In my travels around West Los Angeles, I can't help but see signs of life after one hell of an economic downturn. Real estate isn't as battered in the tony neighborhoods of Pacific Palisades, Brentwood and Beverly Hills but values are down. Luxury stores closed just as fast on Montana Avenue, Robertson Boulevard, in the Pacific Design Center and around Rodeo Drive as they have in the shopping areas in other parts of this recession battered country of ours. But guess what? I am seeing signs of life sprouting up all over town. Hippies and stoners are rejoicing over the fact that Medical Marijuana "dispensaries" are popping up on nearly every corner of town. In fact sales of Electric Ladyland and Dark Side of the Moon have spiked to keep up with the increase in weed consumption.
Clandestine retail stores selling the sticky-icky-icky and Maui Wowie are not the only signs of recovery. I am seeing AV stores springing up all over the country. Here in Los Angeles there is a new store in the location that once was Shelly's AV on Wilshire Boulevard. Paul (the King of Big Screens) literally executed on an idea that I looked into after I sold AVRev.com and before starting this new publishing group, which was to rent the space across from the Best Buy on Sawtelle Boulevard in West Los Angeles and put in a competing store. Unlike the now defunct Genesis AV in Irvine - you can go in there for a demo when the clerks at Best Buy can't answer one single technical question that you may have. Is this the second coming of Christopher Hansen Ltd. or Definitive Audio in L.A.? Absolutely not. But it's a good sign. Add in a new audiophile player east of Los Angeles (a little past where Cheech and Chong come from - more where you can get REALLY good Dim Sum) called Sunny Components and you have a new audiophile dealer selling Wilson Audio and other ultra-high end audio. The holes in the marketplace are being filled in.
The regrowth isn't just in Los Angeles. The holes left from big installers like Baumeister in Chicago, Sound Solutions here in LA, Genesis in Irvine as well as big-box and regional chains like Circuit City, The Good Guys and Tweeter are being filled by new stores. There is a new dealer with a fancy new showroom in Long Island called SEAL Solutions. John Capoccia's MediaCraft is picking up where MyerEmco left off in Washington D.C. PC Richards, albeit not much of a home theater specialty shop, is opening in Philadelphia. Denver's Ultimate Electronics is expanding to the North East. There is life out there.
While I am sure I have missed many of the new dealers out there - feel free to post comments below as to what's going on in your market. Clearly, things are getting a little better than the gloom and doom of the Great Recession. It might not be the "v-shaped recovery" that we all want, but hell - let's take what we can get and grow from these successes.