Most people who venture into the exotic world of Gramophone in Timonium, Md., probably say they’ve never seen anything like it.
The 15,000-plus-square-foot space showcases four home theater scenarios at budgets from $15,000 to $150,000.
Another section of the store features a five-room digital home that promotes lighting control, home automation, motorized shades and LCD TVs built into bathroom mirrors.
Then there’s the standard retail setting, with TVs, receivers and speakers spread out along the wall.
The store has told this three-part story since 1998, although the products and styles have changed along the way to keep up with changes in both home fashion and electronics. But despite the outstanding merchandising and display on hand, Gramophone President Brian Hudkins still wasn’t satisfied. This year, he set to work on a new section of the store that would up the ante a little more.
As of September, anyone who wants to play against Hudkins now has to take on his Design Center, too.
The Inner Sanctum
The Design Center at Gramophone is where the deals are clinched, where Hudkins and his on-staff interior design team, CAD specialist, acoustic engineer, system designers and programmers illustrate the inner workings of a well-oiled custom installation machine to clients.
The Design Center isn’t about splash and play. By the time customers reach this part of the store, they’ve been qualified as candidates for a remodel project or a home entertainment system in a new house.
“Even after customers come into the store and see home theaters and our custom home, what isn’t necessarily clear is the process, and what it’s going to take to make one of these projects happen in the home,” says Hudkins. “We’ve seen in the past where clients struggle to figure out what it takes to make it all happen, and we wanted to take this concern away. We needed more office space to communicate to our customers what we do beyond providing products to them.”