The following Monday morning after the delivery and installation of the $100k system that was used just to listen to Grateful Dead live bootleg cassettes and burned CD’s (referred to in my previous article), I returned to the store and told the general manager of my reactions and observations in the latest example of high-end audio vanity purchases.
It had become clear to me pretty early on that the well-heeled customers of real High End emporiums buy for other reasons then just the music.
Of course the music does sound better, much much better of course but in reality you can buy a car for $20K , a car for $50k and a car for $100k. They all share the ability of getting you from point A to point B. It just comes down to how you want to get to point B.
Once you get past a certain point, the laws of diminishing returns starts to play a very big factor.
There is a huge difference between the ride of a $20k Honda Civic and a $50k Lexus but blindfolded one would have a hard time telling the difference (meaning, in this case, better) between the ride of the Lexus and a $100k Mercedes.
So it is with all things luxury.
In this case, while many readers of Copper are probably well -read and have a long term experience of owning High End gear, Most probably are just stunned and shell shocked as to where the prices have gone compared to what most of us thought you had to shell out in the dawning era of the high end in the mid 1960’s.
And so, fresh from the $100k system that I delivered just to listen to Grateful Dead bootlegs, I said to the general manager that the thing that stood out the most was that the system was powered by Crown amps (clearly an old purchase by someone who really doesn’t either understand home audio or got bad advice from another dealer) I was told that the salesman was quite aware that the buyer had Crown power amps but did not want to confuse the buyer with too much change. In other words, that $100K purchase would be step 1 when playing the “long game” with a buyer like this.
“One needs to be patient” I was told.
He continued, with great confidence “When the time is right, a big (meaning expensive) amp sale will happen”.
And, just like he predicted, about a month later, the wife of the buyer frantically called to tell the salesman the the housekeeper (while vacuuming) knocked over one of the speaker columns and cracked the wooden base of one of the towers.
“Please tell me it can be fixed”, she said. He is away on business for a few days and it needed to be fixed before he returned.
The salesman then said “We can send down a master woodworker to do the repair but if you really want to make your husband happy, you should surprise him with the perfect amplifier to finish the system”
“How much are they?” said the wife.
The salesman enthusiastically told her that the amps are matching Levinson 33 Mono block towers (the latest & greatest) and only cost $35K for the pair.
He continued “They will look great next to the speakers and he will never notice if the speaker ever fell over and I can get the my woodworker and the amps down immediately as they just happen to be in stock!”
“Great she replied, send them down!”
Wow…I thought. Brilliant and he was so right!
Another great lesson in luxury retail:
As long as the client has money, it’s all in the timing!