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Retail Flux Continues With Shutdown, Expansions

NEW YORK — In a series of moves
that have become emblematic of CE
retailing, Flanner’s Home Entertainment
suspended operations while
BrandsMart USA, hhgregg and P.C.
Richard & Son have expanded theirs.

Flanner’s, based in Brookfield, Wis.
is a family-held one-store operation that
temporarily suspended operations late
last month due to a cash-flow crunch.
The situation has crimped vendor shipments
and triggered loan repayment
demands from its bank, the local Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel reported.

In a statement posted on the company’s
Web site, principal John Flanner,
a past president of the Professional
Audio Video Retailers Association
(PARA), said he is “renegotiating our
business and financial relationships”
following recent challenges, which he
attributed to the economic downturn.

“This process has taken longer than
expected, and we are no longer able to
provide the experience or level of service
we strive to provide. Therefore, we
are temporarily pausing operations,” he

The former Progressive Retailers Organization
(PRO Group) dealer’s dilemma
underscores the challenges facing
independents in general and A/V
specialists in particular as discounters
and e-tailers encroach on core brands
and product lines that were once offlimits
to those channels.

In the Web statement, Flanner said
the company appreciates “all of the support
we’ve received as a local, family-owned independent business, and we
intend to continue serving this community
for years to come.”

Meanwhile, hhgregg continued its
Mid-Atlantic rollout with the opening
last week of its first six locations in
the greater Baltimore area. The 30,000-
square-foot superstores are located in
Annapolis, Bel Air, Catonsville, Glen
Burnie, Hanover and Towson, Md., and
their debuts were marked with grandopening
ceremonies including ribbon
cuttings and sweepstakes that afternoon.

“We are excited to expand our foot-print in the state of Maryland by opening
our first Baltimore area stores,” said
marketing VP Jeff Pearson. “We think
residents will be pleased with the wide
selection of appliances and electronics
on display,” which includes more than
100 TV models and inventory for more
than 500 major appliances.

The stores, part of the company’s
planned 45-unit surge through the
Mid-Atlantic States, will knock heads
with Baltimore-based The Big Screen
Store, which operates 14 locations
throughout Maryland and Virginia.

Further north, P.C. Richard & Son,
which shares with hhgregg a similar business
model, mix of CE and majaps, and
very soon the same markets in Philadelphia
and New Jersey, opened two more
Connecticut stores last week, bringing its
store count in the Nutmeg State to three.

The new stores are located in Milford
in a former Linens’n Things, and
in a former Circuit City in North Haven.
They join the NATM dealer’s first
Connecticut store, which opened last
year in Norwalk.

A fourth P.C. Richard store is scheduled
to open soon in Danbury, and
company president Gregg Richard recently
told TWICE that the company
could have as many as six Connecticut
locations by year’s end.

Richard said the family-held chain
was also scouting locations for a regional
distribution center and may eventually
extend its New England footprint
to Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Further south, the retailer is preparing
to open its first two stores in
the Philadelphia area, is eyeing Delaware,
and is adding two new locations
in New Jersey, for a total of seven to 10
store openings this year.

Still further south, BrandsMart
USA, the multiregional electronics
and appliance discount chain, will open
its first small-format store next fall in
a former Linens’N Things in Miami’s
Dadeland Mall.

The two-story, 44,500-squarefoot
location is about half the size of
BrandsMart’s typical octagonal megastores,
which feature three floors of CE,
appliances and housewares.

The company has long coveted the
heavily trafficked Dadeland area, president
Mike Perlman told the told the
Miami Herald, but was precluded by
the space requirements of its stores and
parking lots, which typically cover 13
acres per location.

The new store, the NATM dealer’s
10th, will sacrifice onsite warehouse
space but will still be larger than most
competitors, Perlman said.