You’re An Independent Dealer, Which Companies And What Products Would You Represent?

Hey All!
 I live in an average sized city where there are two brick and mortar audio stores. One is modest in both budget and square footage but has great customer service, offers quality products from entry level to high end and works with customers on price. The other one is a mega store with a huge inventory from entry level to very high end, has great customer service but won’t budge on price and wants to be the biggest store on the east coast. Personally, I like rooting for the underdog. So today, I stopped in and chatted with the salesperson at the small store, who I’ve come to know over these many years. He was telling me that the bigger store was carrying the same brands and products that they’ve been carrying but that they were buying inventory in mass quantity. And, that the only way for the small store to separate themselves from the mega store would be to represent companies and products that the mega store can’t or won’t showcase. However, which companies and which products, this is the question. The first thing of course that popped into my mind was to regurgitate everything favorable that I had read about on these forums and from the reviews on 6 Moons, What HiFi, Stereophile, etc….But I stopped myself and I’m glad I did and I said, ‘well there’s certainly a lot to choose from.’ And this is where you come in. So, if you were the owner of a smaller (think size of an average three bedroom house), independent brick a mortar audio store, what companies and products would you ideally choose to feature in your showroom? As I mentioned previously, anything (pragmatic) from entry level to high end. Let’s say for clarification that the $50,000.00 McIntosh subwoofer would be thought of as too extravagant. Eventually, my hope is to direct my dealer friend to this post as a means of inspiration.




From experience with several small dealers that have built up a sizable / respectable business over the 20 years.




Audio Research




Sonus Faber







Most of these brands are not available to just anyone, they have only one retailer covering a territory. You must prove yourself to them, that you have integrity, provide great support, and have volumes to justify their giving you the territory. It takes years to develop a retail outlet of high end brands.

It also takes money. Often you have to purchase upfront lots of product. So as a part of developing a store you need to develop a cash flow to support purchases in advance of sales.


One of the real keys to success is to have it in stock… the sale if a $10K component is having it in stock. So, success can be contingent on carrying half a million or more of inventory.


My friend has higher level brands… but it took years to get them. Companies like Boulder, TechDAS, Linn… they don’t just sell to anyone. You have to prove you are worthy… I am not kidding… this takes work.


He better be willing to work his butt off… to be passionate about what he is doing and willing to invest 70 hours a week for the next ten years to get going.

@ghdprentice The store I’m referring to has been around for at least thirty five years now. They are a top selling Martin Logan dealer. Focal, Totem, Naim, Bryston, Rogue Audio, Rega, ClearAudio, Audioquest, Straightwire, Wireworld and others. I know they select certain products from the dealers they represent, they don’t showcase everything however they can order anything from those companies. Audio is a tough business.



JBL, EV, B&W, Klipsch, Paradigm, Yamaha, Bryston, Panasonic (including Teac, Tascam  and Technics products), Carver, Crown, MeyerSound, Roland, Mogami, dw, Kurzweil, Gibson,  Fender, Taylor, M-Audio, DBx, Behringer, Furman, Shure, AudioTechnica, Zildigan...

Perhaps I should've listed everything alphabetically, but you got an idea...


Anything but 'audiophile mass market'.  No Rega, Rotel, B&W, Dynaudio, Luxman, ARC, McIntosh, Sonus Faber etc. This is all boring stuff, let that megastore handle it.


So you're suggesting that he carry musical instruments too? By the way, you misspelled Zildjian. 


That is a plan. HiFi Audio; Pro Audio; Band Equipment..

There was identical store in NY Upstate called Toys From The Attic. 

The aforementioned independent store was a long time McIntosh dealer but dropped them. I guess they felt like McIntosh was going off the deep end with their prices and their silly products such as a turntable with a built in phono amp.

McIntosh, VAC, Accuphase, B&W, Martin Logan, Sonus Faber. Goofyfoot is right about the McIntosh turntable... it's ugly. In General who wouldn't like those blue Vu meters on their amps.

