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Thread: Audio and Record Shop Memories

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    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Audio and Record Shop Memories

    I just wrote this as part of a reaction to a post: " Don Gort, now gone but half of the team at the local audiophile shop, loved and was a true believer in tubes and vinyl. He would not at all like the way my current systems sound. He was a world class great guy and a good friend, so it was all good. I don't use any of the gear I got from him anymore, but I still find it difficult to part with."

    I imagine many of you have fond memories of an audio(phile) shop that may or may not still be there, and of the people who made it memorable. Not because of what they carried but because knowing them was one of the better things in your past. I would love to hear the members go on as they please about this. In my case, I have two, because my father was a quality control engineer at Shure Bros, an audio enthusiast, a music lover, a great teacher and influence, and a really sweet man.


    As the thread starter, I can say that similar record store memories are welcome here.
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


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    Senior Member SEAWOLF97's Avatar
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    we HAD a number of "audio boutiques" with corresponding prices in the 70's/80's/90's. That was my first exposure to JBL L-100's.
    At $273 each, they cost almost as much as the VA was paying me to go to school

    The salesmen were snotty and did not want to spend time on a demo if you looked like the money wasn't in your pocket.

    IMHO..the most popular audio store in the Willamette Valley (2018) is Audio Specialties
    https://www.yelp.com/biz/audio-specialties-ltd-portland

    Doug (the owner) is a 1 man show (buys/sells/repairs) and we consider him a local gem. Everything is pre-owned, but with a 90 day guarantee. I referred Mr. W to AS and he seemed satisfied.

    One of his best selling points is that the repair/sales guarantee is transferable. Free estimates.
    STRANGE ....is the new NORMAL

  3. #3
    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SEAWOLF97 View Post
    we HAD a number of "audio boutiques" with corresponding prices in the 70's/80's/90's. That was my first exposure to JBL L-100's.
    At $273 each, they cost almost as much as the VA was paying me to go to school

    The salesmen were snotty and did not want to spend time on a demo if you looked like the money wasn't in your pocket.
    The shop where Don Gort worked was EDI (Electronics Diversified) in Peoria. When the original owner, Dick Green (a very colorful character) passed away Don and another Don, Don Baker, took over ownership and operations. "The Dons" were a two-man team, both great guys, best friends, and did everything. Everything was informal so it was considered bizarre to we customers that the high-end operations in the Chicago area were so aloof. Gort (they went by Gort and Baker or Bake) would tell how you needed an appointment up there. They would provide wine and cheese and if you didn't buy anything they charged you for the refreshments. Geez, Louise.

    A friend of mine, like me originally from Chicago, was up there looking to buy a Marantz 1180DC (A nice amp; I bought a 1152DC at EDI and used it until it finally blew an output transistor.) The dealer he was visiting literally looked down his nose at my friend and replied, "We don't do mid-fi". Hopefully, at some future point, an inebriated audiophile presented him with a knuckle sandwich.
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SEAWOLF97 View Post
    The salesmen were snotty and did not want to spend time on a demo if you looked like the money wasn't in your pocket.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ducatista47 View Post
    The dealer he was visiting literally looked down his nose at my friend and replied, "We don't do mid-fi".
    I guess I was just lucky. During the ‘70s as teenager I visited every Hi-Fi shop and Audio Salon I could find. I visited quite a number all over Northern California from the Bay Area and Sacramento north and mostly met patient enthusiasts happy to teach a dumb kid the difference between a basic power amp and a receiver, how an electrostat worked, the benefits of class A designs etc.



    Quote Originally Posted by Ducatista47 View Post
    They would provide wine and cheese and if you didn't buy anything they charged you for the refreshments. Geez, Louise.
    That’s a strange business model. I can’t imagine it worked out very well for them!


    Widget

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    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget View Post
    I guess I was just lucky. During the ‘70s as teenager I visited every Hi-Fi shop and Audio Salon I could find. I visited quite a number all over Northern California from the Bay Area and Sacramento north and mostly met patient enthusiasts happy to teach a dumb kid the difference between a basic power amp and a receiver, how an electrostat worked, the benefits of class A designs etc.


    That’s a strange business model. I can’t imagine it worked out very well for them.


    Widget
    I have been very lucky. As a teenager in the Sixties, Toad Hall on the wealthy North Shore up Sheridan Road let my friends and I compare, at our leisure, a Paragon and an S8R pair. We told them (and it was surely obvious anyway) that we poor Hippies had no money and just wanted to hear the stuff.

