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Tweeter Unveils Next-Generation Prototype

Tweeter Home Entertainment Group has seen the future of consumer electronics retailing, and realized that vision last month in this Las Vegas suburb.

It is here that the high-end A/V chain unveiled its first Tweeter Entertainment Architects store, a 10,000-square-foot retail lab and prototype, elements of which will be integrated into all Tweeter stores over the next 18 months.

The venue, described by president/CEO Jeff Stone as “the future of the Tweeter brand,” represents a 180-degree departure from the industry’s traditional stack-’em-high, let-’em-fly approach to merchandising. Instead, the concept shop emphasizes solution selling by presenting a series of prepackaged home theater, distributed media and home automation systems, all built around Hewlett-Packard’s Digital Entertainment Center PCs, Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 operating system and Lifeware’s Media Center Edition software.

The airy, spacious prototype — designed to attract the female and designer-architect markets — features living room, kitchen, bedroom, wet bar and home office vignettes; a design consultation area; a 12-volt and marine department; and a state-of-the-art home theater replete with a Sensio 3D video system and D-Box full-motion stadium seats.

“We used to sell black boxes,” Stone told TWICE at the store’s trade preview during CES. “Now we’re becoming a services company because convergence and digital technology is happening today.”

The store will be joined by a second prototype that’s set to open in nearby Henderson in three months. Tweeter chose the Las Vegas area as its testing ground due to its affluent demographics, fast growth, absence of any prior Tweeter presence and the city’s advanced broadband infrastructure.

Chief financial officer Joe McGuire said the concept shops are not much more expensive to build than present generation Tweeter stores, and that the company will study their profitability and the customer experience over the next six months before making tweaks or bringing elements of the prototypes into its store base.