What’s really hurting the audio hobby?

Maybe it’s the audio dealer experience? Where else can newbies go to get started in this hobby. Isn't that where most of you got hooked?  Let me describe my latest visit to an audio store nearby. I won’t use the store name here, as that’s not the point.  Where I live there is really only one audio store left. That’s strange because I live in a very wealthy community. The Friday after Independence day, me and a friend went to this local audio store.  First time back there in years. We are both looking to upgrade. They have 3 audio rooms and two home theater rooms. The hi-end audio room (the store’s term) was an impressive room with extensive acoustic treatments. Mostly McIntosh gear. Sitting in the listening chair, you are looking at 600 watt Mac monoblocks running some nice tower speakers. A massive JL Audio Gotham subwoofer unit sat front and center facing the only listening chair. The McIntosh turntable was spun first. Sloooowww. It took my friend less than five seconds to point out the TT was running slow. The salesman had started to play Pink Floyd-Wish You Were Here, and it was noticeably slow. So the salesman flipped the switch to 45 rpm. Yes, that happened. He figured out it was too fast all on his own. Fiddle and poke at the TT for a bit and then the salesman said- "I’ll let them know it’s broke". Then he said he would just stream some music from a server. Bass! All you could hear was bass, and NOT good bass. He turned the subs down a little when asked, but all you could hear was tubby, muddy bass. The big tower speakers were overpowered by the sub.  I really wanted to hear what the main speakers alone sounded like, but could not get the salesman to shut off the subs.  On to the mid-fi room (the store’s term). The salesman tried to play us two different turntables. Neither turntable worked. One would not power up, and one was not hooked up to a system at all. Let me point out we didn’t care what source they used. I did say we both run analog and digital sources. Nothing interesting in the mid-fi room the first time through. Next room (no name) was a wall of bookshelf and small towers run by a wide selection of integrated amps. Not bad sound from some. Again, we were told this is “streaming quality audio”. This was the third time he mentioned we were listening to streaming quality audio. I took a guess at what that meant and asked if we could hear higher quality audio. So he took us back to the mid-fi room. He popped in a CD.I could not tell what CD equipment was being used. I think a Rotel integrated was selected. Everything in the cabinet was black faced behind dark glass. Not sure what CD it was either, but since he only had one, I let it go.

Big change! The Paradigm towers were now making good sounds. A big difference from his “streaming quality” demo. Next we switched to a pair of GE Triton 1s. I seriously might get a pair! They make nice sounds. By far the best thing we heard. There was more that happened that contributed to a poor experience, but I will move on.

Here is my point- What would anyone new to the hobby think of that experience? It took two seasoned audio guys pushing the salesman for over an hour before he played anything worth listening to. Would you buy anything from this place. Would you send a newbie in there? Let me know if I'm off base in thinking these audio stores are killing themselves off by the way they do business. Or is it just my misfortune that I have not been in a good dealer showroom in years?

Echo audio is great. Pearl audio is also very good in Portland. The art of audio when they were open was excellent. In Seattle, Definitive Audio always had the best sounding gear. The problem with B&m stores now is that they are used by people to see what gear sounds like and then the person goes home and deals on agon or us audio mart to buy at a discount what they just heard. I stopped going to stores many years ago and started going to audio shows. Over a weekend you can see and hear hundreds of pieces of equipment and then deal directly with the manufacturer or rep to bring in a piece(s) into your home for a 30 day trial to bear it in your system and in your room. 
I spent ten years in the audio industry and loved it- the gear, the music, the retail experience, the customers and the industry people and events. I ran a nine store chain in the NYC area (back in the early / mid 1990's. With that said similar things happened often when salespeople where giving demos and it was embarrassing and made making the sale all that much more difficult. It often boiled down to noone really paying attention to the demo rooms, noticing if gear was plugged in, wired correctly, replaced when a piece was sold off the shelf. 

Nowadays it sure seems that prices are stratospheric for much of the high end gear and that combined with the lack of physical stores for consumers to visit make it less and less attainable. Not to mention many more competing areas for consumers to spend their money. Factor in that many / most people in their 30's/ 40's grew up with little or no exposure to high end or even good audio systems and therefore don't have an interest or passion for the gear. For them streaming on a phone or bluetooth speaker is all they've known. 

Another few years and the industry (unless more affordable brands and products re-emerge) will be potentially sitting where Harley Davidson is- with a customer base that aged out of the market for their product. Hopefully not though!
In the Bay- Sacramento area there are several good dealers.  One such dealer has Audio Note, Quicksilver, Jolida and many other brands, plus consignment and vintage/used gear.  I will go there and often there is one to a half-dozen regulars listening to vinyl while the owner/employee is typically showing someone a system in their price range.

What amazes me is the sound they can get out of a system,  I heard a Jolida DAC/CD, with a Quicksilver integrated and a used pair of of PMC on consignment and was incredibly impressed by the sound given the price range.  Not sure if its their knowledge of systems components, room acoustics, but they always seem to get the best sound out of each component. 

I think there is definitely benefit in component matching and as each component individually have a sonic signature, together that sonic character can change.  Hearing a complete system does have benefits and can save in the long run time and money in component churn.  

The harm I think is when people use the brick and mortar store to research and 'kick the tires', but then use the internet to find the best deal.   Just like all brick and mortar stores, audio has also been hurt by e-shopping.  
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I have not read this entire thread and maybe this has already been addressed, if it has I echo it.  

The economy plays an significant part to all this. I recall approximately 4 years ago I visited a dealer and a realistic conversation lead to my point. He mentioned that out of 300 people that visited his stored maybe one bought something. This is an expensive hobby and makes it hard for most to even consider when there is a family to maintain. Keep in mind that salaries have been stagnet for four decades, but everything else goes up, this is reality. I check out electronics at least every two years and prices are out of control. This is hypothetical but people are not satisfied with just profiting 30-40% like the old days, they go to the extreme in profits of 100-200% These percentages may not be correct but I believe they are within range. Think about it, if you are selling this stuff and putting your best effort and you do not see the return you expect, I can see how it would cause apathy. The reality of this is the more prices go up the less people buy and everyone looses in the end, because we keep these companies alive. Things need to change all around.............