Hearne: Oracle of Lawrence Speaks Out on Best Buy Booty Boondoggle & Free Fall

There’s little doubt that few in Lawrence, Kansas loom larger than businessman John Kieffer

From humble beginnings on the wrong side of the tracks on Kansas City’s East Side, Kieffer built both an audio/video and commerical real estate empire in the Land of the Jayhawk by being in the exact right place at the exact right time. For 53 years and counting, no less.

Not to mention he’s lived to tell the story.

Kieffer’s take on the ongoing free fall of audio/video giant Best Buy, which recently ousted it’s 50-something, married CEO over a sex scandal with a 20-something woman subordinate, after days earlier announcing the closing of 50 stores, hundreds of staff layoffs and a plan to downsize its box store biz by opening 100 smaller, Best Buy Mobile stores?

"That’s not what’s happening," Kieffer says of the downsizing talk. "That’s (just) what they’re putting out. It’s a positive spin for a company that’s got a lot of problems. You know, if you’re closing stores and everybody’s talking about you…The truth of the matter is I don’t know of anybody that’s making money in the audio-video industry in the past five years. The audio-video industry is parallell to the housing industry – it’s oversaturated and overexposed – so only the direct dealers seem to be able to survive. Most smaller dealers buy through wholesalers and distributors."

In short, the world is changing, becoming more competitive and whether Best Buy can survive those changes remains in great doubt.

How tough is it at Best Buy?

So much so that interim CEO Mike Mikan released a video message to the chain’s 170,000 employees that began with him conceding that, "I know these have been difficult days at Best Buy. And like all of you, I hear about it from my friends in the community and my family members."

Best Buy had hoped to take advantage of the demise of its main competitor Circuit City three years ago, but revenue at Best Buy stores open at least a year have declined in three of the last four years.

The bottom line: in the world of electronics – kind of like newspapers and greeting cards – while industry leaders often blame things on the economy, not all businesses are destined to live forever, either in good times or bad.

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19 Responses to Hearne: Oracle of Lawrence Speaks Out on Best Buy Booty Boondoggle & Free Fall

  1. rick says:

    Let’s go for three
    My previous two comments have been deleted. So lets’ see if we can go for the triple crown. Let me break the story that even the TMZ bosses don’t want told. But first let’s review.
    1-Deleted when I mentioned Randy Miller and his fake imbrace of Christianty
    2-Deleted when i brought up the fact that Harley apparently knows more about the legal system then the fake “I was an undercover agent” Glazer does.

    And number three. The story no one wants mentioned. Dick Clark died while being treated for an out patiant surgery. Hummm… Could Dick Clark have died while having ANOTHER COSMETIC PROCEDURE. Oh well let’s delete this. We wouldn’t want to be accused of breaking any news now would we.

  2. Hearne says:

    You have quite an imangination, dude…
    Not that I know of.
    Delete a Randy Miller quote, why bother?

    Delete Glazer / Harley quote? Ditto.

    If you haven’t noticed, there’s been no shortage of boring, un-deleted Glazer-Harley quotes on here of late.

    You hit your head or something by chance?

    And why anyone would delete a Dick Clark death rumor escapes me as well.

    Hang in there dude and get some rest

  3. Hearne says:

    Oh yeah…
    TMZ already reported that Clark was in for outpatient surgery three days ago

  4. chuck says:

    Times sure do change.
    Back in 1979, when interest rates were at 19%, I can remember financing Sanyo Compacts (That is a Radio, Cassette or 8 Track, with two speakers and a Turntable on top, that went for $299.00 for 4 years.

    Couldn’t keep ’em in stock.

    If there is any money in AV anymore, it is in installation after the sale and you had better know what your doing.

    Kiefer is right.

    Tough business.

  5. Smartman says:

    Is that your vinyl answer?
    High end audio will come back around when the economy gets better. High end like Keifer sells, not the crap that big box stores carry. Nothing beats Coltrane on vinyl, blasting out of my Canton’s at 100 db. Toss in a nice Fess Parker Pinot noir, an Avo #5 and a great woman who enjoys all three and I’m livin’ la vida loca. It was a long walk back from a Sony Walkman, cinnamon schnapps and a joint but it was well worth it

  6. balbonis moleskine, my wine comes in a mylar bag says:

    Fess Parker Pinot Noir?

    Davy Crockett makes wine now?

  7. Smartman says:

    @Balboni
    Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, aka Fess Parker, now deceased, winery and vineyard run by his son, makes great wines. The movie Sideways was filmed there, just north of Santa Barbara. Fess bought the land back in the 70’s, sent his son to UC Davis to get a degree in Oenology and the rest is history. When he bought the land there were 14 wineries in that area. Today there are over 150. Fess said that when you die, if you were good you got to go to heaven, if you were really good, you got to go to Santa Barbara. That part of California is Biblically BEAUTIFUL! Less snooty, pretentious and expensive than Napa. More right wingers than commie libs.

  8. chuck says:

    Tube or not tube
    Mcintosh Tube amp smartman?

    Jesus, no one sleeps around here, its too early to golf, lets go fishing.

  9. bschloz says:

    Best Buy
    I got no problem with Best Buy. Can you really out think a Samsung TV?
    People say BBY is just showroom for AMZN– Whatever..maybe a little BBY in the teens.

