In the Spotlight: Gary Shapiro
On the eve of International CES, Shapiro spoke with Dealerscope about his new book, International CES, and the industry as a wholeJanuary 10, 2013 By Nancy Klosek
Dealerscope: One of this year’s CE Hall of Fame honorees, Bjorn Dybdahl, is a CE specialty dealer who forged a reputation as one of the great industry evangelists and an educator of new technologies. Do you think the role of specialty dealers can be preserved, despite all of the challenges they face?
Shapiro: Definitely, ecommerce has made it more challenging, and it’s a new form of competition for everyone, but 30 years ago, the big thing was catalog showrooms, and they scared the heck out of everyone. And there were the department stores that were going to kill everyone. There’s always something new that’s going to come on and threaten something old; that’s what our industry is about. Half of my career has been spent fighting the old industries.
For instance, there’s the fight on Capitol Hill now between Pandora and the radio industry. Pandora is paying half their revenue to royalties; radio broadcasters pay zero, so they’re trying to preserve paying nothing and they want the new guys to pay a lot. That’s who we are, and what we do.
One challenge is the Internet sales tax issue; that’s something we’ve worked on for over a year. And that could be voted on in this Congress.
I still think, with things like Ultra HD, which I am passionate about, that it won’t be a huge Internet product, at least not for a while. The specialty dealer has to show how that works and introduce people to it. You can’t get a sense of what it is unless you physically see it. It’s big, and it should be installed, and there’s a service opportunity for this new technology. There are the Bjorns, and there’s Cowboy Maloney’s in Mississippi, and people like Dan Pidgeon at Starpower. He has this gorgeous place in Dallas and is tearing it down and renovating it to build something better. And Michael Pope of Audio Video Interiors in Cleveland, who showed me what he’s done in partnering with others who design wine cellars and kitchens to create a great experience area, a space where you’re even able to play golf electronically. And there was just an LG Ultra HD event at California’s Video & Audio Center, where the lines were out the door.