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Missed It By That Much: Grant’s, Jetson, Bjorn Top The Next Tier

5/17/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK — Grant’s, Jetson
and Bjorn’s, three of the most familiar
names in independent electronics
and appliance retail, have long flirted
with Top 100 CE status.

This go around, the chains placed
107th, 108th and 109th, respectively,
missing the cut by less than $10
million.

Grant’s Appliance & Electronics has
served the Chicago area for more
than 80 years, beginning with its
first incarnation as a hardware and
appliance store. Current management,
lead by president/CEO George
Olsen and COO and chief technology
officer Bob Bevilacqua, acquired
the Joliet, Ill.-based business in 1993
and built it into a 10-store CE and
majap chain.

Its Illinois showrooms and opento-
the-public warehouse draw customers
from nor thern Illinois,
northern Indiana and southern Wisconsin,
who are enticed by the wide
assortment of tier-one TVs, premium
appliances, and the promise of
competitive prices. Its slogan: “If you
want to spend more money, that’s
your business. If you want to spend
less money, that’s Grant’s business!”

However, the privately held company
provides neither online shopping
nor in-home installation services,
opting to outsource the latter.

Last year the chain left the NATM
Buying Corp. for a rival organization
after six years with the buying group,
paving the way for the return of local
competitor Abt Electronics. Sales
slipped 7.7 percent in 2009, to $16
million.

Jetson TV & Appliance Centers also
changed affiliations last year, opting
to join the A/V specialty Progressive
Retailers Organization (PRO
Group). The five-store chain, based
in Ft. Pierce, Fla., and led by president
Trey Thofner, seeks to fill the
better-CE void left by Circuit City
and Tweeter subsidiary Sound Advice
within the Sunshine State. At
last report, the company was remodeling
stores and adding new electronics
brands through its affiliation
with PRO, while leveraging the
group’s strategic relationship with
Home Entertainment Source (HES)
to tap into parent BrandSource’s majap
buying and warehousing programs.

Apparently the plan is working:
Jetson’s CE sales rose 7.2 percent last
year to $16 million.

Last year was less kind to Bjorn’s,
the best-in-breed A/V specialty dealer
and fellow PRO Group member.
Sales fell 17.5 percent to $13 million,
which some industry observers
would attribute to the absence of ecommerce
capabilities.

President/founder Bjorn Dybdahl
started the single-store operation in
1975, and continues to focus on selling
and servicing audio, video and
home theater — and designing and
installing complete home entertainment
systems — for the greater San
Antonio, Texas community.

Bjorn’s greatest asset is Dybdahl
himself, whose love of the business
has helped make him a larger-thanlife
presence in the store and on the
airwaves. Beginning with how-to
stints on local radio talk shows, he
slowly assumed the role of front man
and goodwill ambassador for both
Bjorn’s and the CE industry, having
hosted informational network TV
spots while conducting regular seminars
at the store.

Other retailers that fell shy of the
Top 100’s $22 million cutoff, as set
by No. 100, Cowboy Maloney’s, included:
Rite Aid (No. 101): The nation’s
third-largest drugstore chain, with
4,800 stores in 31 states, sold $21
million in largely low-end CE and
accessories last year, reflecting a 19
percent drop in sales.

The Camp Hill, Pa.-based company
had a net loss of $506.7 million
for the full fiscal year ended Feb.
27, compared with a prior-year loss
of $2.9 billion, and revenue declined
2.4 percent to $25.7 billion due to
121 fewer stores and weak consumer
demand, chairman/CEO Mary Sammons
said.

CVS (No. 102): Consumer Value
Stores started in 1963 as a lone
health and beauty aid shop in Lowell,
Mass., and has become the nation’s
largest pharmacy health care
provider with nearly $100 billion
in revenues. Despite a recent buying
binge under outgoing chairman,
president and CEO Thomas Ryan
that brought it Eckerd, Sav-On/
Osco and Longs Drugs, the Woonsocket,
R.I.-based business was surpassed
by Walgreens as the No. 1 drug-store chain.

CE products include cameras,
flash memory, PNDs, personal media
players, batteries and accessories,
sales of which fell 6 percent last year
to $20 million.

Bi-Mart (No. 103): Bi-Mart is a 55-
year-old employee-owned discount
membership chain headquartered
in Eugene, Ore., operating throughout
the Northwest with 72 stores
in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
Each full-line store stocks about
40,000 SKUs, including a limited assortment
of imaging products, LCD
TVs, BD and DVD players, phones,
blank media, entertainment software,
and accessories.

CE sales totaled $18 million last
year, down 22 percent from 2008.

Other would-be Top 100 contenders
included:

• REI (No. 104), the 80-store outdoor
recreation chain operating in 27
states, which saw sales rise 5.5 percent
to $18 million last year;

• Hastings Entertainment (No. 105),
a 42-year-old entertainment chain
whose 153 superstores sell new and
used CDs, books, videos and video
games. Sales slipped 2.2 percent to
$18 million;

• Bass Pro Shops (No. 106), the 54-
store sporting-goods chain, which
enjoyed an 8.5 percent spike in sales
last year to $17 million; and

• Big Georges (No. 110), the Michigan
appliance, electronics and furniture
dealer whose two superstores
generated $13 million in CE sales
last year, up 1.4 percent.

NATM Looms Large On Top 100

SMITHTOWN, N.Y. — Due to the makeup
of its membership, which is comprised
of regional and multiregional electronics
and appliance chains, The NATM Buying
Corp., here, has the unique distinction
of being represented on the Top 100
charts by all 11 members.

They are, in order of CE sales volume:
• P.C. Richard & Son (No. 23), $779 million
• BrandsMart USA (No. 30), $438 million
• Conn's (No. 35), $360 million
• ABC Warehouse (No. 40), $263 million
• Nebraska Furniture Mart (No. 43), $248 million
• Abt Electronics (No. 46), $210 million
• Video Only (No. 48), $181 million
• R.C. Willey (No. 55), $132 million
• Electronic Express (No. 66), $85 million
• Boscov's (No. 68), $78 million
• Cowboy Maloney's (No. 100), $22 million.

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