A small business such as ours is hallmarked primarily by the people who work there and by the people who shop there.

 Nobody’s perfect … and we can certainly exemplify that principle.

 In this world of the anonymous click to buy we are exactly the opposite of that. 

 I wonder if that makes people frightened of our potentially undue familiarity. Perhaps the friendliness is sometimes construed as inappropriate by people who are unaccustomed to this particular specialist retail environment. Indeed it’s plausible that they may see it as being a type of manipulative CIA style fakery designed to imbue an artificial sense of comfort and confidence.

 We aren’t that clever actually.

 We do really like our customers though. And that’s no accident.

 There is a particular type of person who is led by a love of music and the machinery thereof to seek out a store such as ours. Those people are invariably more interesting and diverse in character and preferences than someone who simply shops for a brand name.

 Indeed I cont amongst my very best friends people whom I have met through them being customers of Carlton Audio Visual.

 Likewise my colleagues both in Carlton Audio Visual are not simple hirelings but are largely connected by a long term family or friend.

 Suppliers who try and deal with us conventionally … fail. We are simply intolerant of the besuited tier one CE representative with their targets and incentives. We love those people who love their product and purveyance relationships for their own sake.

Our most effective distributor dealings are with people connected by community and relationships who are motivated by more than the mere sale.

 It is of particular concern to me as a proprietor that we need to be able to offer a path for personal development within the small company that justifies the very high potential of the people that I work with. (Because the bitter truth is that they could get higher pay by jumping ship and utilising their acquired talents in a larger company …) To some degree we have succeeded in this staff nurturation through sponsoring a high tech talent base by allowing individuals to pursue their own compatible passions within the company.

 Consequently we have a fairly unique range of in-house competencies across high end audio and cinema, home automation and network development and integration, and Linn LP12 upgrades …

 Needless to say I remember most particularly the clients that we spent time with and with whom we started the empathic building purveyance process but who for one reason or another didn’t consummate the relationship by purchase. In this business there are no neutral encounters.

 I suspect that some of our failures in client relationships are due to people actually being uncomfortable with our high consultation and impression management process. I can quite understand people who just want to buy a brand without the complications and expectations of assay or the exposure to the wider variegations and depth of the marketplace.

 Our business type is designed to attract high research enthusiast consumers … “Fanatics Welcome” … and also those clients who are more experienced and savvy and can recognise purveyance values other than those force fed by mass marketers and tier one brand messages. There are a lot of these people around and they are now tending to purchase Record Players …

 When I had real jobs ... Working at a university or as a professional manager of someone else's company ... I always maintained that essential secularity of employ and domestic. I didn't socialise with my colleagues beyond the institutional events and the concept of having out of boundary dealings with clients never even entered my thoughts.

In the UK it was always expected by my teachers and family that my future would be some form of subsumption to an institution. In my case that was expected to be a university possibly followed by a chemical multinational.

Indeed studying management at RMIT in the late eighties on of the many mantras of the time was to avoid intra organisational entanglements and to keep an absolute separation of family from your employ. This was partly no doubt that one’s family was meant to be an oasis from the anticipated executive stresses of the thrusting career minded ladder climber, perhaps also that it enabled one as a manager to iterate changes to ones subordinate's terms and conditions of employment that would have been incompatible with normal human values of friendship, family, and decency.

Opening Carlton Audio Visual was in some ways a rebellion against the values of self sacrifice to an institution that I had been steadily ingrained with through secondary and tertiary education.

It was coming to Australia in the eighties and meeting “New Australians”, some of whom had been refugees, whose idea of work was to set up a business of some kind, any kind, and then go forth and multiply their family and community, that broke my British institutional paradigm.

So this has culminated in our boxing day sale just gone by, when we not only had the most delightful rush of customers through the doors in what has become a most important sacrificial day of retail, but it was a day where my wife and I worked with our son and daughter and my Partner with his son along with the son of one of my oldest friends. Many of the customers who came in were people we had known for decades.

The till draw rang happily and boxes of lovely hi fi were taken away to new homes in the suburbs. It was bliss.

To think I could have ended up working for a multinational chemical company …