The tiny TV & Music Center on 75th Avenue here is a shrine to all things Sony, from 9-inch televisions to $10,000 home theater systems that include satellite dishes, 61-inch screens and multiple speakers.
All of that and more is available at any of the large chain electronics stores. Yet two generations of the Narcisi family have managed "a very good living" out of the TV & Music Center, just off Blind Pass Road.
"We found our niche," said Bruce Narcisi.
"Customer sales and service," said his wife, Cynthia Narcisi. "We sell or service to customers' children. We even have (customers') grandchildren come in."
TV & Music Center opened its doors on Blind Pass Road in 1958 selling televisions and musical instruments and giving music lessons. Vincent Narcisi, father of Bruce Narcisi, went to work for the original owner and bought the business in 1974. In 1983, the store moved around the corner to its present location. Vincent Narcisi is retired and the store no longer sells black-and-white televisions or TVs with tubes or musical instruments. The music lessons stopped years ago.
Bruce Narcisi worked at the center part time while he was in school, joining the business full time in 1976. His wife, Cynthia, came to the center full time in 1995. Dennis Iverson, a salesman and technician at the center for 15 years, is the only nonfamily employee.
The shop is small and probably would fit in one department of one of the chain stores. But it is packed with Sony equipment. There are several rows of televisions and stereo equipment. At the back is an area with a couch where one of the home theaters is set up.
As an official Sony dealership, the center is authorized to sell and repair Sony products. It also belongs to a national buying group, and Bruce Narcisi said that enables him to compete in price with the chains. He also is hooked up with a decorating company on the Internet with whom he exchanges customers.
"We can compete with anybody in the marketplace," he said.
Narcisi customer service includes making installation and service calls to customers' homes and free delivery. Bruce Narcisi said the center gets about 50 percent of its business from customer referrals.
One of those customer "advertisers" is Bill Horne, a retired Northwest Airlines captain who lives in St. Pete Beach.
"If I tell 20 pilots, they will all go down there in a heartbeat," Horne said.
Horne has high praise for the TV & Music Center where he has been buying Sony televisions for more than 20 years. He has owned five.
"I do my best to shop on the beach," Horne said. "I just don't care for the big corporations. I like to look at things and talk about them. If he (Bruce Narcisi) doesn't know, he will call up and get the information."
Horne said the center backs up its sales and has even repaired televisions for free that were out of warranty.