    How bout the carnage in RIMM (blackberry) NOK $S
    On the other hand we have the ascent of AAPL which since May of 2011 has gone from a $240 billion company to a 550 billion company. Apple comprises 20% of the Nascrack. The stock swings 25-50 billion in market cap a day. I’m guessing this will not end well.

    *Hearne, we need more posts on the Royals — this losing streak has epic written all over it..
    Glazer have you set a new # .. I know 90 is out of the picture is 78.5 still on the table? 🙂

  10. paulwilsonkc says:

    recently unemployeed, needs something to do….
    …..50’ish, spanking 20 year olds…. I see comedy club ownership in this dudes future!

  11. Smartman says:

    Tu be or not Tu be
    Chuck:

    I sleep but always check KCC when I get up to pee in the hope that Harley or Joe Miller have posted a nugget.

    I love tube amps. Some friends of mine with more money then they can spend have tube systems, amp and pre-amp, that are scary when it comes to sonic accuracy and “warmth” of sound. I can’t afford to swim in those waters. They’ve probably got $30K to $40K tied up in their “primary” audio systems. Add in another $10K to $20K for custom built listening rooms and furniture and it gets out of control. Tubes and vinyl go together like peanut butter and chocolate or harley and thorzine. Nice thing about high end audio is there is a huge market for used equipment on the internet. Everybody seems pretty honest and every now and then you can find some

  12. bschloz says:

    LOL
    Comedy Club Owner?…Pfffft …that guy couldn’t carry Glaze’s jock strap.
    They would laugh him out of Woodside when he showed up in his Blue Best Buy gear.

  13. Balbonis moleskine says:

    Smartman, thanks for the info
    I appreciate the info on the guy, that is a neat story. Im not a huge wine guy, although I do love italian wines white and red.

    In this world of diminished expectations, people my age drink craft beer who 20 years ago would have bought a nice bottle of wine. Ive been drinking craft beers since high school so the trend is fine with me.

    Now Boulevard Smokestack, Dogfish, Bell’s, Founders, and Lagunitas are the Coppola, Vermeil, Fess Parker, Brunellos.

    For people my age, wine is what alcoholic cougars/mom’s handsy female friends drink. Cocktails are also on the upswing with the under 40 set, although that was a bit 5 years ago. You pretty much never see young people drinking wine, its terroir-able!

  14. Smartman says:

    @balboni
    I’m expecting my spring shipment of 2009 Fess Parker pinot noir’s to arrive this week. Get me your address and I’ll send you a bottle.

  15. randyraley says:

    best buy
    About six months ago, I decided to buy a new computer, one that had the hard drive built into the monitor.
    Did my due diligence and research and went shopping at Best Buy. (I’m old school like that).
    Went through the door was greeted by a kid young enough to call me “sir.”
    Please, don’t do that. I don’t like “sir”.
    That was basically the only customer service I received. I spotted what I was looking for and waited for someone to help me.
    Hey, the computer was right there, not more than five feet away.
    One “associate” was into a bitching match with his squueze, another was texting away and couldn’t be bothered.
    So, I waited. Five minutes. Ten. No one.
    So as I walked out of the store, I decided to talk to the manager about the situation. His response was basically..”whoa,dude, like I’m so sorry that happened. You know, it’s really hard to get good help anymore.”
    WTF? Needless to say, I went online and ordered it.
    This generation of “associates” wouldn’t know customer service if it bit them in the ass. It’s not the covenience of ordering online.
    It’s the “who cares” attitude of this current sales model.
    That’s why a place like Kief’s or The Sound Room here in St. Louis are still very valuable.
    Smartman, I recently unretired my Sony STR-V3 beast bought in 1976.
    I also unretired my Garrard turntable that had been by my side since 1973. Coltrane sounds awesome and so does Wes Montgomery.
    So does Abbey Road for that matter.

  16. Smartman says:

    To everything turn,turn, turntable
    Randy, just got Deep Purple’s Machine Head on 180 gram virgin vinyl…remastered. It’s great to have 10,000 songs on a PDA or computer but hearing those old classics again on vinyl with the benefit of 40 years of audiophile improvements is like being able to go back to the first date with your wife and having the benefit of all the wisdom you’ve acquired since then.

    Your post about the vinyl experience on your blog says it all!

  17. the dude says:

    Best buy killed the potential golden goose
    Poor customer service and a crap online model make for a business that is about to go out of business.
    People will not go back to a store when they get horrible service, companies these days just don’t get it or do not care- HEY QUARTERLIES ARE F’IN” AWESOME!!! Customer service?!?!?!?

    Too little, too late, when Circuit City crapped the bed, Best Buy had the opportunity to get a true stanglehold and go bonkers with the online, Amazon is eating their breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Wait a year or more and you’ll be able to get those McIntosh MC275 tube amps anlong with the Martin Logans they have at Best Buy for a song.

  18. paulwilsonkc says:

    Not to mention their extended warranty issues…
    … which are legendary! Take a look at some of the sites, one law suit after another. One of the consumer sites shows 78% of the people rate them the lowest level of poor. It’s been a perfect storm of chances to fail.
    My last trip in was to buy a docking station/speakers for my daughter in laws iPod. The unit I wanted had dubious instructions/compatabilites so I asked 3 people in the department, got 3 answers, all different.

  19. Rick says:

    well YEAH……TMZ
    reported his death and that he was in the hospital for undisclosed reasons. Where have you been dude reading the Enquirer? Correcting a Glazer article? Writing anotherr story about Jardines. Come on keep up with us will ya?

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