Do you really think it is that simple??? 
I’ll give some vendors credit and say when they tell me “too saturated in your area” that is legit but quite honestly there is a monopoly going on in every city when it comes to high end brands! Some dealer reps are just rude and ignore you, some are scared to upset the 800lb Gorilla that just happens to be ordering tens of thousands from them in your backyard. Overall it comes down to volume. If you can’t place a $50K order then don’t even bother with the elite brands! While I appreciate you giving me the ability to vent I cannot imagine you really think a dealer can just carry whatever they would like… not that simple! 

I'd recommend offering some tube amps and tube preamps and setting up an excellent listening room to compare them with solid state and Class D. That would be a rare gift of audio learning, hopefully appreciated enough to generate sales, and something the big box stores won't do. And then sell upgrade tubes. Also, join with the most popular quality wine retailer in your city to host wine-tasting and listening/audio club parties.

"The Times ,they are a changin"....Rosso Fiorentino, Audio Hungary,  Buchardt, Aavik, Borresen, Mo Fi, Hegel, Audio Note, Clearaudio, Hana, Musical Fidelity, Audio GD, and of cource....McIntosh and Luxman.

Retail audio is certainly no walk in the park.

Just seems like a fun way to use a bank line of credit.

Carrying known  brands often comes with minimum annual volume purchase requirements. Then there's moving the product, along with paying the bill.

You might be surprised the real story of why a dealer suddenly "drops" a brand.

Not for the weak.

Running a storefront and online marketing/presence and staff...

Yeah right....dream on


Something is wrong in the way things work. As a consequence of it we will get less choice, higher prices and worse service.


Being an audio dealer is the very best way to make a small fortune from a large fortune.  

+1@bpoletti there's the saying that goes "how do you make 1 million $$ in hi-end audio? Start with 2 million $$"


(Dealer disclaimer) 

Take advantage of the increase of LP sales and open a store selling only new factory-sealed LP'S . Along with turntables, tone arms, cartridges and phono stages. Offer free alignment with every TT and cartridge sold.

@mbmi - good brands all, though Buchardt just sells direct, so I don't think you'd be stocking his speakers! 😊

These are brands that I listened to and purchased over the last 4 decades from smaller brick-and-mortar audio shops in my area—I wish they were all still around:

Ansuz, Analysis Plus, Ayre, Audio Physic, Audio Research, ATC, BAT, Cardas, Magnepan, Vienna Acoustics, ProAc, REL, Vandersteen, VTL, Wireworld, XLO, YBA  


Can I play? (rubs hands together)


Audio Note (UK)

Holo Audio

Legacy Audio

Pass Labs

Von Schweikert



432 Evo


Audio Quest

Atma Sphere

Octave Audio


first and foremost, he should sell stuff he believes in (and at several different price points).  i would also imagine it would be helpful to have only one or two distributors, rather than 10.  


@goofyfoot: Challenge accepted!


- Eminent Technology LFT-8b and 8c loudspeakers

- SoundLabs electrostatic loudspeakers

- Sanders ESL speakers and amplifiers

- Kuzma tonearms and turntables

- London phono pickups

- Degritter record cleaner

- Kimbre Kable

- Townshend Audio Seismic Isolation products

- Vicoustic diffusers

- ASC Tube Traps and Wall Damp products

- Analogue Productions, Speaker’s Corner, Intervention, and other audiophile reissue label LP’s

As a 40+ year retired peddler of decent audio gear, here’s are my comments for your friend:

My favorite church reader board displayed the message: "A good friend stabs you in the front." This isn’t going to be gentle, but your friend needs to be put in a headlock and taken to the carpet.

A rep/friend of mine were discussing a dealer who had been in business for 30 years down the street and had become dormant/irrelevant for quite some time. His comment: "He’s got one year of experience -- 30 times!" Reminds me of your friend.

"Retailers" have to reinvent themselves continuously. The goal of "lighting them up" when customers cross your threshold is obtainable and sustainable. If you’re creative, and want to work hard enough. A guy who asks a non-industry friend about what brands to sell probably should be doing something else at this point in his life. He may have crossed the event horizon where there is no escaping the black hole of business failure. The gravitational forces may be so strong that not even high resolution audio can escape it.  It sounds like your friend was good at riding the wave of the glory days of "consumer" audio, but doesn't know how to crate his own momentum when the waves crashed on the beach..  A poster once  read: "When there's no wind -- row!!"

