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Indies Mount Black Friday Counterattacks

NEW YORK – National chains and global e-tailers weren’t the only merchants participating in the Black Friday promotional fray.

Independent CE dealers including Adorama and Starpower launched holiday events of their own, including the latter’s annual pre-Thanksgiving Expo that began here a week before Black Friday.

Starpower, a four-store dealer and custom installer of premium and ultrapremium A/V and appliances, held the three-day Expo at its recently remodeled flagship showroom, where more than 50 manufacturers — including Sony, Samsung, Klipsch, Sonos and Epson — offered demos and special discounts.

Expo deals included a 51-inch HDTV for $428, pairs of custom leather chairs for $999, and an Amana washer for $199, while limited early-bird specials include Blu-ray players for $9 and 32-inch flat screens for $99. In addition, customers who spend $1,500 or more on CE received a pair of platinum-level tickets to a Dallas Mavericks home game.

The event also featured celebrity appearances by Dallas Mavericks players Shawn Marion, Gal Mekel and Wayne Elling, along with the Mavericks Dancers and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, and customers sampled gourmet dishes prepared in the showroom’s live kitchens by chefs from Sub-Zero/Wolf, Viking, Thermador and Alfresco.

Starpower said the event typically draws thousands of customers from as far as hundreds of miles away.

Meanwhile, Adorama, a New Yorkbased imaging and A/V dealer whose website recently tied Amazon for third place in a Consumer Reports satisfaction survey, drove traffic with store-only doorbusters on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Deals included a 7-inch Asus Google Nexus FullHD tablet for less than $200; a 10.1-inch, 16GB Samsung Galaxy tablet with Bluetooth keyboard and desktop dock for less than $300; and a 10.1-inch Asus Transformer touch notebook for less than $350.

In addition, the official CE retailer of the New York Giants offered visitors a chance to enter a Super Bowl sweepstakes for tickets to the Big Game and VIP events.

“This is an exciting time of year and it’s important that Adorama offers the lowest prices and expert service our customers know us for,” said strategic planning director Ahron Schachter.

Working behind the scenes to provide independent CE dealers and resellers with their holiday promotions were wholesalers like D&H Distributing. As senior sales VP Jeff Davis noted, “Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions have gotten more aggressive every year, this year included. It is a turning point for many retailers and dealers, putting them in the black. The more we and our vendors can help the retailer accommodate robust bundles and promotions, the more those retailers stand to profit during this once-a-year window.”

D&H said it also helped customers raise margins and maximize profit potentials by directing them to rebates and discounts, or by allowing them to pass along more competitive deals to consumers.

By mid-November D&H was offering more than 400 Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals from vendors including Acer, Aluratek, APC, Asus, Brinkmann, Case Logic, Gear Head, Genius, Griffin, JVC, LG Electronics, Livescribe, Microsoft, OmniMount, Panasonic, QFX, SanDisk, Samsung, Sennheiser, Speck and Toshiba, and more manufacturers and hundreds of additional offers were expected before Thanksgiving.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals included rebates ranging from $3 to $300 per item, among other specials, and product categories included Windows 8 tablets, touchscreen laptops; Bluetooth speakers; iPhone, iPod, and iPad cases and accessories; headphones; flash drives; monitors; motherboards; gaming equipment; TV mounts; PC chassis; webcams; wireless and USB-based peripherals; soundbars and LED 3DTV displays; and home and outdoor items such as charcoal grills and power tools.