Talking Shop Page 4

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Along with the lifestyle vignettes, there's also a huge wall of flat-panel TVs, an On the Go area for portable electronics, and even a car-stereo installation area. The goal of all the demo spaces isn't just to sell gear - it's to eventually have the customer and salesman sit down together and plan an in-home visit with a design-team member to discuss the best solutions for the available budget. Options run the gamut from basic flat-panel TV installations to whole-house control and automation systems.

"We arrange the stores in the way the equipment will ultimately be used, and we focus on systems as opposed to individual components," says Patrick Reynolds, senior VP and chief marketing officer at Tweeter. "So if you're thinking about your living room, we try and say, 'Here's a notional space that shows a few examples of what you might do in a living room.' If you want a $1,000 panel hung correctly, we can do that to the nth degree, but if you want a $10,000 system, we do that, too. The concept is based on how you live your life and what we can do to make your life a bit more fun."

The customer journeys, while recommended, aren't mandatory. Those choosing to navigate the store on their own are given a map that details the various areas within the Playground. While the company is still evaluating and fine-tuning the concept, it apparently is fulfilling its goal of creating excitement in visitors. Reynolds estimates that so far, about 70% of the customers are agreeing to go on the guided tour.

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