I’ve seen the prostitution of "specialty audio" brands up close and personal throughout the years. It is ugly, heartbreaking, and unprofitable. It also converts the very fine people working for you into mere brokers of audio gear, rather than audio consultants. You need those brands for promotion to build traffic, to hit "popular" price points, or have some brand familiarity with newbee customers. I can also say that once those brands are established at Big Box, the illusion will be that they will always get a better deal there. I am certain that a half price sale on those items at my store would not have been a traffic builder. I am also certain that 50% off on bad-sounding equipment is still

Here are some basics:

There are transaction-basedl customers and relationship-based customers. The transaction-based customer fears not getting the best deal that day. The relationship-based customer fears not buying the right product from the right dealer. It’s good to know the difference. Make sure you are overprepared to service the latter.

People spend money on what their attention is on. ANY excuse to get in contact with your customers is a good one. I required my salespeople to do immediate followups to ANY sale (even $5) to see if the customer is okay with the purchase, needs technical assistance, etc. I also REQUIRED 6-month follow ups. This can get a little tricky because it is not allowed in some areas. My rule was that there could NEVER be an attempt to sell anything. Just a good will call to see how they are getting along with the item. There are 3 benefits for the dealer here: 1) customers are genuinely appreciative of the concern for their well being, 2) their attention is back on hifi for a moment. They may have had root canals, back to school, transmission rebuilt, new bike, etc in those past 6-months and thought very little about hifi. For a brief moment in time they are thinking about how much that like (or dislike) their audio system. And, 3) every now in then, someone will ask: "Hey, I was thinking about putting sound out on the patio. Do you do that?" In that case, you can load up a couple of rock speakers and inground sub and be there while there’s still a head on the beer they just poured.

Service? Keeping old gear with a strong emotional attachment from going into the dumpster can be rewarding and profitable.

Differentiate. Make sure the customer understands that EVERY aspect of your business is superior to Big Box in every way.

Research the brands you want to carry. As mentioned by others, he may not qualify for a number of reasons. A store dominated by "popular" brands may be a disqualifier. Your dealer friend should be fluent in "legit hifi brands" by now, but if not it’s up to him to do the research, fall in love with a group of (protentially profitable) components, and bursting at the seams to tell the world about them. If not, what’s the point?

The profound statement: Learn/teach your staff how to use this. I call this the "profound statement" -- something you say that makes the customer want to hear the rest of your pitch. When asked about a Big Box brand, a comment might be: "The only similarity between (my amp, and theirs) is that that they both have power cords in the box and on/off switches. Everything else is different." Or, "You can’t overspend on a source component." Or, "Are you wearing Depends? I don’t want to be responsible for what happens when you sit in front of these speakers." You have to know your audience here. Some react differently to various communication styles (and, humor).

Sustain the "hifi culture". Pretty self-explanatory, but critical. It never stops. Keep it fresh, and exciting.

If none of that works, I’ve heard that putting an EV charging station in front of your business can be beneficial. Spin a record while you’re charging your Tesla?


@waytoomuchstuff just to clarify, my friend did not ask me for advice on what brands to carry. Don't know how you got that notion.

Yea I have to agree that dealing all those super-precious pieces is definition of making from large fortune small fortune, because statistically it's extremely hard to educate crowd to purchase systems that require a mortgage and lenders don't give much for that expendable stuff. 

Knowing market is the burden of starting a high-end business, unless you're a child of the wealthy and want to play with high-end sound opening up your own hi-end store on dad's wealth and see if you'll be able to profit a-bit.


"He was telling me that the bigger store was carrying the same brands and products that they’ve been carrying but that they were buying inventory in mass quantity. And, that the only way for the small store to separate themselves from the mega store would be to represent companies and products that the mega store can’t or won’t showcase. However, which companies and which products, this is the question"

I guess I was unsure who was asking the question.  I assumed it was the dealer, or the dealer's representative.  I may have incorrectly connected the dots here.  

Best of luck to you, and your dealer friend.

