Who Gets It?
Progressive Audio's Digital Domicile
By Natalie Hope McDonald
Show, don't tell, is a rule most retailers live by. But it took a Columbus, Ohio-based company to adapt this concept to C-tailing by designing an apartment showroom ripe for reproduction in townhouses, condos and co-ops everywhere from Tribeca to Santa Monica.
Progressive Audio has been a successful specialty retailer of high-end audio and video systems for more than 20 years. With numerous retailing awards and a client list that includes IBM, Record Town and The Limited to its credit, Progressive has been working with audio in the home ever since founder Scott Ranney built speakers out of his dorm room at nearby Ohio State University. But as customers' expectations for high-end home electronics began to evolve toward custom-installed solutions, Progressive, too, had to evolve to meet, and even help create, the new market.
Ranney explains that, "By doing a presentation for a long period of time, you get frustrated trying to explain concepts to people. You can show someone a touch pad, but it's much easier to show them the results." So Progressive decided to transform an apartment that once served as home to a college professor to a full-function install showroom. "You could move right in here," he says. The 1,500-square-foot space encompasses one-sixth of Progressive's overall company headquarters, which consist of about three floors of storage and offices within the apartment complex.
"Ten years ago, it was mostly a retail market," says Ranney. "But four years ago, installation got bigger." Now Ranney counts the custom side of the business as being the most lucrative, since customers want everything from networked climate control, lighting and security to high-end home entertainment centers. To meet this C-tailing challenge, Ranney de-veloped an in-store concept he calls "interactive retailing." Progressive's media system demonstrations offer interactive effects, themed merchandising zones, video walls and listening stations.