Industry trade publication, Twice, is reporting that retailer Sixth Avenue is going to leave the Philadelphia market. The move comes about a year after the company moved into The City of Brotherly Love. The retailer also will close a New Jersey location and hope to lease out the Philadelphia properties.
The company says that the Philadelphia market is hard to reach because of the many newspapers. Having worked in the Philadelphia AV retail market - that's no secret. Circuit City found a way to do it in the early 1990s. Bryn Mawr Stereo found a way to do it in the late 1980's and even into the Tweeter era. It's certainly possible but Philadelphians, among many things - are steadfast and it takes more than 1.5 years to earn their consumer loyalty. It also takes more than low ball priced ads in the New York Times to drive traffic. Sixth Avenue's clients don't read newspapers. They are online. They are on social networks. They are not 60 years old - they are 20-somethings who need to be cultivated into the next generation of specialty AV consumers.
An executive for Sixth Avenue claims that the existing stores in the chain, including a very successful converted Circuit City, will remain focused on mid- to high-end home theater, IP based systems, 12 volt (meaning car stereo) and other higher margin-based business. That's an admirable goal in these markets and in this slow economic recovery but respectfully, it's going to take a lot more than sticking your toes into the cold water of the Delaware to win the hearts and wallets of the people in the fourth largest city in America. Most importantly, it will take a realization that newspapers don't move the needle like they used to 20 years ago. There is generation of youth that is demographically bigger than the Baby Boomers and they love consumer electronics but trying to reach them with print ads and in local newspapers with specialty AV is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Apple can find them - just stop by a Philadelphia area Apple store. Hell, Costco, Wal-mart and Target can find them. It takes a commitment to sell higher end gear. We knew that at Bryn Mawr Stereo back in 1990. That commitment was only there for a short time with Sixth Avenue. It should have been longer.