The movement from New Jersey-based VPI to the recent virus shutdown was both swift and responsive. With nowhere safe to audition or purchase gear, the company decided to launch a direct sales site early on in the curve, both to assist consumers and dealers with a more direct route to delivery.
From the press release:
To help support both the customers and dealership we have launched our vpidirect.com site. The site was planned to be launched by 3rd quarter with a proper “Dealer and Customer Portal” and other functions. We have launched it ahead of schedule to help support the dealerships that have customers but are being forced to close and have no ability to have their customers in their store or have the ability to receive VPI shipments. If you have customers who are interested in VPI but are unable to work with them due to the situation they may let them reach out to us on their behalf. If the store is unable to receive shipments but the customer is willing to take delivery, VPI can drop ship the product to the customer’s house and even provide cartridge setup for any cartridges we have available at our factory (listed on our site).
It remains unclear how many other more traditional brick-and-mortar experiences will follow suit, but one thing is for sure – the nationwide lockdown in the US is doing no favors for hifi auditions.
VPI has always been very liberal with the live-streaming and e-events, especially on Facebook. You can find their page here, along with a few other updates that made their way across the calendar. In addition to the website launch, they are also currently offering a HW-40 Reference Isolation Foot trade in, a new upcoming Weisline Tonearm Cable launch and some serious support work for the front lines of the COVID19 effort.
According the company’s Facebook page, they have “taken a break on turntables” to start producing hand sanitizer which they are distributing free-of-charge to local communities. New York and the surrounding has been hit especially hard by the outbreak, and relief is welcome now more than ever. In addition to the hand sanitizer, VPI started producing face masks from turntable manuals, elastic belts and packing foam – all of which they already had on hand. They even recently transitioned their 3D printer capabilities to help manufacture ventilator parts for other companies.
Also on a positive note, high resolution streaming service Qobuz has pushed for more support for creators during a time when industry work dried up faster than the supply of TP in Los Angeles. 100% of Qobuz commissions from download sales will be passed along to the rights holders. The Qobuz Download store is different from the streaming service (they actually offer both options), so if you have the availability to support your favorite indy artists, now is the time to do so.