Thursday, May 16, 2002

Eric's Gold

Let me add my welcome to Eric. We need some fresh blood in here to get things going again. Eric's blood obviously runs true and swift. That was as sharp a take on Gonzo as I've seen.

Let me offer a personal experience of what Eric's talking about:
there's a great CD shop in my neck of the woods-Hear Music. They have about a dozen listening stations throughout the shop, each hooked into eight CD's or so. The stations are grouped into idiosyncratic, intriguing categories by the various employees of the store. In addition, you can take any CD you want to a central listening station and they'll play it for you.

On average, it's about five or six bucks per CD over internet prices. I started to get cold feet the last time I made a multiple purchase there. I calculated how much extra it was costing me over a year's time to do my buying there. Then I thought about the "one-hit wonders" to which Eric refers--all the ones I didn't have to buy because I had had the opportunity to listen to them at this wonderful store (and, yes Eric, there sure are a shitload of these rip-offs out there).

I realized that the money I had saved far outweighed the extra per-CD cost. And I'm so appreciative of this merchant's hip and helpful employees, I wouldn't dream of going there just to listen, only to head home and log on to Amazon.

Obviously, a lot of loyal customers feel the same way. Hear Music has had nothing to fear from the rise of e-commerce. Their greatest period of growth has coincided with the rise of the Web. And the icing on the cake: their dedication to the listening experience of their customers caught the attention of Starbuck's, who in '99 awarded them the contract for creating album mixes for their cafes.

So, yes, Uncle Eric, there's gold in them thar' Gonzo, customer-up models.

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