There was a lot of news last month about Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods. Why did they make the purchase, what is their strategy, etc?
Over the years, Amazon has modified and shortened its company motto from the sales of books online to “Our vision is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online,” and now shortened even further to “We seek to be Earth’s most customer-centric company.”
So, with Whole Foods acquired, will you still want to make the trip to the store to squeeze melons, or have them shipped right to your door?
The same can be said for high-end audio stores. I’ve heard umpteen store owners complaining of customers “kicking the tires;” tying up sales people for hours on end, getting as much advice as possible and listening to the finest equipment, only to go home, research and buy the kit on the internet for a few dollars cheaper. Worse, many manufacturers are complicit, endlessly damaging their distributors — and in turn, their dealer network.
My point is not to discourage you from finding good deals on the internet, but to value the knowledge that the very best high-end audio dealers bring to the table — and in the long term, how you can benefit from that knowledge. The internet landing page cannot discuss (and know) your musical preferences, your room size, your favoured topology (tubes, solid state, etc.), and most importantly, the synergy of great equipment playing nicely with each other.
A problem, hopefully from the distant past, is the attitude of some snooty high-end stores. Oh, the stories! Many have been guilty of discouraging youngsters, especially. The best stores will be encouraging towards young people on a strict budget — you’ve got to start sometime, right? Like a good car salesman, they want to sell you your first car, and also your second, third, and so on.
We are very lucky in Toronto to have some of the finest high-end stores in North America. In fact, I attended a big party for the owner of one of my store suggestions this weekend — her 40th year in the business. It was packed with the most adoring, happy, long-time customers.
So, if you’re in the market to begin your high-end journey (and it will be a journey), the following five stores sell all the top gear, have incredibly knowledgeable sales teams, and will guide you towards the perfect purchase that will suit your budget, musical and electronic tastes, and will fit your room size.
In no particular order:
Of course, money is an object, and nothing falls out of bed faster than the value of new high-end gear. Worse than cars. But, don’t let that scare you. Two good, reputable sites to check for excellent value in used equipment are:
Happy shopping. Let me know your system, and your wants and needs in the comments.