Kansas City – and probably soon Lawrence – are perfect examples. As recently as 10 years ago both still had at least a smattering of mid to high end electronics boutiques. Now Kansas City is down to essentially two stores – one really. There’s Overland Park’s AV Design Studio and in Lawrence, Kief’s Audio Video, which is facing a far from uncertain future following the recent retirement of owner/founder John Kiefer.
So while the jury’s still out, the Grim Reaper’s in and he’s licking his chops.
And it’s not much better on the national front.
It will be a minor miracle if Best Buy is still around in five, let alone 10 years.
And longtime industry giant Radio Shack, Don’t even ask.
“I think they’ll close about 1,000 stores in the next couple of months,” Kiefer speculates. “They were once a good company. The problem is they were catering to do-it-yourselfers and that market is dying. Radio Shack is like the guy still trying to sell buggy whips. I’m sure there’s a market for that still, but you can’t make much money selling buggy whips.”
Radio Shack scaled back plans to close more than 1,000 stores in May after failing to reach an agreement with its lenders. That after reporting a $191.4 fourth quarter loss in March.
The trials and tribulations are almost everywhere.
“The audio business is gone,” Kiefer says. “Because the only thing a customer wants to do today is walk into a store and listen to something and then go somewhere else and find a better price.”
“Close the stores that are trying to to cater to the do-it-yourselfers,” Kiefer says. “Let that go to their online division. And leave open the stores where there’s a high concentration of mid level to affluent customers. That’s probably 10 percent of its stores.”
In other words, close 90 percent of the 4,300 Radio Shacks open today?
“That’s right and at the ones they keep open raise the prices.”
Did I mention that the future of audio video stores was bleak?