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TWICE Salutes Retailers That Live, Breathe CE

“I live in a world of fog and air pockets.” That’s a one-liner by the late, great standup philosopher Rodney Dangerfield. But it could have been said by any independent CE retailer in the U.S. describing the changing CE marketplace of the past few years.

The challenges that have faced independent retailers in this industry over the past few years have been mind-boggling for some and overwhelming for others.

Which is why the 2012 Class of TWICE Retail Excellence Award winners should be given a special commendation for surviving and thriving in a tough economy — as well as competing in an industry that is increasingly dominated by online retailers on the one hand, and mobile electronics on the other.

This year’s honorees are regional and local electronics or electronics/appliance retailers that are well-known and well-respected in their local areas and by the trade in general:

• B&H Photo of New York

• Conn’s of The Woodlands, Texas

• Curacao of Los Angeles

• Modia, based in Houston

• P.C. Richard & Son from the New York metropolitan area

• Video & Audio Center of Santa Monica, Calif.

Each one of these retailers experienced first-hand the myriad of changes and downturns in their markets — and a lot worse — and adapted to survive and thrive.

B&H Photo built on its photography roots to enter the CE business and now, via its website, attempts to gain a national footprint. Conn’s, which only a short two years ago was in serious financial trouble, turned its operation around by retraining its staff and re-merchandising its stores. Video & Audio Center saw the future for its stores — vendor departments like upscale men’s clothing stores, plus an expanded program of introducing new technology — to build its business.

And none of these retailers are “overnight successes.” Of course P.C. Richard & Son comes to mind — the 103-yearold, family-owned chain being run by the fourth generation. Modia hasn’t been around 103 years, but 26 years for this family-owned business is significant in any industry. And Curacao is a department store chain with an emphasis on CE that is 31 years old and serves the Hispanic market.

Which reminds me about how Wall Street analysts and financial bloggers have sounded this year: They seem to feel that just because they bought a tablet or smartphone via national retailer or well-known website, they know everything about CE retailing.

I beg to differ. You have to live and breathe the business to really know what makes this industry tick, so you can successfully navigate companies through the “fog and air pockets” of an industry that is always competitive, even in the best of times.

So here’s a hearty salute to the class of 2012 TWICE Excellence In Retailing Award winners for living the business and succeeding in it against all odds.