds: They want to charge MSRP for hardware AND for service.
I have another piece of news for Mr. Craggs: Not every person walking into your store and inquiring about a piece of gear is going to make a purchase. That's the nature of ANY retail business. Stop bitching about it. You can't have money for nothing. You have to work for it a little bit. The person making an inquiry and not making a purchase is not wasting your time. He is still a potential customer even if he chooses to buy this particular item some place else.
If you want to stay in business:
a) Start competing on price
b) Stop demonizing the people coming through your doors who happen not to make a purchase that day
c) Stop blaming everyone else if business isn't going the way you think it should.
d) Stop whining! Reinvent and keep reinventing your business model to stay on top of the game. Try offering value to your customers instead of being a middle man.
Oh, and one more thing, I don't believe that the Internet store would only make a $4 profit off a $100 headphones. I bet you they're getting their headphones for less than the $99.99 wholesale you quoted.