In case you were wondering, Car Toys of Seattle’s sales were up last year by low single digits in comparable store sales and CEO Dan Brettler is hoping for a mid-single digit bump this year.
The Car Toys exec says the chain has no plans right now to enter new markets, but an expansion into additional states is on the table for the future.
Meanwhile, the car stereo chain of 51-stores continues to transform itself into an auto boutique. It just began offering aftermarket leather seats so if your car has cloth seats, you can upgrade them to leather. And it is looking into dent repair, said Bettler in an interview.
The chain has also been test marketing sports racks and may stock them regularly.
All but one Car Toys store now offers auto detailing and services such as headlight restoration, which together amounts to about 2 to 3 percent of car stereo sales. Brettler says it could go north of five percent.
The CEO has big ideas but he’s cautious. When the chain entered detailing over a year ago, “We took a year to test and pilot it and really learned how to get the business right. So from day one, we put out a really good product. We had to learn a new business, how to talk to a new customers, how to build it into the culture of the installers who have done car audio for 15 to 20 years.”
About entering new markets, he says, “Sure, in the future we might expand,” but, “There’s no concrete plans to do that.” The company is taking the steps that would precede an expansion such as “strengthening comp store sales; strengthening car audio and enhancing it with other products and services,” he said.
There may be some opportunity for Car Toys in Ultimate Electronics’ misfortune. It expects to pick up sales in Colorado and Oregon as a result of Ultimate’s closing.
As for future products, driver safety devices remain a strong potential category, although sales aren’t raging quite yet.
“It’s big on our minds and medium in our volume,” says Brettler, “We think that it’s a really important ingredient to our business. It’s the responsible thing to do and we think it will be the legislated thing to do.”
When asked about greater cellphone connectivity in the car, Brettler said, “We believe that the connected car is going to be real. I believe the industry is in the infant stages of that… I’m going to want to access everything in the phone. I believe you’ll see ways to do it including WiFi enabled head units. Not this year, but not many years out.”
Car Toys’ annual sales are estimated at $130 million. The chain is a member of the PRO Group buying organization.