Aiming to open in mid-November, the showroom at 1913 N. Milwaukee Ave. will be Cambridge Audio’s only store in the world, according to Gregg Chopper, Cambridge Audio’s director of Americas.
The store will also double as an office, with a small team of Cambridge Audio employees using an area in the back to handle customer service, e-commerce, marketing and other tasks.
“It’s an experiment… It’s more of a brand experience and an opportunity to raise the brand profile,” Chopper said of the showroom.
If it ends up not resonating — no pun intended— with consumers, Chopper said the audio equipment maker will still use the space as an office.
Established in 1968, Cambridge Audio historically sells its products through retail distributors. Nearby, Cambridge Audio products can be found at Wicker Park’s Decibel Audio, 1429 N. Milwaukee Ave., and at Lakeview’s Saturday Audio Exchange, 1021 W. Belmont Ave.
Chopper said that the decision to open a physical storefront stemmed from changing customer needs.
“Some customers want to buy directly from a brand, and the new showroom will allow them to do that, plus hear how the products sound in a listening room,” Chopper said.
Adam Morgenstern, co-owner of Decibel Audio, which has been selling products from Cambridge Audio for 15 years, said that Decibel plans to continue being a Cambridge Audio distributor after the store opens.
“We believe the best way to buy audio gear is to hear it in person, so we are glad Cambridge is supporting the retail buying experience in our neighborhood. Cambridge is a great line and we encourage people to stop in our store, where they can hear it with a variety of speakers and also compare Cambridge to other lines we carry. In person listening and the ability to compare products is the best way to ensure you get the best system and the best value,” Morgenstern said in a written statement.
Among the 30 or more brands at Decibel, Cambridge Audio is one of the top sellers, Morgenstern said.
“We’ve always thought that Cambridge is an excellent value for the money. We have a number of products from them on display now, but have limited space, so it’s certainly not all they offer,” Morgenstern said.
Chopper said he thinks that the two stores will complement each other. “We will work in conjunction. If someone wants something we don’t have, or it will take a few days to ship and they need it now, we can see if Decibel has it and refer them there,” he said.
The Cambridge Audio storefront will sell a wide range of items, including headphones, turntables, speakers and a new flagship series of amplifiers called Edge (starting at $3,000). In the listening room, folks can bring in a record and play it on Cambridge’s equipment to hear how it sounds.
Sales of Cambridge Audio’s SE1 in-ear headphones, which cost $50 per pair, will benefit the Merit School of Music in the West Loop. Half of proceeds from each pair of the headphones sold at Cambridge Audio will go to the school.
Ultimately the showroom also aims to be a place for music lovers to congregate.
“There will be a wall when you walk in, where bands can post their shows. We want to encourage people to come in and hang out,” Chopper said.
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