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"off duty" 1970 - 1997 - eine Werbezeitung für's US Militär

Die in diesem amerikanischen (Freizeit-) Shopping-Magazin angeprie- senen Produkte waren auschließlich amerikanischen und kanadischen Militärangehörigen ausserhalb der USA zugänglich - also zu kaufen - vor allem zu ganz ungewöhnlich (verblüffend) niedrigen US $ Military-Preisen. Zu der einführenden "off duty" Seite geht es hier lang.

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Über die Audio Clubs
Ein glorifizierender Artikel vom Herausgeber Walter Rios

In diesem Artikel werden die Sonnenseiten des besonderen Vertriebs im steuerfreien Military Bereich werbewirksam dargestellt, um die Kaufanreize der Leser - sowohl der jungen alleinstehenden GIs als auch der nach Deutschland mitgekommenen Ehefrauen der älteren Soldaten und der Offiziere - zu beflügeln. Denn davon lebte diese "off-duty" Zeitschrift.

Ein Teil der dargestellten Historie enstpricht den damaligen Gegebenheiten, ein Teil ist etwas weit von der Wahrheit weg. Dazu mußte man als ein Eingeweihter (also als ein Mitarbeiter) hinter den Kulissen zuhause sein, um das Geflecht aus Bereicherung, Begünstigung und Korruption und Bestechung in den Kreisen hinter dem Tresen zu durchschauen. Und vor allem, es ging um viel Geld, um sehr viel Geld. In einigen der frühen Boom-Jahre (1972 bis 1978) wurden um die Weihnachtszeit zig Hundert Millionen Dollar umgesetzt und es blieb viel davon in undurch- sichtigen "Spinnennetzen" hängen.

Noch ein Wort zum Konzept und zur Preisgestaltung:

Die europäischen oder lokalen Vertriebs-Niederlassungen der Hersteller, die Händler und die Importeure, egal wo sie ansässig waren, durften in den Audio-Clubs zwischen 15% und 20% auf den sogenannten "landed cost" Preis aufschlagen.

Diese Firmen agierten in diesem gnadenlosen Konkurrenzkampf weitgehend unabhängig von den eigentlichen Herstellern, die nur noch auf Stückzahlen aus waren. Alles andere war denen egal oder wurscht. Sie hatten mit ihren Werksabgabepreisen ihr Schäfchen - unabhängig von den Transportkosten - sowieso im trockenen, jedenfalls solange der Verkaufs-Boom andauerte.

Der verbliebene Profit oder Ertrag der Audio-Clubs - selbstverständlich erst nach Abzug aller "Kosten" - wurde der entsprechenden Lokalität, dem Commander der US Army, für soziale Zwecke "abgegeben". Es ist daher verständlich, daß bei einem Umsatz von zig Hundert Millionen Dollar immer noch ein erklecklicher Betrag übrig blieb. Ein nicht unwesentlicher Teil des "Ertrages" wurde aber für Vertriebs-Aktivitäten, sprich "verdeckte" Verkaufsprovisionen der sogenannten Repräsentanten (es waren in Wirklichkeit gesponserte Verkäufer), Abteilungsleitern und Club-Managern "untergebracht".

Also die here Vorstellung, diese angebliche "Nonprofit Organisation" namens Audio Club würde mit ihrer Tätigkeit oder Existens gemeinwohl-orientiert und uneigennützig das Wohl der Soldaten und deren Angehörigen im Auge haben, stimmte überhaupt nicht. Der inoffizielle Kampf der konkurrierenden Audio- und Photo- Clubs untereinander und zusätzlich gegen die PX'es und die Commissarries usw. war - genauso wie heute bei den ganzen Media-Märkten und Saturn-Märkten in unseren Ballungsgebieten - völlig verrückt und natürlich "geheim". Keiner der Kunden sollte ewas davon mitbekommen.

Jeder versuchte, soviel Umsatz wie nur möglich "auf Teufel komm raus" zu machen und so wurde der Wiesbadener Audi-Club mit einer großen Zahl von Hifi-Verkäufern in der "Mainz Kastel Storage Station" der größte Audio-Club auf der ganzen Welt. Daß dabei der lokale Commander jeweils mit von der Partie war, versteht sich von selbst.