    I might add that being without the means to buy the gear in the magazines didn't stop us. I built a Dynaco preamp and power amp and Kevin built an Eico integrated. We both knew how to solder. My Dad, in the 1950s, built Knight and Heathkit amps and tuners to go with home made speakers. He would get good deals on turntables from work; Shure Bros had an arrangement with Dual in Germany, and of course he could get whatever Shure cartridges he wanted.

    I know appointment only dealers still exist in the Chicago area. I can scarcely imagine how full of yourself you would have to be to be one or to patronize them.
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


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    Senior Member Ian Mackenzie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget View Post
    I guess I was just lucky. During the ‘70s as teenager I visited every Hi-Fi shop and Audio Salon I could find. I visited quite a number all over Northern California from the Bay Area and Sacramento north and mostly met patient enthusiasts happy to teach a dumb kid the difference between a basic power amp and a receiver, how an electrostat worked, the benefits of class A designs etc.



    That’s a strange business model. I can’t imagine it worked out very well for them!


    Widget

    Was that before or after the story you once told Bo and l over a beer about connecting up a dozen LE15’s and plugging them into the power point then going outside the house to see “how” Loud it was? I guess that would account for a lot ! ...Lol

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    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    I've told the story before of how I acquired my Dad's mono 030 system from the curb where he'd left it for Goodwill pickup when I was about 9-years-old. The shop that helped me as a kid was Hi-Fi Showroom in St. Louis (actually Clayton, MO) who ordered the drivers for me to build a mate for the 030 and then cancelled the order when they took in another mono 030 orphan from another client. Later I began to question whether or not they'd actually placed my driver order with JBL, but it's all good now.

    Best Sound, also in Clayton, took my first receiver (Kenwood) in trade on a used McIintosh C20 and Fisher SA1000 for cheap money back around 1970. It was Hi-Fi Showroom who later lent me one each Crown D60, D150, and DC300 to try at home as replacements for the Fisher which ate a set of expensive tubes on an annual basis. They were McIntosh dealers and welcomed my C20 at every Mac Clinic they sponsored. I know I was the youngest participant but that didn't stop their willingness to teach and advise. I later brought my Crown D150 to the Mac Clinics where its performance was complimented by the Mac guys.

    For record shops, I always stopped in at The Record Bar in Clayton, at first because they had toys and I was trying to acquire every Matchbox car ever made. Later they were my source for 45s and LPs. The shop was right around the block from my Dad's shoe store where I worked in the summer starting around age 14. The Record Bar's proprietor was a very helpful Mr. Robert Kline who I later found out was the father of actor Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda).

    Much like how I was treated by the owner of the BMW dealership when I'd show up on my Schwinn 3-speed in the mid-'60s, it was the generous sharing of these folks' time that has made my hi-fi hobby a life-long love, as well as my BMW addiction turning into a vocation that has supported my family for over 40-years. Can't say there are many shops of any interests today that are as encouraging to kids with no money who may, or may not, blossom into life-long customers. It's all business these days. I try to be that guy at the BMW dealership where I work, but certainly the management couldn't care less about time spent not selling cars. I even started a local BMW Club chapter which still encourages the hobby—nearly 40-years later!
    ". . . as you have no doubt noticed, no one told the 4345 that it can't work correctly so it does anyway."—Greg Timbers

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    Senior Member SEAWOLF97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SEAWOLF97 View Post
    we HAD a number of "audio boutiques" with corresponding prices in the 70's/80's/90's. .
    that timeline, ending in the 90's abt coincides with the switch to SMT, black plastic/vinyl and big box stores.

    Our repair guy will not work on surface mounted gear , I can't stand black plastic/burnt ash vinyl wrapped speakers and the box stores have no attraction. I guess that's the trifecta (quadfecta ?) that has lured me into vintage gear.

    Got started at abt 11 on my Dad's Sherwood receiver, Dual TT and Uher R2R. The first real money I made was in the USN and having spent most of my time in Asia, my OWN system from the PX was a big Pioneer receiver, Pioneer speakers, Teac & Sansui recorders and a Garrard TT. Now I'm a Denon,BGW, JBL Arcam,ESS, a/d/s, Sony..etc. guy.

    That plus the fact that a high end cell phones cost nearly as a decent mid-level stereo system. Most 20 somthings that I know would rather have the phone. , just as they seem to be shunning car ownership (at least around here) and home ownership. I guess that between renting their music, transportation and housing ... they are the "Rental Generation"
    STRANGE ....is the new NORMAL

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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SEAWOLF97 View Post
    ...they are the "Rental Generation"
    There is an argument to be made that being tethered to worldly possessions is a burden on the soul.

