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N.J. Market Heating Up As Independents Open Stores

CE stores are popping up all over the Garden State.

The new blooms belong to 6th Avenue Electronics, which opened its ninth store here earlier this month; Electronics Expo, which recently launched its fifth location; and The TV Warehouse, a new specialty offshoot of click-and-mortar independent Sound City, which makes its debut in June.

Mike Temiz, president of 6th Avenue, attributes Jersey’s CE retail growth to unprecedented demand for advanced TVs and to the implosion of the once-vibrant New York metro area’s independent channel. The demise of such storied retailers as Brick Church, Newmark & Lewis, Tops Appliance City, Crazy Eddie’s and, most recently, The Wiz — often due to over-expansion — has left a vacuum that national chains haven’t yet filled, leaving room for expansion by remaining independents 6th Avenue, Harvey Electronics and P.C. Richard & Son, as well as newcomers like Electronics Expo and TV Warehouse.

To that end, 6th Avenue has set a goal of reaching $200 million in sales in under two years, and has opened two 25,000-square-foot stores in quick succession to achieve it.

The newest unit is the second to employ the company’s next-generation big-box boutique design. The template was first unveiled last November with the opening of the chain’s new flagship store in Paramus, a heavily trafficked retail corridor in northern New Jersey.

Like its predecessor, which also occupies a former Kids “R” Us location, the Jersey City store represents a major departure for the family-run company, which began as a discount house and has since transitioned into a high midtier PRO Group dealer with a burgeoning custom home and auto installation business.

New Jersey residents receive a tax benefit — a 3 percent sales tax, halved from the state’s regular 6 percent rate — thanks to the new store’s location within an Urban Enterprise Zone, which it shares with anchor Lowe’s as well as P.C. Richard.

Meanwhile, Electronics Expo, an A/V specialty start-up that Temiz’s brother Leon launched in 2003, ramped up quickly after a successful start by opening a fifth store just months after ribbon-cutting an 18,200-square-foot unit near 6th Avenue’s flagship in Paramus.

The new 15,500-square-foot facility, located within the new Crosspointe Center shopping mall in Woodbridge, N.J., features the company’s signature store-within-a-store concept, which showcases products in vignette-like settings within vendor-dedicated demo rooms. In addition to major brands, limited distribution lines are also shown throughout the store’s seven home theater areas, which offer bundled product packages ranging from $999 to $150,000.

The PRO Group dealer also carries name brand home theater furniture, seating and decorative furnishings, and offers complete custom installation services.

“We have set out to create the ultimate one-stop solution for all our customers’ electronics and furniture needs,” Temiz said. “The new stores offer a high level of customer care and detail that you just don’t find in traditional consumer electronics outlets.”

Another non-traditional CE outlet is The TV Warehouse, which is set to open its doors this June. An offshoot of Sound City, a $9 million Denville, N.J.-based custom showroom and installer with a vibrant mail order and e-commerce business, the new 4,000-square-foot TV specialty store will focus on discounted DLP, LCD and CRT rear-projection sets and flat-panel plasma and LCD displays by such vendors as Sony, Mitsubishi, Pioneer and Samsung, along with better quality A/V furniture and accessories.

“This is what I wanted to do for years,” said Sound City’s president/CEO Kamel Yassin. “The TV Warehouse will offer over 50 HDTV models in an environment that is easy to navigate and compare quality and pricing versus the competition. By beating the competition on price, and surpassing them on service and product knowledge, we will continue to secure market share with every passing month.”

The Home Entertainment Source (HES) member is looking to open the first TV Warehouse in Fairfield, N.J., and hopes to add three more locations by year’s end. All four units would be fed by Sound City’s 33,000-square-foot distribution center, Yassin said. Sound City itself is a subsidiary of Modern Technology Corp., a business development and acquisition company.