I’m the noob and underdog in this game. I started my dealership in April 2022, so it’s been less than 1.5 years. I’ve been selling used equipment due to my own audiophile gear swapping craze for years, and once I got to a good place, I decided to turn it into a business so I could help others. There have been a ton of learnings, some of which I’ll share below. But I’ll say one thing above others - being a high end audio dealer is not the top choice for those who want to make a quick buck. The only thing that keeps me going is passion for the hobby, which most dealers don’t have, and the relationship-building that @waytoomuchstuff describes in ways that it results in a customers’ happiness in stages. Without those two, I’d gladly take my investment back as it’s been an incredibly grueling road.

To get back on @ghdprentice and others have touched on some of the challenges of the brands one would represent - Some of the most coveted brands may have only one distributor in a country, and that distributor may be the only dealer. Audio Group Denmark is a good example of this, where Next Level Hifi has been the distributor for years, but more recently they have eliminated a number of dealers from their network so that they can better control client experience and margins. Some of this is due to dealers selling gear at rock bottom prices to get by, and that is understandable - but this is often due to the overpriced retail value that many manufacturers warrant.

For many conscientious manufacturers and distributors, territory is still very real. This in itself limits the number of brands available to me. For example, being in Minnesota, Audio Perfection is a well-known dealer that has been around for 30 years or so, and they have held the keys to Wilson and Audio Research. While a relationship with Wilson would warrant a demonstration of millions in revenue, Audio Research is a company I might consider, pending the outcome of their financial situation in the coming year. That said, Audio Research will likely not let me deal for them because of Audio Perfection - or more so, if Audio Perfection found out that one day I started carrying Audio Research, they would likely threaten Audio Research and disable me from being a dealer. So that territory limits brand availability.

There are many brands that are more widely available, but other challenges accommodate those. As some mentioned above, ubiquity isn’t always a good thing because a smaller dealer will be up against bigger dealers or chains that are able to offer more - bigger discounts, better return policies, etc. For one example, I literally had a potential customer come to me last year inquiring about a streamer and asked me to match the lowest price quoted to them by TMR, which was well below what it should be selling for new, along with a 60-day no questions asked money back guarantee offered by The Music Room. I politely declined and encouraged him to go with the offers he received from the big boys. Keep in mind that the companies who offer more widely available products also generally offer smaller margins, and it crunches a dealer at both ends when competing with bigger dealers.

As such, I’ve kept the list of brands that I support very curated, and I’ve made conscious decisions that I only invest in:

1) Brands and products that I can truly stand behind - sonically, visually, and from a customer service capacity. When I first became a dealer for T+A, Aurender, Synergistic Research and DH Labs, it was because after many years of personal experimentation, those companies represented pinnacles of performance for me. I already owned their reference gear based on my own advocacy, and I simply invested downward to further populate my floor. I could already speak to their performance because I had years of personal experience with a number of their products in comparison to others.

2) Brands and products that are from manufacturers or distributors who are genuinely interested to help me as a dealer to flourish. Continuing on from the story above and perhaps the most important part of it, all of those brands have sales leaders that saw me coming to market with a fresh approach, leading with consultancy and relationship-building first in the intimacy of my own home. They were all behind trying to help me create something special, and even if I am not leading their sales quotas (not even close!), they believe I am a positive extension of their brand. Sometimes, when asking nicely, I would get equipment demos shipped to me based on customer interest, or even personal interest, so they could aid me in a sale of something I did not have to demonstrate on hand or to enable me to learn about. Most manufacturers and distributors won’t offer that as an option. Also, as a new business that has been funded organically, I reinvest just about all of my profits in one of two ways - I either expand upon a brand I am already carrying or invest into a new line. The challenge here is that investing into many of the high-end lines require a minimum buy in - sometimes equaling over $100,000 out of a dealer’s pocket ( keep in mind I started my business with $50,000 last year, so those situations are very difficult for me). Being able to work with manufacturers that are willing to hear my growth plan, help me carry their lines in a test-and-learn approach with a commitment to further invest in other products for my floor as growth is demonstrated is a must have. I am especially thankful for the distributors that have extended this type of relationship with me.

