By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Tweeter Home Entertainment Group opened its third “CE playground” concept store here last month, giving the trade a peek at what the chain's future portends.
Unlike the company's first two concept showrooms in Las Vegas (opened in January 2005) and Oak Brook, Ill. (opened in March 2006), the Burlington store is a retrofit of an existing Tweeter location, and combines and expands upon key elements of its predecessors in order to deliver “the ultimate CE shopping experience,” the company said. It thus serves as the template for rolling renovations as the national A/V specialty chain, forged from acquisitions of smaller retailers, upgrades its store base.
As Tweeter explains it, the store's selling spaces create a “consistent customer journey” that makes shopping for home and mobile A/V easier and more enjoyable than the standard grab-and-go retail box. The journey begins with a greeting at the concierge service desk: replicating the service models seen in five-star hotels, the concierge desk offers trained professionals that ensure the customer is completely satisfied during their entire visit to the store.
“As we have continued to grow our business to focus on our service offerings, our identity as an entertainment solutions provider has slowly emerged,” said Tweeter president and CEO Joe McGuire. “We have evolved from being a traditional retail store with strong product knowledge skill sets, to a solution-centric demonstration and display model that also teaches our customers how to bring CE products to life through integration and installation.”
Like its predecessors, the revamped Burlington concept store showcases whole-home control and automation through sleek “notional spaces” designed to replicate the customer's home. Specifically, a fully-integrated family room, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, sports bar and patio space are presented with premium A/V products that are controlled by a single master remote. Customers are also given the ability to see how an entire home's lighting, security and climate control can be controlled from one, centralized location.
In addition to the notional spaces, the store features an oversized wall of flat-panel TVs, including the newest plasma and LCD displays from Pioneer, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba. Tweeter says the wall's distinctive set-up allows customers to more readily compare the TVs.
Similarly, the store's Sight and Sound room features single speaker solutions including on-wall, low-profile speaker systems and in-ceiling and in-wall speakers.
Across from the TV wall is an “On-the-Go” personal electronics area, which highlights the latest introductions in hand-held and portable devices as well as mobile installation and integration. Customers are encouraged to try out new technologies such as HD Radio, wireless radios and home audio integration systems at designated “technology pods.”
Elsewhere, Tweeter continues its 12-volt heritage with a mobile installation bay where customers can receive immediate install services. Three in-car models of mobile installation are presented to demonstrate Tweeter's capabilities in audio, video and digital integration.
At the rear of the store is The Big Screen Adventure, an immersive home theater experience that features D-Box Quest motion simulator seating, a Sony front projector and a 120W-inch Stewart screen.
The store also features a large interactive design center that provides customers with a comfortable place to sit while considering their custom install options.
Tweeter plans to similarly retrofit an existing unit in Buckhead, Ga., during the first quarter of next year, and has added elements of the new format — including a concierge desk, a library and design tables — to three stores in Tampa, Fla., Tysons Corner, Va., and Mission Viejo, Calif.
Tweeter also plans to open a third ground-up prototype in Henderson, Nev., on Dec. 1, and is considering additional locations including Chula Vista, Calif., and East Plano, Texas, for 2007.
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