    While I may agree with that concept intellectually, I refuse to cast off stuff and am seriously burdened.


    Widget

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    Dang. Amateur speakerdave's Avatar
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    At Eber Electronics in San Francisco in the late sixties, one of the sales staff was a grand old guy who had a way of tempering the endless selection process by saying of a bit of gear: "That's good enough for anybody."

    When I say "grand" I mean when I went in there carrying my girlfriend's Magnavox portable that needed a "needle" he waited on me without a whiff of snobbery or condescension, and over years afterward, while I was gathering knowledge about hi fi, inspired by all the interesting things I was finding at garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores, he patiently engaged my importuning penurious presence, probably as a way of passing a slow hour on the sales floor. The only other things I ever bought there were the JBL speaker building instruction kit with the box lid like a large format studio monitor, and a used Jensen G610 triaxial, at $60.

    In a way he oversaw the beginning of my listening, and he graduated me, so to speak, when I expressed disbelief on hearing the JBL L200.
    "Audio is filled with dangerous amateurs." --- Tim de Paravicini

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducatista47 View Post
    ...I know appointment only dealers still exist in the Chicago area. I can scarcely imagine how full of yourself you would have to be to be one or to patronize them.
    Like most, this is not a good generalization.

    There is a super nice, knowledgeable, and helpful audio shop owner/operator on the north side of Chicago who manufactures his own brand of speakers, services other brands, and sells and services audio equipment, new and used. He does listening demonstrations by appointment because he may be too busy at the bench to accommodate walk in demos.

    Several years ago, a member here went in and asked his advise on an amp/preamp combo for his newly acquired 250tis. After talking a while, John dug through a stack of equipment and handed him a used amp/preamp he thought would be a good match and told him to take them home to try and report back. Didn't charge him or copy his driver's license, just asked him his name and phone number and sent him on his way. After using them for a week, he was happy and called in his credit card number.

    http://www.vanlspeakerworks.com/index.html


    There was another one man shop like that (sales only though) in Baltimore i visited a few times by appointment only because the owner had a better paying part time job to be able to keep the audio store. I demoed and bought a couple pieces of gear from him. Google tells me he has closed the shop but I see his grandson has opened a shop on the eastern shore of Maryland. I'll have to swing by and visit next time I'm working on that side of the bay.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget View Post
    There is an argument to be made that being tethered to worldly possessions is a burden on the soul.

    While I may agree with that concept intellectually, I refuse to cast off stuff and am seriously burdened.


    Widget
    Perfectly stated.

    Millenials are also poised to inherit more wealth than any prior generation in human history. They're just biding their time.

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    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by speakerdave View Post
    The only other things I ever bought there were the JBL speaker building instruction kit with the box lid like a large format studio monitor ...
    I still have that kit! The top was a blow-molded piece of white plastic and it came with JBL logos, as I recall. Maybe I'll find it when we move . . .
    ". . . as you have no doubt noticed, no one told the 4345 that it can't work correctly so it does anyway."—Greg Timbers

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    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rusty jefferson View Post
    Like most, this is not a good generalization.
    My apologies for generalizing. It's just that I loathe the dealers like I was talking about as much as I love the sort you are mentioning. When someone acts like it is a privilege to meet them in person, they have already lost me. My shining light in that respect was not in audio. He was a high-end sailboat builder I read about. He gained the time to work by being available for contact one hour a week. He would be at his phone during a stated hour, but no other time.

    In any case, Gort, who was quite connected in the business, encountered enough guys who were arrogant appointment only dealers in the Chicago area to like avoiding them. I don't know if it was three or thirty, didn't ask. A friend did get curious about one in Evanston because he or she carried Robert Koda. Then they didn't, so we never got there. We were hoping they were on the nice side but I was not eager to tire kick with no intention or means no matter what sort of operation it was. I'm not a teenager now and I would feel bad anymore behaving like that. I would have been there to just tag along at my friend's request and was relieved we didn't have to go.

    My personal experience in audio has been encountering a lot of sincere, helpful, interesting people. But quite a number of sales types did not fit that description and I always chose to interact with the good ones instead. Some of the nicest, down to earth people I have ever met are famous designers at AXPONA. All but one were quite modest. The sales people are a more varied bunch. It takes all kinds and they are.
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


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    Senior Member SEAWOLF97's Avatar
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    an oldie, but ...
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    STRANGE ....is the new NORMAL

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