Sound Advice Returning To Florida

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Fort Lauderdale, Fla. - Sound Advice, the premium A/V specialty chain that closed with corporate parent Tweeter, could be back in business by September.

The operation is being resurrected by former chairman/CEO Peter Beshouri and senior executive Michael Blumberg, who reacquired the brand, mailing lists and other intellectual properties in Tweeter's bankruptcy sale.

Beshouri plans to have a website up by September and the first new showroom opened by year's end.

Tweeter acquired Sound Advice in a 2002 stock deal valued at about $150 million. The chain had about 33 stores throughout Florida at the time, and initially continued as a wholly owned subsidiary. Tweeter later integrated Sound Advice into its operations, and eventually went bankrupt in 2008.

Beshouri believes the loss of powerful, independent regional A/V specialists like Tweeter, Sound Advice and Magnolia has created "an extraordinary void in the marketplace, and nature abhors a void."

To help fill that niche while adapting to new economic and marketplace realities, he and partner Blumberg plan to leverage the Internet, limit showroom expansion, and keep a tight rein on costs. The company will continue to offer the best in audio and video hardware while focusing on service, upgrades, connectivity issues and solution-oriented selling, he said, and is banking on Sound Advice's 35-year-old brand, sterling reputation and many thousands of former customers.

Most transactions will be conducted on-site, Beshouri said, with appointments initiated online. House calls will be made by Sound Advice employees and also outsourced to former company installers, now independent, to ensure consistency of service.

Sound Advice will also maintain a traditional retail business, albeit through smaller 4,000- to 5,000-square-foot showrooms, compared with the company's previous 16,000-square-foot format. Much of the extra space was taken up categories that Beshouri won't re-enter, such as digital imaging and 12-volt A/V and installation, he said, and store growth will be limited to one location within each major Florida market.

Under the plan, Beshouri will handle sales and marketing and Blumberg will oversee merchandising, just as they had during the company's initial reign.

Sound Advice is also collaborating with Jon Myer, late of MyerEmco, who may also re-enter the marketplace with a similar business model and solution-oriented showroom format.

"A wall of TVs doesn't make sense anymore," Beshouri said. "You have to go about it in a different way."

Beshouri seemed unfazed by the challenge of relaunching a business during a deep recession and within an especially hard-hit market, citing the continued success of high-end retailers Neiman Marcus and Saks. "There's no magic," he said. "It's a matter of being real organized, very lean, hiring the best people, and getting customers' needs filled in a credible and honest way."

He added: "If anyone can resurrect the Sound Advice legacy, it's its founders."


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