Would you purchase audio products from someone working out of their home?

Retail has changed a lot over the years, and many high-end audio lines are now represented by dealers working out of their homes. Does this work for you?

Would you purchase audio products from someone working out of their home?
43% (70 votes)
It depends
33% (54 votes)
Not sure
3% (5 votes)
Not likely
15% (24 votes)
Absolutely not
7% (11 votes)
Total votes: 164

Mahoney's picture

Unless I received a substantial discount, buying expensive audio components from a guy who operates out of his mildewy basement is not very enticing.

toni marshall's picture

Why should it matter—as long as they are certified by the manufacturer.

Steve's picture

I've done it once. Dealer would need to have established a good track record, which mine has.

Walter Williams's picture

Most of my system has been assembled in this manner.

Colin's picture

I was actually thinking about opening a "shop" in this manner, so it will be interesting to see what people say. For me, I guess it would have to be a legitimate buisness for one, the home would be more or less close to a business district, and the home would be mostly set up to show how all this audio stuff fits into a real home.

Nodaker's picture

If I think it is hot, then probably not. If it is someone on Audiogon with good feedback then probably. I think it would be hard to find someone working out of their actual home in Fargo, ND. Not a big enough market for the high end.

AdamC's picture

Many of the hi-fi shops offer little other than poor/snob/bad attitudes. I stopped going to a local shop, as a newer sales rep told me to get rid of my lousy system. He did not know I purchased many system components at this store. After that, no more. Most of my new system has been direct purchase from the manfacturers.

audio-sleuth's picture

Since they have no overhead they are cheaper. If you need cheaper with no services that would be the way to go. Just realize all they offer is cheaper. Now, if your local dealer just pushes multi-channel and wouldn't know a turntable from an astrolabe, you should not only buy from a local home dealer, but become one.

Marc D.'s picture

I am open to the idea, although I admit that I would do extensive research to insure that the dealer was supported by the manufacturer. Generally speaking, the manufacturers and/or distributers are more than willingly to tell customers if stores are in good standing. In general, I find the salesmen in brick and mortar stores overbearing. In 15 years, I have only found three stores that I will continure to do business with.

Jim Hathorn's picture

I have nothing against working out of one's home. The equipment should be first class; customer service should be excellent. And, all the services which makes the best companiess excellent should be available at one's home. If this is present, then go for it. jim hathorn

Keith Y's picture

If the equipment is what I want. Sure!!

Kurt's picture

As a matter of fact, I'm currently buying an entire high-end system from a local dealer who's been running a very successful home-based audio business for over 10 years, and I couldn't be more satisfied. Indeed, this has been the absolute best experience I've ever had with any audio dealer. The reasons for this are many, but chief among them would be the extraordinary degree of individual attention I receive from this outstanding home-based dealer. He sees customers one at a time, by appointment only. I've spent many relaxed and highly enjoyable hours (often on Sundays!) at this dealer's warm and charming home—auditioning gear, listening to fine music, talking shop, learning, and just plain having fun. No pressure, no hassles, no distractions, no arm-twisting, and no worries about finding a parking spot! Finally, I'll mention that this dealer routinely gives a 10% discount off the retail price of any item he sells.

Brankin's picture

Would I? Ha! I have! And I will do so again.

Haim Ronen's picture

It is fine as long as the guy works out of his home and not out of his truck. In 1974, in Brussels Belgium I purchased a pair of B&W speakers from a home dealer. The only problem was auditioning the speakers while his twins were crying in the next room.I guess, c'est la vie.

Randolph Schein's picture

I would not buy any major components from a home-factory, but I have bought an accessory: A re-settable tube timer clock that gets inserted between the 12-V triggers on my Audio Research Ref. II Mk II preamp and VT-200 Mk II amplifier. Now I know how many hours are actually one my tubes, an invaluable tool for determining when to re-tube. I would consider buying other accessories or tweaks. And speaking of tweaks, if you look at page 77 of the September issue, you will see that the Oracle CD 2000 player is sitting on some cork and neoprene isolaters. These are the exact same isolators that my HVAC contractor put under my newly installed furnaces (they only cost a few bucks each at an HVAC supply house) and he left me the rest of the box which I have been using to good effect, such as isolating my wooden floor from my subwoofer, isolating my Kimber Select speaker wires from the floor-borne vibrations, etc.