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Off Duty / Europe / April 1972 - The Rise of the "Audio Clubs" .....

GIs wanted a special deal and got a phenomenon - a unique chance to latch onto incredible bargains - By WALTER B. RIOS im April 1972
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STOPPING IN at one of Germany's "Audio Clubs"

Selbst für deutsche Verhältnisse ein gigantisches Angebot - mit all seinen Schwächen der vesteckten Manipulation

STOPPING IN at one of Germany's audio clubs these days, we sometimes feel a little twinge of anxiety. Especially at one of the newest and flashiest of audio emporiums, such as the Rhein-Main Audio-Photo Center or the Wiesbaden club's spanking new quarters at Mainz-Kastel Air Station.

Can that eager young sales clerk talking specs with a customer be getting a little jaded, surrounded by such a glittering array of audio equipment? Is the customer so intent, comparing prices or talking the little woman into going along on buying really fancy speakers, that he takes the audio club deal for granted?

What we fear is that they may not have gotten The Message.

There is, indeed, a Message in the recent moves by clubs in Darmstadt and Wiesbaden, from damp and dingy basements to plush new showrooms better equipped than any we've seen anywhere in the world. And the message holds equally for little clubs trying to make it in refurbished quonset huts or service club attics, from the tip of Scotland to the boondocks of Greece and Turkey.

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A Marketing Phenomenon - ein irres Wachstum

The audio club is what the trade would call a Marketing Phenomenon. It's grown incredibly in the last decade, germinating out of a peculiar chemistry seemingly without precedent - and, conceivably, one that can never be repeated.

Result of this phenomenon is the building of an important new industry, development of a wholesome and enjoyable hobby for millions and the existence of a unique opportunity for military personnel to latch onto incredible values.

What triggered the formation of clubs was the realization that a military man stationed overseas is not unlike an air traveler in a dutyfree shop. He's entitled to a special tax-free deal on his purchases. Given a little electronics training as part of his MOS, the trooper started to hanker back in the late 1950s for something better in the way of audio equipment than the general run of consoles and portable sets then on view at the PX. He read about hi-fi in magazines such as High Fidelity and wrote letters to some of the manufacturers.

Den Anfang machte "the Fisher Radio Corp." ........

It was The Fisher Radio Corp., the leading U.S. maker of components, that first got the message - the soldier wanted a special deal. So Fisher offered him a quantity discount.

If the GI talked it up with other guys in the unit or neighbors in the stairwell and they placed a joint order for 12 or more pieces of equipment, they could buy at dealer cost, better than 30 per cent off the Stateside price.

The word spread fast, especially among fighter pilots at Bitburg Air Base. Pretty soon, hundreds of families in the housing area had a Fisher receiver and a couple of fancy loudspeakers to show off to visitors.

Those were the early days of stereo broadcasting, and Bitburg's base commander at the time, a confirmed audio enthusiast, Col. Bud Thompson, even set up an FM-multiplex transmitter in his quarters and trained his wife to operate his array of tape decks. His private radio station, WBAB, broadcast music in stereo, day and night, throughout the housing area.

Bitburg's Amateur Radio Club soon became the favorite watering hole for military audio fans Europe wide. Many a TDY visitor to Bitburg and Spangdahlem's tactical fighter wings hustled over to the radio club to pick up hi-fi goodies. As word continued to spread, more manufacturers got the message and offered components to the military at special prices. And thanks to the low overhead of audio clubs, practically all the savings were passed on to customers.

"The audio boom" tat sein Übriges .....

Visitors to audio clubs can discover stereo on an eyeball-to-electrode basis.

It's the low prices, more than any other factor, that built the audio boom. The market would hardly exist had audio equipment been available only through normal PX channels.

Because the exchange could never hope to offer a range of costly components broad enough to tickle the audiophile's fancy. Also, the exchange hasn't the technically trained personnel needed to argue spec-for-spec with military customers (the clubs employ moonlighting GIs with technical know-how.) The PX isn't geared to build new markets - its role is to service markets that are already pre-sold.

The PX today does a brisk business in audio components, sticking to a relatively narrow range of fast-selling items at competitive prices. It's simply sharing in a harvest generated largely by the clubs - and the market will keep bearing fruit only as long as the clubs continue to thrive.

