Yesterday's WSJ had an article (subscription required) on how regional consumer electronics stores are thriving despite the economy. The keys to success seem to be a) taking advantage of the demise of Circuit City, and b) the use of a trained, commissioned sales force. I can't help but point out that one big reason that Circuit City died was the move away from its own trained, commissioned sales force to lower paid, non-commissioned shift workers. Of course, Wal~Mart's spokesperson is quick to point out the flip side: many consumers are doing their research online and hate pushy commissioned retail salespeople.
The Journal doesn't talk about the smaller, specialty A/V retailer, but based solely on the number of local stores that have gone out of business over the past year (Rabson's, I'll miss you), that segment of the business isn't going to pick up any Circuit City leftovers. So how will the remaining stores survive? One way is to hold special events to drive traffic to the store. Frankly, I'm surprised this is the first time I'm seeing this: one of the local high end A/V stores is having three manufacturer reps come to do a dog-and-pony show (this link is to a similar past event) and is advertising it by buying email lists from one of the home theater magazines. Will this be enough? I hope so.