While the high-end is still enjoying a great deal of demand and support, high-end dealers are not.
The state of high-end audio retailing isn't good; we lose a few each year and they are not being replaced.
Some manufacturers are abandoning the high-end retail channel altogether: B and W is a good example. While not entirely out, their move to big box retailer Best Buy has some serious writing on the wall. But why are we losing dealers and can a new model for retailing be created?
If the demand for high-end consumer products is the same, yet the outlets for demonstrating and supplying them is diminishing, then logically some new vehicle to handle this vacuum will appear soon (nature abhors a vacuum).
Is it mail order and catalogs? Certainly they have picked up steam - but I don't think they can ever provide the personalized touch and demonstration abilities of a local dealer.
What we need is a new paradigm that brings back the local high-end expert to the market. I have an idea of how this might work.
Tomorrow, I'll spring it on you.
Hint: it involves the model used by Wal Mart.