Is the Head Fi Market missing Retail Stores? (in the US)
May 29, 2016 at 12:51 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10

stuck limo

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A friend and I were talking about the exploding headphone market and how cool it'd be to set up a head/hi-fi shop that catered to headphone users. Reason being is that there seems to be very few places around the US to actually audition headphones. They seem to be in abundance in places like Hong Kong, but over in the US they seem almost non-existent. What do you guys think? What is the market for that type of retail store here in the States?
 
Another thing is competing with the online/used market. We'd have to end up selling used gear (which is awesome) and I'm not sure what type of profit is to be made with new gear + overhead / everything else. My idea was to find an existing record store with an extra room and rent it out from them. That way you'd literally be in your customers' market already. They come for records and try out headphones to listen to the records with and leave with something. It's basically free marketing at that point. Maybe rent some wall space or do some consignment deal. Any ideas, thoughts, comments, complaints, etc.?
 
What would YOU like to see in a head-fi shop?
 
May 29, 2016 at 7:47 PM Post #2 of 10

Sophonax

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I'd personally love to have a place to go listen to a wide variety of headphone gear. I think the best thing most of us have are the meets and trade shows, and even then those are only annual events often with less-than-ideal listening conditions. Here in Michigan I've got a local shop that sells Grado and McIntosh, and another shop that used to sell Sennheiser but I'm not sure if they do anymore. There's also Audio Advisor, but I don't know if they have a showroom or if they're internet-only.
 
Some things that may interest you -- check out 32-Ohm Audio:
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/440262/32-ohm-audio-the-alo-retail-store
 
They were around for a few years but closed, so I'm not sure how successful they were. I think they had their own store, rather than renting space out of an existing hi-fi shop like you mention doing.
 
You would also be competing against the likes of this:
 
https://www.thecableco.com/product/new-headphone-lending-library
 
May 29, 2016 at 8:41 PM Post #3 of 10

wnmnkh

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  A friend and I were talking about the exploding headphone market and how cool it'd be to set up a head/hi-fi shop that catered to headphone users. Reason being is that there seems to be very few places around the US to actually audition headphones. They seem to be in abundance in places like Hong Kong, but over in the US they seem almost non-existent. What do you guys think? What is the market for that type of retail store here in the States?
 
Another thing is competing with the online/used market. We'd have to end up selling used gear (which is awesome) and I'm not sure what type of profit is to be made with new gear + overhead / everything else. My idea was to find an existing record store with an extra room and rent it out from them. That way you'd literally be in your customers' market already. They come for records and try out headphones to listen to the records with and leave with something. It's basically free marketing at that point. Maybe rent some wall space or do some consignment deal. Any ideas, thoughts, comments, complaints, etc.?
 
What would YOU like to see in a head-fi shop?

 
1.Population density is far low compared to many Asian market => bad for retails.
 
2.Very hard to compete with online stores => again bad for retails, specially niche markets.
 
You know, this is really traditional audio dealers' job in the first place, but for many reasons, they are not doing great.
 
 
And speaking of that record store.... I remember Koss was planning to make small kiosks around populated areas such as airports, completed with koss headphones and binaural recordings.
 
Unfortunately their financial person's embezzlement happened, and the dream was gone.
 
May 30, 2016 at 5:51 AM Post #4 of 10

jimbobler

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We have a store chain in Sweden called Hifi-Klubben (The Hifi Club) that sell high-end audio equipment and accessories like cables etc. Their selection isn't THAT great, but still better stuff than the bigger electronic chain stores
 
May 30, 2016 at 7:47 AM Post #5 of 10

zombywoof

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No question that a one stop headphone shop would be a dream come true for a lot of us.  No sure if there is enough demand to sustain a business unless you are in a large metropolitan area like NY or Chicago.  In my area, Guitar Center has the widest selection of headphones, and will allow you to try them.  It was the only place I could find where I was able to audition the AKG 553 and T50RP.  They also carry a pretty wide selection of Senn, Beyer, and Shure products.  The big box electronic stores are worthless for headphones.
 
May 30, 2016 at 1:27 PM Post #6 of 10

p4s2p0

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You would probably still have to carry the more popular brands like beats and bose to be profitable though having a wider selection than the big chain stores would be nice
 
May 30, 2016 at 11:59 PM Post #7 of 10

ProtegeManiac

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Quote:
Originally Posted by stuck limo /img/forum/go_quote.gif
A friend and I were talking about the exploding headphone market and how cool it'd be to set up a head/hi-fi shop that catered to headphone users. Reason being is that there seems to be very few places around the US to actually audition headphones. They seem to be in abundance in places like Hong Kong, but over in the US they seem almost non-existent. What do you guys think? What is the market for that type of retail store here in the States?

 
There's one thing you might not be considering here: population density. Apart from NYC there is no city in the US that can match the population density of HK, Singapore, Jakarta, Manila, and KL, all with headphone audio stores, much less suburbs. Metro Manila alone has two such stores in two malls within 1km of each other. That means more potential customers due to the number of people, also housing type since a flat isn't as conducive to speakers as a suburban home. 
 
May 31, 2016 at 12:13 AM Post #8 of 10

Breezy

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Any places around the DFW, Texas areas? I find that many Americans prefer spending a lot of money on speaker systems to headphones and only invest in one rig. The culture is a bit different.
 
May 31, 2016 at 12:22 AM Post #9 of 10

spook76

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Especially at the high end of Head-Fi in the U.S., online stores or a retailer from out of State can take advantage of the Internet moratorium on State sales taxes. I bought my KSE1500s from a retailer in Chicago and saved $300 on the State taxes as it was shipped to my home in Virginia. When I lived in NYC I would buy from an out of State store online simply to avoid the taxes.
 
May 31, 2016 at 12:34 AM Post #10 of 10

ProtegeManiac

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Quote:


Any places around the DFW, Texas areas? I find that many Americans prefer spending a lot of money on speaker systems to headphones and only invest in one rig. The culture is a bit different.

 
It's not culture, it's the preponderance of a different housing type. 
 
US suburbs are large and have these:


 
 
 
By contrast, here's HK:


 
Manila for example might have both, ie a lot of suburbs and old residential areas around downtown (think brownstones in NY boroughs but not as nice), but there are a lot of differences and changes that are happening. First off, even with a house larger than your average US suburb in Texas (where prices ae a lot lower than California), such a home in Manila is still higher in population density. Instead of a husband, wife, 2.5 kids and either a dog or two cats, you have a husband, wife, maybe 3 kids, usually at least one grandparent or one parent's aunt/uncle who has no kids, 2 (guard) dogs or 2 guard dogs and 2 indoor cats, 1 cooks and housekeeper and maybe 1 nanny/pro caregiver (depending on how old the kids or grandparents are), and 1 driver to shuttle the grandparent/s around or look for parking space for the wife's car so she can go straight up to work.  And then the residential areas near downtown are also disappearing - used to be they just turned to bad areas as the wealthier families moved to gated suburban communities but now it's also because developers are replacing those blocks with high-rise apartments for younger people who want to take a 15min train ride to work more than having a garden.
 

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