When Barrie Donaldson opened his audio video repair business on Comox Avenue in 1985, televisions were made of large glass cathode ray tubes, and consumers were excited if the cumbersome unit came with a remote control. Fast forward to 2012, it is now commonplace to own a sleek flat screen TV with universal remote controls that operate a wide range of household technology with the click of a button.
After 26 years repairing equipment on site and via house calls, Audio Video Tech will be closing its doors. As much as many in the community will miss the personalized service that Donaldson and long-time employees Jim Papp and Jenny Nylund provide it is no longer cost-effective to repair aging equipment as technology advances, and manufacturers mass-produce products with smaller and less expensive parts.
“There’s going to be a huge void in the market for a small business person who can fix what’s broken,” says Donaldson. “Everybody asks me what they’ll do without the service AVT provides. A lot of people don’t want to throw away their television over a small broken part.”
Parts needed for repair are becoming hard to find, and repair shops like Audio Video Tech are no longer viable. When the small business closes its doors this summer, Comox Valley residents may have to travel as far as Parksville, Nanaimo or Victoria to have their audio video equipment serviced. When items break, consumers will be forced to buy new, or scour garage sales and thrift shops for deals.
Donaldson is nostalgic when he talks about the technology he has worked with over the past 30 years. He recalls the great sound quality of vinyl record players hooked up to home stereo systems in an era where a tweeter referred to a speaker system capable of high audio frequency and friends connected over coffee instead of Facebook. DVD players and blu-ray players, once cutting edge, are being pushed aside to make room for netscape and itunes. Ipads and kindles have replaced stereos and paperback novels. Yet as much as Donaldson has seen technology change over the years a strong sense of community has been a mainstay.
“As technology shifts and changes, the friendships and sense of kinship that have been built around this locally-owned and operated business will remain life-long,” Donaldson said.
He is quick to add that staff, dealers and manufacturers he has had the fortune to work with have been the backbone of his business.