The stereo store is an endangered species in the world of post-COVID retail.
There is so much competition today from so many places.
Issues Effecting Audiophile Retail Today:
- Flooring gear (meaning paying for demonstration samples and inventory) is more and more costly especially as interest rates go up. Most audiophile dealers borrow money to pay for their gear.
- After over 10 years of boom economy, the cost of rent is higher and higher. And stereo stores to be effective show rooms need a lot of space. In Manhattan, most dealers in the audiophile retail world have moved to second floor (and higher) locations to save on rent. In Los Angeles, dealers like Sunny Components and Evolution AV have moved their retail showroom into non-retail and more warehouse spaces.
- Speaking of warehouses, stores like Costco and Wal-Mart now sell plenty of audio and at low-low-low prices. Consumers chase the lowest prices.
- Audiophile dealers do not tend to inventory enough product thus they want to special order products. This leaves the door open for the likes of audiophile catalog dealers like Audio Advice, Moon Audio, Mo-Fi and Crutchfield to move in.
- Amazon.com sells more and more reputable audiophile products with free two-day shipping and liberal return policies. Why go to a stereo store when one can come to you via FedEx and UPS right at your house.
- The art of salesmanship is a dying one. Professional, relationship-based sales is hard for introverted “me-first (second and third) Millennials” in today’s world. They don’t put the customer first.
- On big ticket audiophile products like audiophile headphones savvy consumers know to order products out of state to save tax.
- Big ticket products like home theater seating cost easily three times more to ship now thus have less profit margins paired with higher retail prices.
All of these factors make up a tough environment for stores like Snijders HIFI to compete in. Many of us remember our local stereo store fondly. Some will never know a local stereo store at all.