Business

The intersection of technology, life and Ridgetop Boulevard

When people step into the Silverdale Best Buy, they will be struck by the interactive displays and the futuristic look of the enormous store.

Electronics aficionados will be in heaven when the store opens Friday, Oct. 26.

The building at 9551 Ridgetop Blvd., vacated by Fred Meyer last spring, has been completely renovated. It is open, bright and bears a huge logo reading “The intersection of technology and life” on the concrete floor just inside the door.

A tour of the store bears out that slogan.

The store carries home office products like computers, printers and software; more than 40,000 CDs; car stereos and an installation bay; home appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators; and a huge selection of televisions, stereos and DVD players.

For the last couple weeks, managers have been training the store’s 130 employees. Small groups of blue-shirted workers, many of them young, walked around the store learning about the products they soon will be selling.

Ryan Demerick, a student at Olympic College, was being trained about media products on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

“One of the the biggest things right now is upping my product knowledge and learning to ask lifestyle questions,” said Demerick, a part time employee.

Said Jasmine Houle, also being trained in the media division, “One reason I wanted to work here was because of all the video games.”

Some of the product training will come directly from sales representatives, said Lonny Schmitt, general manger of the 45,000-square-foot Silverdale Best Buy.

It’s no accident the sales crew is non-commissioned, said Schmitt, who attributes the company’s success to this factor.

“That’s a big deal with us because it allows us to take care of our customers’ needs, not just our pocketbooks,” Schmitt said.

Best Buy, the nation’s largest retailer of consumer electronics, personal computers and entertainment software, has grown at an exponential rate. The company currently has 425 stores all over the country and expects to have 650 by 2004, according to Best Buy spokeswoman Connie Stelter. The firm plans to venture into international waters in 2002, when it is slated to open 15 stores in Canada.

Best Buys in Lynnwood and Federal Way also are set to open Oct. 26, Schmitt said.

In the past four years the store has been profitable, logging double-digit profit gains, according to a Newstream article posted on the MSNMoneycentral Web site.

However, the recent terrorist attack and resulting economic slowdown have taken a toll on the company’s profits.

Best Buy executives announced Oct. 11 that they expect third-quarter, same-store sales to be lower than previously anticipated. Sales at stores open for at least a year are expected to be flat or down 2 percent in the quarter; a Sept. 18 company forecast called for growth of up to 2 percent, according to a Reuters article on MSNMoneycentral.

Stelter said the firm is conscious of the economic slump but they are not deterred by it.

“We’re staying the course,” Stelter said.

Said Schmitt, “The edge for Best Buy is our non-commissioned atmosphere, our product selection and the ability to come in and play with stuff. We also have the best prices — we’re extremely aggressive in making sure we’re priced right.”

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