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Video & Audio Center Showcasing Events, Brands

SANTA MONICA, CALIF. –

Video & Audio Center
wants to create CE retail excitement, with special events
and a department store approach that showcases top
brands

But Video & Audio Center is no newcomer. It is
30-year-old mainstay in the Southern California market
owned by brothers Mayer Akhtarzad, president, and Joseph
Akhtarzad, VP, with its headquarters store here,
another location in Agoora Hills and a new store that
opened Labor Day weekend in Lawndale that serves the
greater Torrance area.

Joseph Akhtarzad said that since the beginning, “We
have always highlighted top quality lines and top-ofthe-
line products. We have introduced a lot of technology
over the years, [including] the first Sony OLED, the
Sharp 108-inch LCD, and others.”

More recently, Video & Audio Center held a pre-launch
for the Sony Tablet S last month that was covered by local
media outlets and drew crowds to the new Torrancearea
store.

Tom Campbell, a well-known industry retail veteran
who has hosted plenty of these events in the past for a
variety of chains, just joined as company spokesman and
corporate advisor. He noted, “We expected to sell a few,
but we sold 37 Sony Tablet S units and had a long line of
people waiting to see the product.” Customers returned
to the store to pick up the products on the official launch
date of the Tablet S, and since then the chain has been
sold out of the line.

“This has to send a strong message to [the industry]
that consumers still want something new, something different,”
Campbell said.

Expect more events from Video & Audio Center as the holiday season approaches, which will highlight notable
products and technologies to create good oldfashioned
retail excitement.

The company also operates Just One Touch, a
well-known custom-installation operation founded in
2000 with a showroom based here. Just One Touch
is also part of each Video and Audio Center retail location,
“just like Magnolia at Best Buy,” said Joseph
Akhtarzad.

Video & Audio Center has been a member of the
Home Technology Specialists of America (HTSA) buying
group for close to a decade. Asked the size of the
company, Akhtarzad did not answer directly, but just
said, “We could be in the top 20 or 30 in [TWICE’s]
Top 100 CE Retailers list, and are one of the largest
independent Sony retailers in Southern California.”

When it comes to brands, Video & Audio Center has
a somewhat unique approach – branded departments,
which began three years ago. As Joseph Akhtarzad explained,
“We got the idea from department stores. They
are separated by brands. When we carry a manufacturer
we try to carry everything, from A to Z.”

He noted, “When you walk into our stores you don’t
see a wall of TVs. It is like, for us, the Consumer Electronics
Show. When a consumer comes in the store
and wants a Sony, they go to that department. There is
no confusion.”

As a result, while there are “over 150 TVs on display
at our stores, the way the boutiques [branded areas]
are designed, you don’t realize that.”

The chain works very closely with vendors such as
Sony, Samsung, LG, Sharp and others when it holds
a special event or around the holidays, with supplier
reps on hand to answer questions. “We have extremely
close relationships with our suppliers and are true partners,”
Akhtarzad said, noting that it is not always about
the best deal.

One of the keys to the success of his business, especially
during a troubled economy, is that “we believe in changes, daily if need be, and we can implement
them right away. We make decisions quickly based on
market conditions.”

What is also notable is that the chain carries “a full
line … of what we think is in demand to get customers
to our store.”

While online sales are important for Video & Audio
Center, customer feedback and word of mouth comes
from the retail sales floor and also from its custom installation
business. “While customers can research
product online and buy from us online, we hope they
come to our stores,” Akhtarzad said.

There they will find a trained sales force “that knows
about the features and benefits of individual TVs, for instance.
And we can provide installation of TVs,” as well
as home automation and home networking systems, so
consumers “don’t have to worry about it.”

He added, “If we do our business right we will get
feedback from clients, and often their friends call us.
You have to provide the right service and the right mix
of products – from e-readers, tablets, iPod and iPads
to even cordless phones. We want to be the one place
for all our customers’ electronics needs.”

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