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New York IT Destination Expands Into Custom A/V Arena

For the past 14 years, DataVision has been midtown Manhattan’s go-to place for the latest and greatest in PC and Apple gear and support.

Thanks to top-flight service, an expansive assortment and 35,000 square feet of prime real estate on Fifth Avenue, the independent dealer has won accolades from vendors, the media and its customers, who range from local residents and small businesses to celebrities and out-of-towners.

The storefront itself draws several thousand visitors daily plus myriad special events. The latter, often tied to the nearby DigitalLife consumer expo, have been staged by Intel (for the launches of Centrino and Core 2 Duo processors), Amp’d Mobile, iSkin and others. Together with its online business, which represents upwards of 40 percent of sales, the company, a top-ten preferred Apple reseller, is approaching $100 million in annual revenue, said CEO and co-founder Jimmy Garson.

But rather than rest on their laurels, Garson and partner Albert Liniado, president, embarked on a bold expansion strategy last fall that has carried the company into the custom A/V arena. Like its neighbor to the north, Manhattan’s RCS Experience, DataVision leveraged its installation and service heritage to bring in premium flat-panel and home audio lines, revamped its showroom, and joined Home Entertainment Source, the specialty A/V and custom install buying group, while remaining anchored to its core IT business.

According to Garson, DataVision’s unique positioning gives it an advantage in the marketplace as the worlds of IT and A/V continue to converge. “Other A/V custom guys are afraid of digital technology,” he told TWICE. What’s more, “Since we straddle both sides, we can buy through the installer and retail channels. All the vendors for whom retail was the plague are coming to us, because service was always a big part of the business.”

To accommodate the new lines and present them in a compelling manner, DataVision, under the aegis of top lieutenant Lorenzo Traina, completely redesigned its 11,000-square-foot third floor, replacing the books, software, peripherals and accessories with a newly christened Home Theater Expo department. The space features a 100-panel LCD room, a Sony room, a custom home theater room, and seven mini-vignettes, with 250 TVs on display in total. Twelve TV brands are represented, including LG, Olevia, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and Westinghouse, while audio lines run the gamut from Infinity, Jama and JBL to Earthquake, Snell and Speakercraft.

DataVision also offers seating by Berkline, power supplies by Monster, mounts by Chief and Peerless, music and DVD managers from Escient, and what it describes as the largest selection of Blu-ray and HD-DVD titles in all of New York City.

The retailer’s installation unit employs eight full-time CEDIA-certified installers and will outsource jobs to third-party partners as needed.

On a personal note, DataVision is raising funds to fight childhood cancer and provide family counseling following the recent loss of Liniado’s daughter Stella. To that end, The Stella Liniado Rainbow Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization, is accepting 100 percent tax deductible donations at 716 Ave. N, Brooklyn, N.Y., 11230.