SANTA MONICA, CALIF. – While many other consumer electronics retailers struggled under the weight of declining TV demand and price points in recent months, the three-store chain Video & Audio Center enjoyed record-breaking returns over the last two quarters.
The A/V specialty merchant is enjoying some of its best returns in its 34-year-history right now.
The chain’s principal Joseph Akhtarzad said the success has been predicated on his company’s commitment to selling Ultra HD TV – a category some TV retailers have been reluctant to support due to high retail tickets. But Video & Audio Center has been recognized by manufacturers as one of the top independent A/V chains in the country for sales of Ultra HD TVs.
This week, the chain is taking its support of Ultra HD to the next level by showcasing some of the latest consumer display technology in a booth at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention in Las Vegas.
Joseph Akhtarzad, Video & Audio Center president, said the retail showcase, at a trade show devoted to professional broadcasters and technicians, was created to make a statement about the chain’s commitment to Ultra HD technology. It is also hoped to generate sales from early adopters looking to outfit their homes with the latest gear capable of displaying current and future native 4K content.
Akhtarzad told TWICE, “We found out that a lot of the people who attend NAB are directors, producers and other professionals working with 4K productions.”
As some other retailers and consumers continue to suffer from Ultra HD sticker shock, Akhtarzad said his mission has always been to fulfill the demands and desires of the early adopters who want the best in state-of-the-art gear, and the chain has become a high-tech “destination point” as a result.
At NAB, Akhtarzad said he expects to show Ultra HD TVs from Sony, LG, Samsung and others, starting at 49 inches and ranging to 85 inches. He will also have an Ultra HD camera in the booth to show attendees what a live 4K image looks like up close and in person.
Among the booth highlights will be the unveiling of Sony’s new 79-inch 4K Ultra HD TV, Akhtarzad said, adding he plans to attract a big crowd through prize giveaways and other attention-getting vehicles to draw interest to the technology.
Akhtarzad acknowledged that one of the reasons for his NAB investment was the fact that many of Video & Audio Center’s Ultra HD TV sales so far have come from Hollywood-area broadcasting and production professionals wanting to view their work at home or in the office in the highest quality possible.
“Our mission is always to bring the latest technology and never be afraid of the tag price,” Akhtarzad proclaimed.
As a result of the chain’s success to date, manufacturers and competitors alike are taking cues on how to properly merchandise and demo Ultra HD equipment.
Akhtarzad said that instead of keeping Ultra HDTVs isolated in a special part of his stores, Video & Audio Center mixes Ultra HD TV models in alongside FullHD and even HD displays to showcase the performance benefits. Some 40 percent of Video & Audio Center’s floor space is now devoted to Ultra HD TV.
Akhtarzad said that despite the hightech awareness demographics in his store’s markets, so far, there is very little awareness among consumers to what Ultra HD is and does.
Countering, Tom Campbell, Video & Audio Center corporate director, said the retailer is adding statements in its television commercials, saying, “A fourtimes sharper Ultra HD TV could be in your home tonight.”
Since starting the spots, Campbell said “store traffic counts of people looking to see a 4K Ultra HD demonstration are way up.”
Once in the store, Akhtarzad said, it usually doesn’t take much to convince someone of Ultra HD’s merits. “Their jaws drop,” he said.
Beyond the set sale, Akhtarzad’s customers typically want the peripherals to bring the full experience home. As an example, attachment rates for Sony’s 4K Ultra HD Media Player with a Sony 4K Ultra HD TV have been running better than 90 percent, he added.