For enduring A/V retailer Audio Etc., the high end drives the bottom line
Principal Sam Aldrich started at the stereo shop — one of about half a dozen downtown, he recalls Â— as a part-timer in 1986 when he was a student at then-Quinnipiac College.
Â“It was the era when, if anyone wanted better sound, you needed a good stereo system,Â” Aldrich says. Â“It was almost a foregone conclusion that anyone who was reasonably able to buy something and liked music wanted a stereo, so there was a proliferation of stores in the Â‘70s and early Â‘80s.
Â“You put pride into your stereo because there was a difference in performance, in the goose bumps you got, and the difference was discernible.Â”
Audio Etc. today focuses on the luxury end of music reproduction, selling top-tier audio units and speakers, as well as a full range of home theater gear, including video screens and projectors. Much of the companyÂ’s business Â— about 70 percent Â— comes from Â“full-solutionÂ” installations; Audio Etc. staff often collaborate with customers and builders to integrate home theater and media room equipment into new homes and additions.
Dave Dorne of Woodbury firm Churchill Builders worked with Aldrich and Audio Etc. audio/video integrator Josh Silverman on the recent installation of a home theater system buy valium online no prescription a restored 1700s farmhouse on a Washington (Connecticut) residential property. The homeowners were looking for really good sound with lots of bass, no visible speakers or equipment, and for the entire system to be controlled by iPads.
Â“It was easy to achieve working with Sam and Josh; they have a deep knowledge base in their industry,Â” says Dorne, who adds that Audio Etc. can remotely monitor the status of the equipment for quick diagnostics. Â“Audio/video equipment these days is more than just plugging in the DVD player. There are all sorts of software and firmware upgrades Â— thereÂ’s a lot going on.Â”
Dorne says Aldrich and Silverman helped select the right equipment, as well as provide insight to speaker positioning, wiring and sundry technical considerations.
Having been present for the buy tramadol of the finished system, Dorne says, Â“It was the finest home theater I have ever experienced.Â”
The price of the set-up can vary; Aldrich says a more modest budget might be in the neighborhood of $15,000, but a full installation routinely hits six figures.
Evolving listening habits of consumers have greatly changed the nature of the business, particularly for those simply looking for a good stereo.
Â“The point of entry has been progressively falling and the accessibility to good sound has gotten better,Â” Aldrich says. Â“The laptop-and-a-pair-of-speakers is close enough to the big stereo rig that a person might have had 25 years ago. These people were my customers in the Â‘80s: Â‘good enoughÂ’ back then meant you still needed a pair of speakers and an amplifier.Â”
Audio Etc. relocated to a retail location on the Boston Post Road in Orange in 1995, where it serviced the high-end by-appointment-only customers and walk-ins alike, but that wasnÂ’t changing business one way or the other. However, Aldrich felt he could do without the pricy overhead, rent and extra staffing costs that came along with a prime retail location.
HeÂ’s been able to cut those costs and still focus on that luxury market since moving Audio Etc. back to New Haven a year ago, in a showroom space in a converted factory complex on Willow Street.
Â“You have to make the decision of whether youÂ’re going to be a price leader or quality leader Â— you canÂ’t be both,Â” he says. Â“We need to remember that people tramadol online buying from us to get the lowest price. WeÂ’re relevant for people who want a high level of service Â— the same person who would place value on dining at the Union League CafÃ©. ItÂ’s not for everybody to spend $200 on dinner for two, but it is relevant for some.Â”
There are few over-the-counter transactions, and Aldrich and the lean staff (two full-time, two part-time, plus four field technicians) can focus on working and planning with clients. There are numerous demo configurations in the showroom that allow customers to test-drive different audio and video set-ups.
Aldrich has noticed a marked increase in buyer confidence as the economy rebounds, and he is confidently optimistic about Audio Etc.Â’s place in the market going forward.
Â“As much as IÂ’d like to think this is a necessity, it is a luxury,Â” he says. Â“To have weathered the last few years is an accomplishment, and I would categorize anyone in this buy tramadol online today who is in business as a successful company.Â”
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