Electronics Stores in the Ron Burgundy Era

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Thursday, May 29, 2014
When I got into the audio business in 1971, that's exactly what it was -- the AUDIO business. I worked for Dick Schulze at a chain of Minnesota stereo stores that would evolve into Best Buy, but at the time was called....The Sound of Music.
I did not work at an electronics store. I worked at a stereo store. We sold receivers, turntables, speakers, open-reel tape decks and cassette decks. No VCRs. No DVD players. No TVs. No computers.
As you can see from the photos, we were pretty cool dudes. Ron Burgundy could have fit right in at Sound of Music.
But despite the now-odd-looking haircuts, we were serious about sound. I remember many long nights sitting in a listening room comparing Advent Loudspeakers with AR3as -- or with Altec A7 "Voice of the Theater" speakers (each the size of a full refrigerator). We debated sound quality endlessly, and once even held a two-hour double-blind listening test with 12 judges (we were surprised when a big ElectroVoice speaker won over the big-name Massachusetts companies).
Looking back on this time, the most notable aspect of the era was the role of music and stereo systems in our culture. For many of us, our stereo systems were a more important status symbol than our cars. Parties revolved around the stereo -- and what was being played. One of my favorite party tricks was playing Emerson, Lake & Palmer's song Tank, and blowing out a match with the woofers in my Advent Loudspeakers.
Music systems were THE cool technology products of the 1970s. TV just wasn't that interesting, with maybe five or six TV channels....mostly showing bad TV shows, Mork and Mary Tyler Moore being among the exceptions. (Dick and I saw Mary Tyler Moore at the Black Angus restaurant while she was in town to film the opening scene of her TV show.) We had typewriters, not computers. And the offices at Sound of Music headquarters still had dial phones -- not those fancy "push-button" models.
Modern technology is pretty exciting. I do like my iPhone. But I love my stereo.
Maybe it's time to download Tank from iTunes and find a book of matches.


PMR MPLS said...

Love this blog post! Especially the part about your favorite party trick. Good times!

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