Frosty's picture

Can I hear it in his home? Can I try it in my home? If not, then "not bloody likely!"

John Aiello's picture

Brick and morter stores are great and I understand the issues with mark-up and margin, however, I buy from the guy with the best price on stuff like cables and CDs and such. I would rather buy an amp from a storefront, but don't care when it comes to accessories.

wilson w's picture

It depends! When I bought the Proscenium Gold Signature Turntable from Lloyd Walker seven years ago, I picked up the TT from his home/garage. It turns out this is the best audio equipment I have ever owned!

Clayton Shaw's picture

In-home dealers who have demonstrated integrity and longevity will certainly qualify in my book. They tend to have low overhead as a bonus.

SEW's picture

It worked for me, but it depends on the individual dealer (just like a regular outlet). It gives you a chance to hear the equipment in a real home environment. Your purchase is often sent directly from the manufacturer, allowing you to save money on sales tax. The drawback is the inventory will probably not be very large, and you may end up with the guy's dogs in your lap while you're auditioning, but if you're looking for a realistic experience, that's it!

Tuna's picture

Not a problem—as long as the manufacturer backs up the product with warranty and service. In fact, that's how I purchased my Rogue tube amp, and Mark O'Brian has been very helpful over the last couple of years. What more do you need?

Jon G.'s picture

One of my most satisfying purchases lately has been buying VMPS speakers. I found VMPS almost by accident (they haven't had a Stereophile review in nearly 20 years, despite winning "Best of High End Audio" at CES in 2002 and 2003), when a friend suggested we stop by a local speaker manufacturer's house. I was completely impressed by Brian Cheney's speakers and the sound room in his house was much better than any retail showroom I've been in. In fact, since my purchase, Brian has had several local "meets" to test other equipment on his reference system. We've compared cables and DACs recently. I bought my speakers six months later and have been happy with them ever since.

John - Columbus, Ohio's picture

As long as the proprietor ensured that the room(s) in his/her house that he/she had set aside as their "store" were conducive to auditioning (ie acoustically treated, and with components and speakers expertly set up and configured), then I would make no delineation between them and dealers operating out of traditional "brick-and-mortar" storefronts. Additionally, the home-based proprietor has the advantage of being able (if willing) to set up a system in a regular room so that the prospective buyer can listen under more real-world conditions. I have done business with one such person, Bob Kirk of Archive Audio, and not only is his house set up as well as any audio store that I've visited (and better than many of them), but he has a geniune passion for connecting music lovers with satisfying systems. Works for me!

HAROLD B.  ROBERTS's picture

Have many times through the old AUDIO MART

Alex K's picture

Used equipment, yes. New equipment, no.

MG's picture

I would submit that most audio businesses started out of a garage somewhere at some point. In the "old days," if the business was successful, you would move out of the garage and into a bricks and mortar storefront. Your customers were primarily local, and you met face to face with all of them. The whole paradigm of retail business and customer relations changed with the advent of the internet. The internet drastically reduced the costs associated with starting up a business. Now a retailer can get away with no showroom, and very little (if any) inventory. But to succeed they still need marketing savvy, integrity, and excellent customer relations. That much has not changed. Word spreads very quickly about unscrutable individuals, and they quickly fade from the scene. The questions I ask before purchasing from anyone online are: How long have they been in business? What are other customers saying about them and their product? Do they accept returns in a reasonable manner? How many customers have gone back to buy from them again? Of course, some of these criteria will be difficult to attain information on, but with all of the audio forums out there, it can be found. My home based business will gross about $125k this year (I still need my day job). Double last year, with the help of many return customers to whom I am grateful for their support, friendship and trust.

Tim Bishop's picture

I have done it before!

DrN's picture

I would have to read recommendations or feedback of some sort.

Tom B.'s picture

Dealers working from home do not have either the variety of equipment or space to make comparisons between gear.

Carlos E.Bauza's picture

Yes. I've done it several times, and it has worked out well.