Upon entering, it takes only a moment to appreciate that the store is the antithesis of big-box excess. Illuminated by lots of natural light, customers won't find HD televisions stacked to the ceiling or endless rows of gadgets encased in glass.
Instead, similar products -- TVs, home and car audio, high-end cameras -- are displayed in pods alongside touchscreen displays. The store has 15 fixtures with 67 display stations. They're connected by 18,000 feet of computer cable to servers that are linked by fiber optics to the company's corporate data center, according to company founder and namesake
"The intelligent, interactive fixtures are designed to demonstrate the unique features of the displayed products," Crutchfield wrote in press materials.
"For example, Bluetooth and AirPlay-equipped products can be demonstrated using the sales advisors' smart phones. Small television receivers are positioned to demonstrate the video menus and graphics generated by home audio/video receivers. When certain sample products are lifted from stands, all the pertinent information regarding those products is automatically displayed on screens."
In addition, information displayed on the fixtures can be emailed directly to shoppers from the displays. The uniqueness of the fixtures led Crutchfield to file for provisional patents on them.
"Obviously, it's a whole new experience and it's a whole new way to shop for anything," said
Although big-box stores are visually impressive, Fay said that model really isn't very customer friendly.
"We're not showing you 20 different versions of a camera as an example," he said. "We're showing you six -- the most popular, the best seller, customer favorites ... We really believe that we can adequately demonstrate and show all [of our] 9,000 products."
The new location is about 9,700 square feet with a separate 2,100-square-foot bay to install audio systems in vehicles. The Rio Hill location was about 20,000 square feet.
"One of the key things that we don't think will ever go away is shopping -- it's fun. And, hopefully, we believe we've created a store that supports not only the experience but is a cool place to go shopping," Fay said.
Fay said he is confident the in-person retail experience is here to stay.
"Today one of the core reasons a customer -- whether they will acknowledge it or not, one of the core reasons they want to go to a retail store is that they want to validate their choice with somebody who is an expert," he said.
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