3) Brands and products that deliver. While @ghdprentice mentioned, having things in inventory is key, this is not prudent for many small dealers like me because nobody wants to be stuck with equipment they do not sell. From a tax benefit perspective, inventory cannot be written off, whereas display items can. As such, this puts me into a position, like many other dealers, to carry as little inventory as possible and rely on manufacturers and distributors that have excellent, if not plainly satisfactory fulfillment services. This is still something I am learning from as I have been burned by a few distributors in this past year of not having some of my orders fulfilled, having a customer or two cancel as a result, and leaving me to be the helpless punching bag in the middle. Never again, and some of the brands that I list on my site will change in the coming months. The fulfillment of any manufacturer or distributor is a direct reflection of the dealer, and for me wanting to put customer experience first, I cannot afford to support brands who cannot reasonably deliver to customers. Even if a product may take 1-2 months to get to a customer, it is okay if those time commitments are upheld. But if production or shipment is delayed for inexcusable reasons, it is obviously a risk in my book that I will mitigate moving forward.

4) Brands and products that satisfy customers based on where they are in their audio journey. This next story is a bit off-topic, but hopefully worthwhile and ties back into this point. I originally became a dealer because I want to help others achieve what I’ve achieved for myself. I originally envisioned helping younger generations, in their 20s and 30s, to discover a newfound appreciation for two-channel audio. After all, if we don’t encourage them to carry the torch, this industry will die. But what I quickly found out is 1) They need a LOT of hand holding and time investment, 2) do not have money to spend, and 3) are most likely to be in the market for the mass-market mid-fi gear that I describe above that has small margins. No wonder there is a lack of appreciation of the hobby for this generation! It is almost impossible from both sides to make it successful. That said, while much of the gear I sell is beyond mid-fi, I make conscious decisions to work with customers of varying living situations and budgets. I carry Vivid Audio because I think they make some of the absolute best speakers. I carry Scansonic MB-B line because I think they make some of the best speakers for the money. Getting a customer to hear what can be done in a mid-to-large room with a $4K Scansonic MB-2.5B, which is a small, slim floorstander that takes up no more than a bookshelf speaker on stands paired with a $6.5K Cambridge EDGE A integrated amplifier is a thing of beauty. Simple, full, holographic, soulful, and transparent, sounding with synergy systems with another zero to its budget cannot attain -- and no sub needed for a larger room! Most of my customers are still in the 55-80 year demographic and do not consider portability to be a constraint applied to their system, but younger folks surely want to keep things as simple as possible. It’s important to be able to deliver on both of those while maintaining the integrity of the performance, and that requires the products I carry to be very special in one way or another. There is no ’filler’ in my product offering.

5) Brands and products that invest in themselves. As a dealer, I should not be responsible for handling much of the marketing positioning for their products. When they bring products to market, they will have hopefully understood the market opportunity - the audience need, a projection of demand, a relevant positioning and price point for the performance, and how the product fits into the rest of their portfolio. If not, I do offer services to them to improve this experience, and at times the brands I carry have taken me up on these, and together we have released improvements or new products altogether that I am very proud of. If they are not willing to invest, take feedback and consultation from their dealers and customer base, in order to improve their marketing or product performance, it will only show flaws through lackluster customer satisfaction and limited revenue stream in the future. Innovation is not about putting revolutionarily new stuff out there, but more so improving what is available to people such that we place greater value into these things when they are released. It all drives back to meaningfulness, and I want to make sure that everything I carry can have meaning in my customers’ lives.

While I don’t just plainly list brands (I did mention a few of the ones I carry, and I do carry others and aspire to take on a few more in the coming years), hopefully this gives you some insight into the dynamics a dealer needs to face when evaluating them. Of course, if a dealer just wants to make money, or doesn’t carry passion for the hobby or customer, many of these considerations are compromised. But it’s never as simple as just "I would carry this brand because I think it’s the best."

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading, and if you’ve got any reactions, please share them as I’d be happy to hear them. I do very much appreciate the perspective of this community and the great relationships I’ve built with a few of you over the past two years, and I look forward to continuing to learn from you and be of service to you.

