TONY STANTZOS OF AUDIO SOLUTIONS
Tony Stantzos tells us how the store got through the pandemic – and their current favourite kit.
This issue we talk with Tony Stantzos of Audio Solutions, the destination hi-fi store in Mascot, Sydney.
SOUND+IMAGE: The challenges of the last year have been huge for everyone. How did you fare?
TONY STANTZOS: For us, to be honest, look, we can’t really complain. We had a very reasonable year. We were pretty much open all the way through — we obviously followed the protocols, you know: sanitise your hands, only a few people in the shop in any given room at any time. But what changed was the balance between the three sides of the business — two-channel, home theatre and the real custom stuff. I’d say that 20% of it was in theatre and custom, and the other 80% was in mid to high-end two-channel. That’s a huge switch.
S+I: Can you tell why that happened? TS: I think it was just people being home more, and I can give you any number of different examples of that. One client had planned a big $15-$20k New Zealand ski trip, which obviously got cancelled. He came into the store and he spent 20 grand on a two-channel system, saying ‘If I went to New Zealand I wouldn’t have done this’. So there’s one smack-bang full-on sale that was taken from the travel industry.
And we had people upgrading — guys who had bought a very good pair of speakers two or three years ago but couldn’t afford to buy the amplifier to drive them properly, so had kept their old amplifier. And they’re saying — ‘I’m still earning the same money, I’m at home, I’m not spending it... you know what? I’m buying that amplifier.’ So they’d upgrade from a $5000 amplifier to a $15,000 or $20,000 amplifier.”
S+I: Did you see a switch to online sales?
TS: A little bit, and probably overall we’d like online to be more important. But the type of stuff we’re selling, you know, we need people to come in. You’ve got to talk them through things, let them physically touch, look, smell — whatever they have to do the product before they make that purchase. And hear it, of course! I don’t know how many people are going to go online and buy a $10,000 integrated amplifier or a pair of speakers without hearing them, you know what I mean?
So online is not something that we really focus on. We really are more about customer service, building relationships — getting the people to come in here, or spending long periods of time on the phone talking about stuff to people who can’t make it in, perhaps if they’re in country New South Wales. So rather than them just reading stuff online and not really getting a full understanding of what they’re buying, we’re happy to talk for half an hour or an hour on the phone, talk to people about what they’re actually buying. I think that’s invaluable. And that’s why we’re so unique.”
S+I: What’s exciting the Audio Solutions team at the moment?
TS: Well, definitely now being a Gryphon dealer — that’s a proud moment for me and Nick, that Joe [Josef Riediger] was happy to hand that over to us before his passing; that’s a huge thing for us. We’ve got the Diablo 120 and 300, and we’ll be doing the pre and power amps as well. And we’re getting a bit excited about the JBL Classic series — they just put a smile on your face. Then there’s always the tweaks — isolation platforms, Nordost cables... that’s something that Nick and I pride ourselves on, knowing what a difference these things can make to your sound system without spending huge amounts of money.