By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
ORANGE, CONN. — While Best Buy says it is not ready to announce specific store openings in Connecticut, a sign posted in town here indicates the retail giant is finally about to open its doors in the Nutmeg state, and local retailers say they welcome the formidable competitor.
At least one local retailer said it expects Best Buy to open its first Connecticut location in September. A spokesman for the 419-store chain confirmed only, "We're looking at a couple of different locations but nothing's been signed." Excluding Connecticut, Best Buy operates in 41 states.
Circuit City has four stores in Connecticut, with one located a mile from the site here on Route 1. Among the strong regional consumer electronics and car audio chains are Tweeter, Etc., Jo-Di's Sound Centers and Boomer McCloud (all with locations on Route 1). All say they expect the stepped-up advertising resulting from Best Buy's entrance to help boost the market.
"If we could, we'd put our store right in between Best Buy and Circuit City so customers would go, 'Hey what's that place? Let's go in,'" said Marc Spatz, mobile electronics buyer for Tweeter, Etc. which has six stores in the state. Tweeter said it does not compete with Best Buy as it offers different brands in the mid- to high-end range.
Boomer McCloud said it has ordered a larger sign for its Orange location (within 100 yards of the new Best Buy site) in response to the chain's entry, according to VP Bob Zinno. "We've been in several markets where Best Buy has come in and we haven't seen a decline in business. The comeback from the stores is that they actually move ahead [in sales]. A single store operation which doesn't have the advertising clout is more likely to be a casualty than a chain is," Zinno said.
Jo-Di's says its target demographic is different than Best Buy. "Being that we've been around for 30 years and we specialize only in car audio, our customer is not as price sensitive as someone who goes to an over-the-counter place. Our customer is more concerned about how their car is going to look," said general manager Jodi DeFazio, adding, "and a lot of our sales are moving to video and navigation and the big-box players are not heavily in that arena."
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