Lafayette Radio Electronics Corporation
was a radiomanufacturer and retailer based in Syosset, New York. The company sold radio sets, amateur radio equipment, citizen's band (CB) radios, and other communications equipment, as well as electronic components and tools through retail outlets as well as by mail-order
Established in the 1920s, Lafayette Radio Electronics (LRE) became a thriving mail-order catalog business; the electronic components it sold were useful to amateur radio operators and electronic hobbyists in areas where such components were not available in local retail outlets. Lafayette's main competitors were Radio Shack, Allied Radio, Heathkit, and "mom and pop" (independent) radio dealers throughout the United States. Early Lafayette Radio stores were located in Jamaica, N.Y. and Manhattan in the mid-1950s. The electronics kits were produced in the Jamaica facility.
Lafayette advertised heavily in major U.S. consumer electronics magazines of the 1960s and 1970s, particularly Stereo Review, High Fidelity, Audio, Popular Mechanics, and Popular Electronics, among others. The company offered a free 400-page catalog filled with descriptions of vast quantities of electronic gear, including microphones, tape recorders, speakers, and other components that could be obtained for free by mailing in a coupon
What was demise of Lafayette Radio Electronics?
CB Radio !, Yes, CB Radio.
Until the 1960s, many independent retailers in some markets became Lafayette Radio "Associate Stores", which were displaced when the company expanded. These stores were supported from headquarters at 111 Jericho Turnpike in Syosset, NY and a warehouse in Hauppauge, NY. A limited selection of product was stocked, with full access to a catalog with a wide variety of parts, tubes, cameras, musical instruments, kits, gadgets and branded gear that could be ordered and delivered through the local store. The company made major investments in what were called sound rooms to demonstrate hi-fi equipment, using custom switch panels and acoustic treatments in an attempt to duplicate a home listening environment and offer fair comparison with an assortment of branded hi-fi gear.Managers were rewarded for maximizing gross profit margins and inventory "turns", which led to frequent out-of-stock situations, often remedied by frequent cross-town inter-store transfers. Each store had a repair shop on site with a part-time technician. Stores ranged in size from 2000 to 5,000 square feet (460 m).By the late 1970s, Lafayette expanded to major markets across the country, struggling to compete with Radio Shack, which was purchased by Tandy Leather Co in 1963.
Lafayette ran into major financial difficulty when the FCC authorized a new Citizens Band ("CB") spectrum with 40 channels. Lafayette's buyers had firm commitments to accept delivery of thousands of the older design units, and were not able to liquidate the inventory without taking a serious loss. Eventually, all of the old CB radios were sold for under $40
Unsold inventory was literally shovelled into dumpsters overnight to vacate the store.
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