Family-owned Myrtle Beach electronics store closing its doors

A Myrtle Beach family-owned electronics store is closing, after more than 20 years in business.

The owners of AVAC - Audio, Video and Appliance Corp. - say it's nearly impossible today to make money selling TVs and electronics, in competition with big box stores.

Sometime within the next 60 days, the store will liquidate and go out of business. Owner Keith Ferrell says he and his family started out 23 years ago as the place to go for Tvs.

But he says the profit margin on televisions has eroded to practically nothing and he notes there are now five Walmarts within a five mile radius of his store.

"On top of that, we've got two wholesale clubs, we've got Best Buys and HH Greggs and Sears stores, and all those guys are just less than a mile away from me," Ferrell said. "And we're all fighting for that same small piece of the pie."

George McKenna of Myrtle Beach advises small businesses as a volunteer for the Grand Strand chapter of SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives.

McKenna says he feels bad for businesses like AVAC that have found it difficult to survive.

"Particularly businesses that have been in business for a long time, that the situation when they started out was so different than what it is now and it's difficult in certain areas to continue to compete," he said.

McKenna says in order to survive, small businesses have to find a niche, something that the big box stores can't or won't do.

"One of the things about a competitive environment is the fact that there are always things that are changing and as a result of the changes there are always new niches that are developing," said McKenna.

Ferrell says that niche used to be offering better customer service and ten years ago, people were willing to pay extra for that. Not so today, he says.

"Find out what that company's going to do for you when you buy that inexpensive TV. Cheaper don't mean better. Cheaper is cheaper for a reason," Ferrell added.

Ferrell acknowledges he probably should have diversified and sold bedding or other products, but he's been selling TVs since he was 17.

Now, he admits he's scared.

"I'm going to miss this store, I'm going to miss this business. I really am. And it's a little tough."

Ferrell says when he lost money during what should have been his best two months, November and December, the writing was on the wall.

But he says Myrtle Beach has been great over the years and he plans to stay in the area. Ferrell hopes he can re-emerge doing something else and bring the same loyal customers back.