Hearne: Best Buy’s Founder Flounders & Costly French Kiss

Remember the Nine Great American Companies that will never recover a few weeks back?

Well, Best Buy is way too nouveau to qualify as a “great American company,” but it’s big enough and bad enough off to join Sprint, JC Penney and the seven others on the endangered species list.

Not to mention that the fur’s been flying in the business press where Best Buy’s concerned.

Take the headline in Business Week a couple days back: “Analysts take skeptical view of Best Buy.”

Or the dust up over Best Buy’s hiring of a French dude with a hospitality pedigree and no retail experience to head the company. For a cool $32 million no less. Not only that, NBC reported that the French citizen will be paid $6.25 million if he can’t get his green card to work in this country.

Kinda like a golden parachute in case the main parachute doesn’t open.

Which almost makes as much sense as reinstating ousted Best Buy founder Richard Schulze who is campaigning to right the company by taking it private, kicking Amazon‘s ass on price and providing Apple quality in-store customer service.


“That’ll never happen,” muses Kief’s Audio Video owner John Kiefer. “(Best Buy)’s never done quality.”

Schulze is practically the last guy on earth Kiefer would entrust with restoring Best Buy to its glory days – days that were more about being in the right place at the right time than having a “magic touch.”

The glory years of audio / video are in the rear view mirror and the game is much tougher now, Kiefer says.

Is it even possible for Schulze to rescue Best Buy and make it thrive in today’s marketplace?

“I don’t think so,” Kiefer says. “Now that Walmart and all the other big boxes have moved in he’s like a flea crawling up an elephant’s ass with rape on his mind.”

Where Kiefer sees Best Buy in say five years?

“Well, I don’t know how good the new guy is, but how can they follow the same route as Apple when every (electronics) brand has a different policy? If you’re an Apple dealer, you buy from Apple. But they can’t do that at Best Buy because each manufacturer has a different margin. It’s like, ‘Let’s redo the tax code.’ How simple is that? I think Best Buy will be around but it’ll be a whole different animal.”

One possible key to the future survival of electronics retailers would seem to be recapturing the interest of younger buyers who no longer thirst for high end audio and video gear.

Can kids be lured back into the fold?

“That won’t happen until the specialty stores come back,” Kiefer says. “People don’t dream about things that don’t exist and in Kansas City for example, they’ve gone from a dozen or more high end audio video stores to (essentially) one.”

Give it up for soundfx at 4451 Belleview just north of the Plaza.

Oh and Kief’s in Lawrence and Independence Audio in Independence.


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3 Responses to Hearne: Best Buy’s Founder Flounders & Costly French Kiss

  1. Jim says:

    I wouldn’t buy water from Independence Audio. A bigger bunch of scam-artist, liars and incompetent buffoons has never existed.

  2. the dude says:

    Man, one decent store to buy equipment from in this fair city? I guess if you don’t count Vinyl Renaissance in Shawnee, they carry good new and used equipment for sale. In St. Louis they had two handfuls of high end stores, I am sure with the crappy economy that has changed also.

    Sorry state to be in for people that want better than mediocre sound.

  3. chuck says:

    Consumer Electronics is tethered to guys with serious hangovers in trucks, crawling through attics, fishing wire down walls, hauling tools across your living room floor, reading the flights of birds and the entrails of goats to figure out why the latest Low Voltage audio/video device won’t turn on your hot tub with your wrist watch when your in Tokyo.

    Installation is a weak link in a bricks and mortar business model if the owner is on the premises.

    If Schulz thinks he is gonna get the band back together and re live the glory days of $500.00 VCRs and $900.00 DVD Players, then he musta tripped over his Dire Straights “Brothers in Arms” album and hit his head.

    I kinda wanna do some coke now.

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