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Just stopped into the grand opening of the local Best Buy as they had the grand opening sign out front and so I thought I would take a look. This specific store has been a Magnolia location and it is still a part of the new store but now the store which is being re-branded a "Design Center." I was told these specific stores are now showcases for the latest and greatest and I have to admit I was very surprised.

Upon entry the store does have a completely new look, some might say it is a bit stark with a theme which leans toward the white side. The Magnolia is now away from the main entrance, is back in the rear corner of the store and is also a much larger space. What shocked me the most was a demo system with the new (updated) MacIntosh MC275 tube amplifier driving a pair of Martin Logan speakers setup for everyone nearby the entrance to hear. I went in and was shocked again to see B&W speakers on display, multiple areas with projection screens, an outdoor theater mock up and several more private listening rooms than before.

I headed into one of the rooms and there was a set of 802D's powered by a pair of MacIntosh MC1.2KW mono blocks. One of the salesman gladly demo'd the system and of course it sounded very nice. The room was well treated and a very good space to demo the gear they had setup in there, primarily MacIntosh amp, pre's and source components with B&W, Martin Logan and Sonus faber speakers.

For a few minutes I completely forgot I was in a Best Buy store so if that was the goal for the remodel and relaunch I have to say they succeeded on every measure. The test will be how many will be lining up to purchase a pair of $15K B&W's with equally priced amps, pre-amps and source gear. If nothing else this part of the store is no longer a showroom for Amazon and is a great way to introduce a generation born listening to mp3's with pathetic ear bud speakers s short pour or two of the "good stuff."

I wish them luck and really hope this new formula succeeds. This is most likely a last ditch attempt to stay afloat and it certainly offers something more than the BB of old.
 

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Wow. I am impressed but I am not sure if Best Buy is doing the right thing here. After all, their customer base are the folks looking for decent (good) products that are cheap!

By going after the high end dollar customer, they are going to miss their core and a lot of retailers such as Walmart have tried this concept (selling high end/better quality outfits) and failed miserably..

I guess we will wait and see what happens and if the high end merchandise does not sell, I am sure the pure video/audio purists will go there for the clearance sales. lol :)
 

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I found article in avrev that talks about this.. B&W expanding into Best Buy.

Per the article, chairman Joe Atkins from B&W felt moving to Best Buy Magnolia was best since the number of speciality AV stores are getting smaller and smaller and with Best Buy's market in just about every place in the U.S. and elsewhere, the perfect way to introduce people to B&W..

We shall see if this is a good move or not.
 

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Wow, very interesting. B&W is right about the audio specialty stores. Back in the 70s and 80s there were at least a half-dozen higher-end shops here in the Houston area. I’m only aware of a couple now, and only one of those dates back to that time. Many of them have given way to small shops that specialize in home theater installations that keep 8-5 doctor’s office hours – kinda difficult to get a speaker demo from a place like that if you work for a living.

I missed the Walmart high-end thing, but it looks to me like BB has a huge leg-up on Walmart as they have dedicated listening rooms like a real high-end shop. The success it seems to me will depend on advertising, letting people know Magnolia is there, and what it’s all about. Who knows, if/when the “regular Joe” customers wander in there and get to hear a real system, BB might even be able to make a lot of new recruits for our little hobby, more so than a typical hi-fi shop ever could.

Regards,
Wayne
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Wayne,
My impressions of the new setup as well. In my area we have lost a ton of old standby hi-fi shops where you could go and listen. We are really down to one good one left and it can be difficult to get in there so unless you are motivated it just will not happen. The entire family was with me last night so everyone had a chance to listen to that system including my kids who have never been exposed to that type of experience.
 

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Honestly these days I'm more worried about Best Buy's long term survival. They are getting crushed by the likes of Target, Wal Mart, CostCo and of course, Amazon in the consumer electronics market, especially TVs. Those guys are not doing well and I question their ability to turn the ship around. I hope they do but...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Which is exactly why they are attempting to move up the stack. Trying to compete with Wal Mart is a losing proposition so you need to try to go after a different demographic. This is not easy when you already have established yourself as a low cost provider. They have taken some pretty big steps in the right direction and should be an interesting story to follow. For the sake of our hobby I hope they can make it.
 

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They have a high end Magnolia in one of the Dallas stores (75 and Park Ln.) too and they have some very nice gear in there.
I spoke with the Magnolia manager and he told me this was the "real" Magnolia and was renting space in the Best Buy building.
The sales staff there are very professional and well trained.
Only select Best Buys will be getting the real Magnolia stores and this makes sense.
The core Best Buy customer is not shopping for B&W 802s and McIntosh mono-blocks.
In reality for the majority of Best Buy shoppers the B&W CM series is very high end.
If every large metro area can get one or two high end Magnolia stores (and Best Buy can get the word out) it can be a win for everyone.
Perhaps Best Buy could rotate the normal Magnolia managers in these areas through the premium stores so they can learn how to set up their own stores.
 

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This should be interesting. Maybe soon to Tampa, FL
 

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It's my understanding that best buy is trying to adapt or in some ways regress back to a location with knowledgable sale staff and better customer service. Magnolia has always been a spearhead for quality end to end customer experiences.

It's good to see the brand getting a much needed reboot; when you think about the varying experiences people report in their local magnolia stores (or best buys for that matter) from knowledgable staff happy to help down to inexperienced kids hocking HTIBs it's easy to see that something needed to change.
 

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Well they need to do something, reboot or otherwise. Magnolia was a pretty nice high end store in its day. Best Buy gave it a lot more coverage around the country (it had been a regional chain) but at a cost to its brand and image. It looks like they are trying to bring Magnolia upscale again. That's not necessarily a bad thing in order to differentiate it from the rest of the store but will there be enough high end buyers?
 

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Wow, sounds very cool. If they hire some people that know something I would really be impressed a lot more. Best Buy has a long way to go if it wants to stay afloat. Not enough people wanting not to mention knowing it even exists, high end stereo equipment. Most people think an Ipod sounds good.
 

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Glad to see some high end stuff accesable. The few high end audio places these days are tucked away and rarely known about by the average person. As long as they maintian quality staff, and quality product Magnolia may come back, the accesability from being at a Best Buy may educate and influence some. Time will tell.
 

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I'd love to see BB Canada do something like that. Listening/demo rooms would help educate the average person. I know from experience that given a choice between HTIB and stand alone components, I'd rather spend the extra for the stand alone components and slowly build my system having been properly educated! BB had a formula that work for years but the competition has figured out the formula too! Time to re-invent themselves. Change or be left behind!
 

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I think one of the stores in Tulsa Oklahoma has (or had) this setup. I remember visiting there once about 2 years ago and was very surprised with what they had setup.
 

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My local audio group, River City Audio Society, has been invited to tour the new flagship Magnolia store (located in Best Buy) at 17414 La Cantera Parkway (Rim Shopping Center) on Saturday 17 November 2012 at 1pm. Should be a fun outing.
 

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My Local Best Buy has had a magnolia roughly the past 8 years. Unlike my older 600s and excluding the 800 series, a lot of the new B&W stuff these days is made in China. I'm thinking Best Buy may have had something do to with this.
 

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I hate to say it, but 2 years ago I walked into magnolia after trying to find some cheap take classics, listened to some B&W's there and was hooked.. i didnt buy anything there but it was nice.
 
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