It may be Newmarket’s most iconic store you’ve never heard of, but The Sound Store will soon be celebrating its quarter-century anniversary, and new owners Peter Hollins and Chris Du Toit have been busy with the renovation and rebrand.
“Many people know the place as the ‘Bose store’,” Peter tells Verve as we wonder past some seriously impressive décor that highlights the even more impressive high-tech kit, “but following the revamp, we’re determined to transform it from a traditional hi-fi store into an experience centre.”
And what an experience it is.
Gone are the former window-clogging promotional posters as natural light floods the all-new open-plan showroom that now resembles a fashionable loft apartment that gives way to an ‘outdoor’ area replete with a working bar.
“Sales has changed,” Peter continues, “people can get anything online. However, the problem is that they don’t know what to do with the equipment once they get it. Here, they can experience the store, and experience the sound and what can be achieved through a multiroom-audio setup.”
“Our clients aren’t those just looking for the cheapest deal,” adds Chris. “They are generally time-starved and want solutions not cardboard boxes. They want to talk to someone that they can count on, that they can trust. For example, if someone wants to buy a Ferrari, they don’t go to different places for the different parts to be built when they return home. They come to us and say, ‘Supply me my Ferrari, and take a couple of laps with me around the track.’”
And so on to the track we go.
The luxurious imitation home-cum-studio has been set up to showcase automated aural possibilities and beyond, by way of three living rooms, a kitchen, a man-cave, and a garden (and, did we mention the working bar?).
The first two living areas are all about minimalism, the ‘Invisible Room’ boasting behind-the-wall speakers that are truly invisible and a television that rises on command from a hidden enclave. All is controlled via an app or small metallic automation pads around the size of a coaster. Here the system is supplied by bespoke experts, Basalte. All TVs come courtesy of Samsung: “The Sound Store provides the best of Samsung for sale.”
Next up, is the ‘Bose Room’ where speakers just a few inches tall throw out sound that vibrates through your chest. “There’s a minimalist trend at the moment, with women in particular saying that it’s time to move on regarding their husbands’ large speakers, but they don’t want to deprive him of the sound,” says Peter. “Here are the solutions. Everything is also connected to Apple TV, and Alexa is hooked up for voice control.”
The final living room area is called the ‘Sonos Room’ where the stars of the show are undoubtedly the hanging speakers that look more like pendant lights. “With these home systems you can control what music is played through any speakers throughout the home or garden,” Peter says. “We can fully automate your home so that you can switch on the music and the fire ready for when you get home. We’re utilising automation through audio—sound is the first frontier and then you build the automation capabilities as you go.”
“I’ve been in the custom-install market for eight years, in charge of automation, home security, access control and so on,” says Chris. “So, a lot of the ideas you see in this store have come from my experience with previous customers, discovering what it is that they want to see. Here at the Sound Store we’ve set it up in a way that people can come in and here and say, ‘Yeah, I get it, that makes sense.’ When you go into traditional tech stores and see 70 televisions linked up next to each other, it’s like being a chameleon in a Smarties box, you don’t know what colour to change in to. We offer a holistic service, and this is the first store of its kind in the country, we believe.”
The pair are regularly commissioned to set-up customers’ baches, second homes and yachts, “from Kaitaia down to Queenstown”.
The ‘Sound Bar’ section of the store showcases available sound bar capabilities “with the push of button”, while the ‘Man Cave’ shows off gear like home theatres and PA systems for musicians. “We’ll be a one-stop shop for that too,” says Peter.
The garden area currently contains that bar, plants and some super ambient lighting, with plans in place to add murals of outdoor scenes. The fully automated kitchen sports a drop-down coffee maker and microwaves and an automated Samsung fridge with a touchscreen TV that can be used to not only keep track of your favourite shows while cooking, but to see what’s running low inside without having to open the door. You can even access the internal camera on your phone while out shopping should you forget what needs replacing.
“The kitchen will also be used for workshops,” says Chris. “To go through what is available on the market and to provide end user training sessions on, say, how to use Spotify. It’s the stuff that people don’t know that we concentrate on, that’s what makes us different. That’s our story.”
The Sound Store also cleverly works with other local businesses to showcase the likes of flooring (Creative Flooring), interior design (Allium), nail-free decking (Shadowdeck), blinds solutions (Santa-Fe) and a stone wall (Craft Stone) so that their customers can see the complementary possibilities—ideal for those seeking inspiration during their renovations.
“We want to show people how it can all come together,” says Peter. “And we make sure that the person who buys the system walks out of here knowing how to use it. If there are any issues, we’ll come around and sort it, you just don’t get that kind of service anywhere else.”