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Retail Excellence : Bjorn's: Industry Evangelist

August 8, 2012
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Bjorn’s, a 37-year-old specialty retailing legend, built a reputation early on in industry circles as a “showcase dealer.” Since the introduction of the Compact Disc and even before, vendors have used Bjorn Dybdahl’s single San Antonio store as a launch pad for virtually every new CE product category and innovation.

This year, the industry’s regard for him and for what he has given back to his profession has led to his election to the 2012 CE Hall of Fame—an honor the modest and self-deprecating Dybdahl said he was shocked to receive. “I’m basically a lazy person, and the reality is, people around me made it happen,” he said.

Though he may deny it, Dybdahl has been the tone-setter for the store’s ingrained identity as an instrument of technology education. But the store’s vendors do agree with him that Bjorn’s success is a group effort, and that Dybdahl is right to credit a staff that includes COO and CFO, Doug Bravin; IT and marketing manager, Kris Dybdahl; and retail sales manager, Neil Viers. 

“They are genuinely nice people who care about the customer experience. The thing that sets them apart is their willingness to learn,” said David Solomon, vice president of sales and marketing at Peachtree Audio, a key Bjorn’s supplier. “Although they are one of the best retailers in the nation, education and staying up-to-date with technology is important to them all.”

Staying up-to-date poses its own challenges for indies with limited budgets, as they struggle against the e-commerce onslaught and the muscle of the big-boxes. But Bjorn’s, this year, has been using its resources to buck up its branding among established customers and new groups, including a younger demographic, through a combination of email, radio, TV, social media, billboards and in-store events. 

Bjorn’s is also strategizing on a showroom refresh. It is transforming its Sony section to focus on more solutions and fewer TVs. A NAD dealer, Dybdahl is in discussions with Lenbrook about its digital audio demonstration and display concept. “There are lots of things coming down the pike we’ve got to be ready for, like how we’re going to deal with 4K, with OLED,” Dybdahl said. “And they’re coming quickly.” 


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