All the best,



Lots of sage advice and insight. Thanks for sharing.


That is a very interesting and eye opening post.

I’m aware of your interest in bringing younger music lovers into the two channel audiophile world and your long standing passion for this hobby. When I look at trends in the motion picture industry over the last fifty years, we have gone from well told, slowly developing stories to fast pace chaotic scripts. My older teen daughters listen to music when in the car, or as a soundtrack to a video. They resist sitting and listening. They tell me that this isn’t the way people listen to music anymore, because they listen while on the go. I believe that is why most of my local audio shops have positioned themselves as home theater experts that also carry two channel equipment. Some have posted in these forums that multi-channel provides a more immersive experience. So, it seems to me that the real challenge is getting young people to sit and listen to a good system. I’ve been able to do this with one of my daughters and she was pretty impressed with the difference between my system and her AirPods. I was shocked when she asked if she could listen to music with her friends. Streaming is a pretty simple task on my system since it just takes flipping one switch. So, how do audio shops get those under 65yo to come into their shops and sit down and listen? In our area, I think the answer is to be home theater specialist.

@vonhelmholtz I won’t go into detail on my thoughts on how to get younger generations involved with 2 channel in the first place -- doing that is a lot of effort if they aren’t already interested! I instead tend to focus on opportunities with those that are younger if they have already expressed some form of interest. In those cases, this is where I value taking in great trades from fellow customers towards new gear. While I won’t just take anything in trade, I do consider worthwhile ones that I can offer to people who are looking for great value, and hopefully convert them with a single piece that transforms their experiences and understanding of two channel.

Since I work out of my own home, I have to be very careful about who I invite for a listening session. It doesn’t make sense for me to want everyone to come by, so cautiously screen people through phone or text first. I enjoy posting used equipment on Facebook Marketplace, though there are a share of shady people and scammers that respond. Other online marketplaces like Audiogon or USAM with local only sales are sometimes helpful as well. My most meaningful moments in the last few years have been at times selling a used turntable/cartridge for $1K, ensuring that the 28yo purchasing it sits down to hear what it is capable of in a reference level system. I ended up spending two hours with that person, who was immediately reveling in the performance, and taught him how to perceive the sound as it came to him, and what components were responsible for doing what. It reminded me of the way Steve Cohen from In Living Stereo did that for me in NYC when I was that age. It is the start of a new chapter for that individual, and a memory I hope he retains for as long as I’ve had the one with Steve.

I’m hoping there are just enough of the younger ones that then can be advocates, though I’m fairly certain that’s quite a long shot!

There’s a coupe of business metrics that caught my attention over the years that I’d like to share.

98% of very satisfied customers will do business again at the establishment. I like the odds here. Certainly makes it worth the effort to keep customers happy.

A 5% increase in customer loyalty doubles the lifetime return on investment. I like the math here, too. New customers are essential for business growth. But, they are very expensive to attract, and increasingly difficult to sell to. Existing customers and referrals build retirement income. You need both. Once those new prospects are converted to customers, then they will pay lifelong dividends if treated right (not ignored).

Seems this conversation has taken a discursive direction, which is fine. Anyhow, I wanted to add that on most any post in these forums, people are jumping out of their skins to recommend their favorite brands and products. I just hope you feel the same here. Thanks!

As a long-time audio manufacture representative, I find this discussion both refreshing and enlightening.  I believe in brick and mortar because I never heard anyone say I got the hi-fi bug by any other means than hearing a stereo that did something unexpected.  Setup and service are vital.  It is so refreshing to see Bliss HiFi, Kevtekav, and waytoomuchstuff sharing vital information for success.  My ideal dealer is a small stereo shop driven by passion and love or people.  These tend to be from 1 to 5 guys and gals, banded together by a search for excellence.  We spend way to much time talking about what are the best components and not nearly enough time talking about knowledgeable and experienced dealers.  



JM Lab Utopia line




Add some turntables, dacs and cables and it should do it.

Oh, and amps and the pre-amps EAR-Yoshino, Pass Labs, Atma-Sphere, and perhaps Zesto, VTL, and Manley Labs. For cables Auditorium. And the full Vandersteen line.

