Re-Tales

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Julie Mullins  |  Nov 18, 2021  |  14 comments
Finding fresh approaches to doing business isn't easy, especially in the current climate. But now it's becoming essential. Audio manufacturers, distributors, and dealers must figure out how to attract new customers while continuing to provide service for existing customers. Neither thing is easily accomplished in an era of change. But failure isn't an option. People with something to sell must connect with customers, and vice versa. Access is key.
Julie Mullins  |  Oct 28, 2021  |  5 comments
As I noted in previous Re-Tales columns, audio dealerships that stick to outmoded models after the world has changed may find themselves in danger of extinction. Such conflict between old and new has been with us since the beginning of time, or at least since the internet became ubiquitous. But the pandemic and its economic stresses and stimuli have accelerated the pace of change. So, how are dealers, um, dealing?
Julie Mullins  |  Sep 30, 2021  |  44 comments
Lately I've been hearing stories about people getting back into hi-fi, often from the people themselves. Some are buying new gear, but others have dug out and dusted off older equipment. Demand for electronics repair services was surging even before the pandemic. Once it struck, once and future audiophiles stuck at home plumbed their basements, attics, and storage units and pulled out old hi-fi components, hoping to resurrect them, only to find they weren't working, or not well.

Should they get 'em fixed?

Julie Mullins  |  Sep 01, 2021  |  2 comments
A few audio retailers have recently closed their doors due to pandemic-related hardship or retirement—Lyric Hi-Fi in NYC is a landmark case. So it's refreshing to hear about a longstanding bricks-and-mortar dealer- ship that has avoided that fate: House of Stereo in Jacksonville, Florida.
Julie Mullins  |  Jul 13, 2021  |  0 comments
Photo: John Atkinson

As the pandemic abates and reopening progresses, times are still uncertain. Industries worldwide continue to be obstructed. Parts and materials costs have risen sharply. Shipping rates, and shipping demand, have spiked. The recent Suez Canal blockage didn't help. All this has led to widespread supply-chain difficulties.

The audio business is not immune. Disruption and delays have troubled manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and customers for several months.

Julie Mullins  |  Jun 23, 2021  |  6 comments
Change, it seems, is a byword for audio dealerships that aim to stay afloat, and Hanson Audio Video has seen its share of changes. Events and unconventional outreach are now integral to the company's approach.
Julie Mullins  |  May 20, 2021  |  16 comments
To borrow Lyric Hi-Fi owner Leonard Bellezza's words from last month's Re-Tales, the traditional audiophile customer base "is graying."

That doesn't mean the future is bleak—not necessarily. Many in the industry have hope for hi-fi's future. For that potential future to be realized, however, audio dealers must adapt. Interest in better sound seems to be rising. Consider vinyl's resurgence; regardless of your views on vinyl's ultimate fidelity, it's a big step up from the earlier fashion for MP3s and cheap earbuds. (There's good news on that front, too: Those earbuds morphed into Beats headphones, then Beats into good-quality headphones.

Julie Mullins  |  Apr 13, 2021  |  19 comments
New York's Lyric Hi-Fi & Video is one of high-end audio's longest-standing and most legendary institutions. In a recent telephone conversation, Leonard Bellezza, Lyric's owner and president, confirmed what many in this industry have long heard rumored: Lyric is closing.
Julie Mullins  |  Mar 22, 2021  |  10 comments
"I'm going to be making as much of a commitment to the brick-and-mortar [dealers] as we can," says Bryston's James Tanner.

In Re-Tales and in Industry Update, I've written about some of the ways the pandemic has accelerated changes in the hi-fi business. Government-mandated safety measures, the absence of audio shows, and a marketplace that was already changing have combined to force companies to get creative about how they reach customers, both to sell products and to provide service.

A few established dealers have closed or are preparing to. Some can no longer afford inventory. Some have just retired. Others, though, report that 2020 was an extraordinarily good year.

Julie Mullins  |  Mar 04, 2021  |  7 comments
It's 2021, and the audio business marches ever onward. Accelerated by the pandemic, economic transformation continues apace; online sales are burgeoning across all industries. This includes hi-fi, which is under pressure to facilitate more online sales, and—maybe, for some—move away from the traditional dealer-based sales model.
Julie Mullins  |  Feb 02, 2021  |  35 comments
Why is there so much separation between the professional audio and audiophile worlds? Is that separation by design, or even necessity? Is it naïve to believe that more crossover could benefit both sides?
Julie Mullins  |  Jan 04, 2021  |  27 comments
Walter Swanbon has had a lot on his mind lately. Like many dealers, he's been busy adapting to changes, but the pandemic has also offered time for reflection.
Julie Mullins  |  Nov 25, 2020  |  7 comments
Several audio shows have been canceled or postponed since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in early 2020: Munich, AXPONA, RMAF, Montreal, and the 2021 Florida Audio Expo, among others. The next scheduled show is the Finest Audio Show, slated for January 9–10 in Zurich. The next one in the Americas is the inaugural Seattle Audio Fest, planned for July 30–August 1. AXPONA, America's biggest show, near Chicago, was recently postponed for the second time until late August. Depending on how the pandemic evolves, it's possible those shows will not be able to take place as planned, either.
Julie Mullins  |  Oct 19, 2020  |  1 comments
The sense of hope I've been feeling may have started with those Sinatra swells, the on-hold music I heard when I called to interview the first audio dealer I talked to for this story. I wanted to know what's been happening with their businesses during the pandemic. Are there reasons for at least cautious optimism?
Julie Mullins  |  Sep 24, 2020  |  16 comments
Access to musical information isn't guaranteed, whether it's limited by the resolution of a recording, your audio system, or an oppressive political regime. George Vatchnadze, concert pianist and dealer in high-end audio equipment, has experience with all three.

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