Car Toys to Help Best Buy Reinvent Car AV

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Best Buy is partnering with 49-store chain Car Toys, based in Seattle to “reinvent our service model from the bay right to the sales floor,” in car electronics,  it said it a notice to certain industry members.

Best Buy logoA trial phase of the new program will launch on October 3, through the end of Best Buy’s fiscal calendar year.

It will involve a “store within a store” sales team at Best Buy that is highly trained in car electronics and a system of motivating sales personnel, said the notice.

The trial is expected to launch in West Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Car Toys said it had “no comment” on the matter and Best Buy did not respond to our phone inquiry.

The notice said that the program will be lead by Best Buy’s Damien Harmon, senior director of channel operation for portable electronics.

Industry members familiar with the matter said that Best Buy and Car Toys have been talking about a partnership for over a year.

Car Toys has already teamed with Best Buy in a few markets in a test trial to sell car stereo to car dealerships or “expeditor” sales. The new program would represent an expansion of that program into sales to consumers.

The notice added, “Through this partnership, we have designed an experiment that will not only re-establish Best Buy and Autotechs as an authority in the Mobile Electronics industry, but also provide an environment for our employees to have a career path both in mastery and mobility.”

Source: CEoutlook

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18 Comments

  1. I worked at Car Toys for years, opened stores, ran departments. We have always had a Best Buy near by. Car Toys is loosing traction in 12 volt, bottom line. They are selling e readers, digital picture frames, detailing cars and selling Thule racks. The only thing profitable about Car Toys is the cellular side. With Wireless Advocates (Car Toys owner) moving into the Aafees on military bases and in Staples and Costco this is purely a move to get Best Buy to fall in love with the Car Toys business model. Best Buy will ave an ownershipshare in Car Toys within 36 months and both companies will suffer.

    Best Bu is better off being a big box retailer with commission sales people, the customers like that. Car Toys will bring their under paid commission style selling to a national market and will pollute an already fragile 12volt industry. The only winner will be Dan Brettler, the owner of Car Toys.

    Good Luck.

  2. @ David eaton, i couldn’t agree more! My location (best buy), employs 2 master cetified techs, with a combined 30 years experience. We offer full custom installs, lighting, and full fabrication. Whereas it’s not the same standard company wide, please understand that type casting all of us “evil big-box” installers/bays, is just as generic as lumping all the specialty shops into the dreaded “tint-shack/swap meet/audio-hack shack” category. Let’s remember that we’re all in this for a mutual love of 12 volt, and wheather you choose to believe it or not, corporate 12 volt and specialized, are mutually inclusive. WE do the advertising, WE provide you as the alternative, WE are the scape goat to your slimy sales pitch, WE are trained by the same vendors peddling the same wares, and WE respect and work with a lot of you.

  3. I managed a Car*Toys location in Houston and now work at Best Buy. Our Best Buy location is superior in knowledge and product to most smaller shops in my area due to the ex-CT installer in our install bay. This is not the norm. We spend many a day fixing our other locations installs and the specialty shop installs as well. My problem is the smaller shops peddling brands like Boss and Merlon being same quality as Alpine and Kicker!! We can do any car and work with some of the local car audio shops to help the customers. I use them for parts, boxes and sometimes installs. What I am saying is there is enough to go around; if we take care of the customer. The enemy is OEM; not other aftermarket retailers. Just sayin!!!

  4. Best Buy blew it when they decided to turn their 12 Volt section into GPS Land in 2008. Shortly after changing the layout and eliminating many products, their biggest competitor Circuit City closed it’s doors leaving a void in Big Box 12 Volt offerings. Had they stayed the course, Circuit City’s closing would have been an opportunity to expand their offerings and market share. Instead, they now have to find a capable partner to get back in the business. More and more Best Buy square footage will be occupied by third party sources as they try to survive while burdened with these huge Brick & Mortar albatrosses.

  5. This is something Best Buy should’ve done years ago. Their audio dept. is probably the worst dept. in the whole store. Their home audio dept. is ok, but the car audio is just horrible.

  6. distributor of 12 volt products to the local stereo shops , being they are located everywhere. This would mean that they would have to follow the same pricing guides that we. This could in theory created a more profitable market for everyone.
    Really does the install bay of BB make that much money when they are charging 35.00 to install a radio and the installer take 3 hours to put it in. Seems like the installers make the money.
    P.S. Even the VPs of best buy dont let their installers touch their personal vehicles. What does that tell you.

