Sound Advice starts liquidation sales, will shut down

Sound Advice, a Florida-bred consumer electronics retailer with 22 stores, will fade into history by year's end, done in by the big discount stores and relentlessly lower prices that have become part of a digital world.

The liquidation sale started Wednesday at all four Sound Advice stores in the Tampa Bay area. All sales are final for discounts that started this week at 10 percent on TVs, DVD players and stereo receivers, 20 percent on speakers and 40 percent on power supplies and cable. Liquidators expect to clear out the last of the inventory and close the stores after the Christmas holiday.

About 50 Sound Advice workers in the bay area stand to lose their jobs, about 30 fewer than were employed there a year ago.

Stores also stopped accepting checks and selling gift cards, warranties or installation service. Manufacturer-backed financing is no longer offered.

The end came after Sound Advice parent Tweeter Home Entertainment decided to close all 94 of its remaining stores. Tweeter, based in Canton, Mass., was acquired out of bankruptcy last year for $38-million by Schultze Asset Management. The new owners chopped expenses, closed stores and reduced the retailer's visibility by shifting advertising to direct mail and some radio before giving up.

Once touted as a bounty for consumer electronics stores, the spread of flat-screen and HDTV sets instead has become part of many chains' struggle to survive, including Tweeter, the defunct Rex stores and Circuit City, which this week closed 115 of its 714 stores. Discounters like Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target have aggressively become bigger players, as well as installers, as manufacturers continue to lower prices.

Based in Dania Beach, Sound Advice was founded as a single store in 1974 — partly bankrolled by $100,000 in laundered cash from a marijuana smuggler with ties to the gulf beaches of Pinellas County. The company later went public until being acquired by Tweeter for $61-million in 2001.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

Sound Advice starts liquidation sales, will shut down 11/05/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 10, 2008 1:18pm]

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