One main reason dealers need to be selective is that they have to sell enough of the product of each line they carry to meet the minimum sales figures each company sets for their dealers. Selling 10 of one company’s amplifiers serves the dealer more than selling 5 each from two companies.

My dealer pal Brooks Berdan was a dealer of both Vandersteen (one of Richard’s first) and Wilson. He sold a lot of Vandersteen Model’s 2 and 3, and the Wilson WATT/Puppy and it’s descendants. He could do that because the two lines were not competition for each other; each had it’s own customer base, based on prices (and sound characteristics, of course).

When Vandersteen introduced the Model Five, Brooks told Richard he wanted to sell only the Model’s 2 and 3, not the Five. That was not acceptable to Richard (nor would it have been to me), and Brooks was no longer a Vandersteen dealer. Brooks took that position because each pair of Model Five’s he sold would result in him selling one less pair of Wilson’s; they were direct competition to each other.

At one Vegas CES I attended with Brooks, I sat in at a meeting he took with the sales manager of Wilson, and learned how the hi-fi business works. Apparently keeping Wilson happy was more important to Brooks than was being a Vandersteen dealer. I thought Brooks was making a huge mistake, but what do I know? Brooks was a very successful dealer.

When Brooks passed away, his step-son Brian---who had taken over running the shop as his dad became ill---kept the high standards Brooks had established (Brian grew up learning at his dad’s knee), selling Wilson speakers driven by VTL amps. He eventually branched out on his own, and now sells Wilson and VTL in his shop in Pasadena, Audio Element. Like Brooks, he is a great hi-fi dealer, and like Brooks, an expert at turntable/tonearm/cartridge setup. No, I don’t work for him. 😊



I came to refer to our manufacturer's reps as the "aunts" and "uncles" of the industry.  Not only where they the coolest guys we knew, they also provided guidance and comfort to our sales staff -- sometimes when tney needed it the most.  Reinforcing their career decision to be part of the thing we were doing, providing them with valuable tools and insights, and validating the heck out of them as a person was helpful in ways that count not be measured.  Pat yourself on the back.  You've earned it!

Nothing that could simply be bought factory direct or from companies that occasionally offer steep discounts. That would be a mistake from a biz standpoint.
So for example, KEF, Klipsch and JBL would be excluded.

If making money is the goal, I would think the following might be wise choices:



Audio Note




Pass Labs



Bel Canto

Sonus Faber







@inna Easy for you to say. Suppose the dealer would like to stay in business for more than, say, three months. He needs to carry some of the better, "mass-market" brands in order to build cashflow through sales of reasonably priced systems. It's obvious to me that money is no matter to you, but to most people, especially the younger ones we need to attract to the hobby (and it is a hobby or should be - not some search for "perfection"), a store needs to offer equipment those people can afford. What's so wrong with Rotel, Rega, Music Hall, Denon, Marantz and other brands in that price range if it gets a person excited about what music sounds like through a decent setup? Quit being such a purist and re-enter the real world, please.

@realgoodsound the dealer aforementioned does carry Cambridge Audio and Rega. When I asked about Cambridge Audio, the manager just slightly laughed and said it's directed towards a specific market. I guess that means directed towards the mass majority of whom really can't see spending $3,600.00 for an integrated amplifier.

@vdotman by the way, they carry both of those brands as well as Naim and Bryston. Thanks for chiming in!


Then you can make more selling the Wise. 

You have to be out of your mind to start a standalone audio store without a serious investment, like five million dollars. You have to do theater to attract the wealthy and you show only by appointment. I have a friend that sells and imports audio equipment as a retirement gig. It is fun for him. He sells only by appointment and sells some serious stuff like CS Port and Kuzma. I think he has sold three CS Port turntables with Sapphire arms on them. The Sapphire is quite the piece. He also sells Bricasti and Soulution. For speakers he does Joseph Audio and Franco Serblin.  

I'm a bit surprised that no one has mentioned Conrad-Johnson. I've enjoyed their amplification products for the last fifty or so years.  C-J's products have constantly improved and held their value. Like VAC here in Sarasota, a high quality designer and manufacturer of hand built tube based amplification products.