In the 1970s, the the heyday of all things audiophile there were AV dealers everywhere. Big cities had A-List, B-List, C-list and even more random dealers in top markets. Mid-level markets were serviced by regional audio-video chains be it ones like Myer Emco in Washington D.C. or Bryn Mawr Stereo in Philadelphia or Audio Advice in the South East United Stated. Definitive Audio in Seattle is another good one. Tweeter was a strong chain out of Boston. In Canada, there were many chains.
Big box retailers were plentiful in the past. Best Buy has been around for a long time, but it is easy to forget Circuit City which went out of business because they fired their commissioned salespeople. Six months later they were bankrupt. Magnolia exists today but national chains like Ultimate Electronics, that serviced many of the smaller and mid-market areas in the U.S. are now gone.
Yes, there are players like Amazon, Wal-Mart and Costco today but they offer little to no specialty products and little to no extra service. If you just need a big television set for cheap – then perhaps they are fine but if you need anything more – they are likely not fine for your needs.
For audiophiles, Manhattan and other key parts of New York City like Brooklyn, have been an international destination. There were dealers like Sound by Singer and Lyric HiFi and Innovative audio. Many have been forced to move upstairs to “non-ground-floor” locations because of the cost of rent.
In Los Angeles, the trend for audiophile dealers is to put larger showroom into warehouse space. Evolution Audio Video in Calabasas has done this with an emphasis on home theater but with some audiophile options available. Sunny Components east of Downtown Los Angeles is another example. Catering to a wealthy, Asian market… Sunny Components sells amazingly expensive audiophile components, also out of a warehouse. You wouldn’t know it from the inside of the space as they are both wonderfully built-out.
Others who look for floor traffic first, work to install their audiophile salons near art galleries like The Audio Salon in Santa Monica. Others do pop-up stores in 5-Star Mobil Guide hotels or at the Flight Based Operations (FBO or “private jet airports) to reach people who have the money but might not know that they needed a $100,000 or more expensive audio system.
How the times have changed when it comes to audio-video dealers…