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Good Circuit City, B&H Analysis

Our managing editor John Laposky passed along a story from Inc. Magazine called “Why Circuit City Failed, and Why B&H Thrives” by Joel Spolsky.

The piece is a detailed story of how B&H Photo, a one-store operation located on Manhattan’s West Side that opened in the early 1970s and has a thriving online business at, has a strong sales and service ethic as well as plenty of product selection.

Spolsky’s cites the chain, saying at the end that the economy drove it out of business. Spolsky writes, “You know what? I don’t buy the argument that the economy caused Circuit City’s failure.”

I heartily agree and have said before that Circuit made almost a decade of mistakes before the mother of all recessions hit. It had absolutely no room for error.

I had a discussion with a distributor earlier today who mentioned the success of B&H with its sales, service and selection philosophy. I mentioned the Inc. story and he read it. This distributor, who would rather remain anonymous in this instance, said, “B&H is on top of their game. You have to be in this environment. Circuit City didn’t have the right product selection, didn’t have well-trained salespeople and couldn’t provide service. That’s why they’re out of business.”

The recession is a good excuse, a crutch if you will, to blame your sales woes on. But especially during this recession you have to continue to “be on top of your game” and provide service and product selection, and promote your stores — and your product lines manufacturers out there — especially during tough times.

Speaking of promotions, click here to register for the TWICE CE Top 100 Sneak Preview webinar that yours truly will be hosting at 2 pm Eastern on Monday, May 11. We’ll unveil the Top 25 retailers of calendar year 2008 with TWICE senior editor Alan Wolf, Bob Tancula of the Stevenson Company and Jeff Davis of D&H.