  7. From our experience having BB as a competitor, they dont have the resources of quality installers at all the locations. The cost of vehicle damages during the installs should be clue enough not to be installing since the installers are unsupervised in the bays . A majority of the BB installers since unsupervised have a bad habit of doing side jobs stolen from BB, and no the cameras in the bays dont catch everything. I theory this is a great idea , but the days of the install bays for BB never seemed profitable.
    We have to go into a few cars every month to undi and fix the mess the so called 12 volt installer has done. They have a policy of which they dont do work on high end cars and lets face it , the technology on even a regular car(fords , hybrids, etc..) is getting to become the same as a high end car.
    My suggestion for BB is to stick to the sales of the 12 volt products and provided install cards to the local car audio shops. By doing this they can shake that bad reputation they have on the installations to the public, and also become a

  8. I would love to hear what the manufactures think about this move.
    In regards to the reference of the purchase of Magnolia Hi Fi that was a smart move in a different time period. No real internet sales issues, no Amazon getting a hall pass on collecting sales tax… BB bought a lot of relationships with that purchase that hey werent going to get any other way. It seems today BB has had almost any brand it felt it could exploit of the back of the independant. Glad to see that there are still a handful of manufactures that have been able to stay the course and support specialty retail.

  9. I\’m shocked sometimes to see that others in the car audio specialty retail business would make statements that Best Buy or other mass merchants are good for the industry. What products do they sell that most of us sell, and how does it benefit us when they do bogo deals or free installs or sell headunits for $5 more than our cost?? No matter their lack of knowledge or their lack of ability to have what it takes to build a good quality system, (by lack of product and knowledge)they take sale after sale from all of the independents like us.. They sell the basic cheap product and most customers relate that quality to the entire product brand. Just like the 2fors, its all perceived value.They can ruin a product line instead of promoting the sale of the brand. If you guys like what they do , I hope you can get a job there selling computers and TVs when they put us all out of business and destroy the car audio industry.

  10. Looks very much like the Magnolia model. Try before you buy. I see both in-store and free standing Car Toys as part of the future BBY empire.
    Good move in my opinion.

  11. Living and working in a market with a large Car Toys and Best Buy presense I can say from personal experience that both are doing a good job of providing market/product awareness but they are also doing a lot of damage to our industry. Our store gets multiple visits every week from people that are complaining about poor customer service, lack of product knowledge and excessive high pricing. This is good for us as they appreciate our specialized attention but often they have already been burned and spent a large amount of money, particularly with CT, and are less willing to spend those amounts with us because of that experience. This is leading people to simply purchase the upgrades when they buy a new car and live with that instead of spending that money with a specialzed retailer that could give them a much nicer and better sounding option for similar money. I would not miss CT or BB and believe that the product manufacturers could simply take the money they pay them and spend it with the smaller dealers to drive sales and improve market/product awareness. There are a lot of dealers that would be more than happy to use a small portion of that money to do marketing and advertising to help grow their business but cannot afford to without that help.

  12. Well, we’ve finally let the Fox into the Hen House….he complained enough…
    We don’t have to worry about BB making it….what really happens if they get out of the Car Audio biz?…..Maybe some of the fly by night C/A companies from China might disappear too! We are all lining up like lemmings to help GM market OnStar, they would just as soon see us go away too ! When will we learn?…. the next thing you know, someone will start offering installation services to help people that buy products from the scummy internet transhippers…Oopps, someone already offers those services….’Nuff Said !

  13. Looking at over all capital coming from BB this a bad move for a smaller chain to do to the other small shops. Seriously, why would you show BB how to properly sell, install, and market the products that puts food on your table. Somebody’s pockets are getting fatter at the cost of others. Bravo!

  14. start looking for work Damien Harmon. it has been tried several times before. there just isn’t enough talent around to get the job done.

  15. Big picture is BB needs to survive in the 12 volt industry. Without them the Japenese manufactures would not have the revenue stream to do R&D for new products. Think of it for a moment, if BB sells just one sku a month from each location thats 1200 units. Now lets say they sell one a week. 4800, see where we are going here? Granted one a week is pathetic but it all ads up. Most 12 volt transactions still sart out with a head unit purchase and the rest gets added on. Lets hope Car Toys can show them the way…

  16. In spite of speciality retailers loathing best buy, they are a very crucial part of our industry and spend alot of advertising dollars, we as independents simply can’t afford. I’d love to see best buy reposition it’s car audio division, I only hope that they can play by the same rules the smaller shops do, especially considering some of their map/pricing fo pas

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