October 19, 2010 in Business

Huppin’s readies second store for Wednesday opening

By The Spokesman-Review
Christopher Anderson photo

Chris DelPizzo helps stock the new North Division Street Huppin’s store Friday. The store opens Wednesday.
(Full-size photo)

Apple products among inventory

Along with HDTVs, cameras, camcorders, headphones and home theater systems, the new Huppin’s store on North Division will start selling Apple products.

Adding Apple’s chic, stylish gadgets and devices to the Huppin’s product line amounts to a major coup for its customers, said company president Murray Huppin.

Apple opened its own retail store in downtown Spokane in September. Huppin said that had no effect on his effort to become an Apple reseller. Apple already has two area resellers — Best Buy, and Strong Solutions, both of which sell a full line of Apple computers, iPhones and iPads.

Huppin said the north Spokane and downtown stores will both sell Apple computers, iPods and accessories. It doesn’t have a franchise, at this point, to sell Apple’s two hottest products, the iPhone and iPad, he said.

The OneCall online business run by Huppin’s will not sell any Apple products.

When Huppin’s Hi-Fi, Photo & Video opens its new store on North Division Street on Wednesday, the Spokane electronics retailer won’t bother renting one of those super-bright searchlights to call attention to the event.

The locally owned company is adding extra lighting inside the store, which company President Murray Huppin said is his way of making sure customers feel part of something modern, sleek and technologically hip.

Much like Apple’s retail stores, the second Huppin’s location is clean, well-lit and ultra-organized from edge to edge.

The store’s 8,500 square feet are laid out in modules, each with signs indicating which room is the “design center,” “audio center” or other choices.

Last week, walking through the store as work continued, Huppin decided the ceiling-mounted LED lights originally chosen weren’t bright enough.

He had other lights installed, saying, “We decided we needed more lights in there, to throw more illumination onto the main area.”

The company declined to say what it spent on buying and renovating the building at 8016 N. Division. Huppin visited numerous consumer electronics stores nationwide and tried to combine the best elements in this location, he said.

The building was once the home of Magnolia Hi-Fi, then became the Furniture Superstore. Huppin joined an LLC partnership that bought the building last year and began planning the remodeling.

“We started with a plain shell, which gave us the chance to take the design to the next level,” Huppin said. Huppin’s downtown store, on West Main, has been cobbled together, he said.

“There are four separate old storefronts where our downtown store is now,” he said.

In the new store, two rooms showcase home theater systems and higher-quality HD TVs, speakers and accessories.

One large display is devoted completely to headphones; the store will stock more than 200 headphones, with many priced below $20 but ranging up to premium headsets like the Grado PS1000, which retails at $1,695.

That focus stems from market research that shows people now spend more per capita on headphones than on speakers, Huppin said. “The headphone business is all about fashion, style and motion,” he added.

Huppin said the store also will focus on showing customers how to use technology to share photos, music, video and information easily from one device to another.

The new store will have a staff of about 20 people.

Huppin said that the company still is “very committed to the downtown store,” noting that the two stores will offer essentially the same merchandise and service.

“One big difference,” he said, “is the North Division store will have 120 parking places.”

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