Plugged in: Westfair keeps current with electronics evolution over 50 years
Updated 3:10 pm, Monday, July 15, 2013
For owner Glenn Levinson, his staff and family at Westfair TV Audio on Saturday afternoon, it was a time to both reflect and look ahead as the business celebrated its 50th anniversary.
To mark the occasion at the store at 1961 Post Road, sales representatives offered equipment demonstrations, entries into a raffle for a 32-inch flat-screen television and headphones, giveaways and music performed by local band Girls on Bikes, which includes Glenn's sons Dylan and Connor.
Standing in the showroom of the now 3,000-square-foot, two-story store, Levinson recounted the evolution of the electronics business over the last five decades. "My father, Mort, had an electronics background from the Navy, as a radar technician during the Korean War," he said. "When he got out of the service, in 1958, he bought an electronics/sporting goods store in Ridgefield -- Ridgefield Electronics. They sold everything from radios to records and even fishing gear."
In 1962, Mort Levinson decided to settle in Fairfield, and opened a store in the Westfair Shopping Center in Westport. Mort's father, Sam, helped open the store. Westfair TV was born. "Radios with tubes, and black-and-white TVs from Zenith, GE and RCA were the main items," Levinson said. "The store did both sales and repair, and installed house antennas."
Levinson's father rented that space, but as business boomed, he built a one-level permanent space in the same complex and moved the business into it. Soon after, in the early 1970s, the color TV boom hit. "Sylvania, GTE and RCA were the players then," he remembered.
In 1977, Mort Levinson was driving to Fairfield to pick up his wife and passed a small, ranch-style stucco fish market, Fairfield Seafood, with a "For Sale" sign in front of it. He called the number and made a deal to buy the place. That was the foundation for Westfair's new home, which he renovated and expanded, at 1961 Post Road.
When Glenn Levinson graduated from college in 1984, he joined the business and launched a video-rental enterprise. He also started automating and computerizing the business' accounting and records. Wanting to expand, he added a second floor in the late '80s, making that the service/repair level.
As Mort Levinson made the transition to semi-retirement, Glenn purchased the business from him in 1991. In the mid-to-late-90s, he introduced the custom audio business, with a demo room, which opened the door to the home theater business, distributed audio and automated systems.
In the 2000s, with new people moving into the area from New York City, demand grew for home theater systems, he said. "We had triple-digit growth for five years," Levinson of that time, giving a lot of credit to Mark Paquette, head of Westfair's custom division.
Asked about the secret to Westfair's survival, Mort Levinson said, "Changing with the times. Color TV was probably the most significant change in the industry, followed by the digital age. We have also been blessed with loyal clients -- second and third generations."
For more information about Westfair TV Audio, visit www.westfairtv.com or call 203-255-1671.