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Weaning Off TV

Several years back, buying group exec Richard Glikes urged his member dealers, installers and integrators to wean themselves off the TV teat.

Now understand, I have nothing but respect and admiration for Richard and all the work he has done on behalf of independent retailers. But at the time I thought he was nuts.

TV was (and for the most part still is) the cornerstone of the CE assortment, the big-ticket tent pole that supports all A/V products and accessories.

But Richard argued, a bit presciently, that absent protected or derivative models, or the firepower to duke it out on price, TV was a money-losing proposition for some dealers. Not all, just his.

Fast-forward to last week, when TWICE covered a tale of two retailers, one very large and the other very small.

Sears revealed through an 8K filing that it was overhauling its challenged CE department, shifting from a central focus on TV to a broad connected-solutions strategy. Ryan Ciovaco, Sears’ president of connected solutions and consumer electronics, told TWICE that as part of this repositioning, video would be but one element that will also include tablets, wearables, wireless audio, appliances and fitness products.

Conversely, TWICE paid a visit last week with Electronics Expo – a single-showroom A/V dealer and custom installer in northern New Jersey that survived a bankruptcy, returned to profitability, and just now opened a second store.

Owner Leon Temiz, who has a storied history in New York metro-area CE retail, reminded a reporter that TV was his downfall, and high-end audio his salvation.

“TV got us into trouble,” he said of the price-battered category, which had been the centerpiece of his once eight-location business. IR payment lags, truckload requirements, and weekly price adjustments led to mounting losses, he recalled, prompting a major video vendor to pull its credit lines, leading him into Chapter 11.

Today, Temiz, like Sears, continues to participate in TV, particularly with today’s higher priced, richer margin, UPP-protected Ultra HD models.

Years after Glikes’ admonition, these retailers have found a new balance in their assortments.

No, they haven’t abandoned video, and for most A/V dealers the TV wall will continue to stand tall. But just like some of the content it displays, TV ain’t for everybody.