Which is why the audio club privilege must be jealously guarded by all concerned. By the military customer, of course, since it is one of the best deals he has.

By club custodians and their staffs, because the club boom gives them an unprecedented opportunity to provide the military community with morale-boosting extra services.

By audio manufacturers and their representatives, who have a good thing going, too - they are at the forefront of the home entertainment industry, audio clubs having assumed prime importance as a market for a number of the world's hi-fi equipment manufacturers.

Audio-Clubs seien keine Konkurrenz für PX people, na ja ...

And even by PX people, a few of whom might like to think they would have all this business if there were no clubs - but there's no way they could match the clubs' services, and responsible Exchange officials have recognized and acknowledged this. Today's visitor to a major audio club sees the broadest selection of components offered by any retail store in the world.

Prices are, on average, the lowest in the world. There's a staff of young sales personnel to demonstrate the equipment and offer knowledgeable guidance. When you buy, the back-room technicians hook up your new components to make sure everything's in order and show you how to twiddle the knobs.

If you're all thumbs, some clubs even provide an in-home hook-up at moderate cost (a service that would cost an arm and a leg back home). If you blow a transistor, the club's repair department has the know-how to fix it. And when you're hungry for more music to play, the club's tape library provides the facilities to make bargain-basement dubbings.

Aus dem Kellerdasein ins Sonnenlicht katapultiert ....

Audio clubs have indeed moved out of the basement into the sunlight. Oldtimers on the club circuit who've witnessed the struggle and helped nurture the clubs' growth for more than a decade are still rubbing their eyes in disbelief.

There are only a handful around, however. The crew you see around the clubs, on both sides of the counter, are mostly new on the scene. They don't know how touch-and-go it was in the early days and may not know how lucky we all are.

We hope they get The Message.

By WALTER B. RIOS im April 1972

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Um mal ein Gefühl zu bekommen, um welche Dimensionen es da ging, hier eine Liste der Clubs :

Where the audio-photo clubs are (also : damals gewesen sind - in 1972)
(Diese Liste war in vielen öffentlichen zugänglichen Publikationen abgedruckt.)

Aschaffenburg Audio Club
Located in Kennedy Hall, Bldg. 20, Jaeger Kaserne, 875 Aschaffenburg.

Augsburg Audio Club
Building 209, Neusasser Str., Flak Casern, 89 Augsburg,

Bad Aibling Audio and Photo Shoppe
Building 352, USASAFS, 8202 Bad Aibling (45 min. from Munich),

Bamberg Audio Club
Located in Service Club Bldg. 7047, Warner Kaserne, 86 Bamberg,

Bitburg Audio & Photo Clubs
Building T-547, Bitburg Air Base, 552 Bitburg/Eifel,

Book Dept. Fund USC-4
USAREUR Combat Support Training Center, Hawkins Barracks, 8103 Oberammergau (near Garmisch).

Vilseck-AYA Audio Center
Combined Arms Training Center, 8453 Vilseck.

Eucom Audio-Photo Club
Building 2329, Hq. U.S. European Command, Patch Barracks, 7 Stuttgart-Vaihingen

Frankfurt Audio Club
Building 132 in the basement of the Frankfurt Playhouse, 152 Hansa Allee, 6 Frankfurt/M.,

Herzo Base Audio Club
8522 Herzogenaurach Flugplatz (near Nuernberg) Bldg. 1605.

Herzo Base Photo Club
Herzo Base NCO Open Mess. 8522 Herzogenaurach (near Nuernberg)

lllesheim-AYA Audio Club
Bldg. 6546, Storck Barracks, 8531 lllesheim (near Ansbach).

Kitzingen Hi-Fi Club
BOQ Building 169, Harvey Barracks, 871 Kitzingen,

Ramstein Audio Electronics Center
Building 2105, Ramstein Air Base, 6792 Ramstein,

Rhein-Main Audio-Photo Center
Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, Bldg. 349;

Schweinfurt Hi-Fi Annex
ECN 22, Bldg. 89, Conn Barracks Schweinfurt,

Sembach Audio Hobby Shop
Building 201, Sembach Air Base, 6751 Sembach,

Tempelhof Audio Club
Tempelhof Central Airport, 1 Berlin-Tempelhof;

Wiesbaden Audio-Photo Club (der größte in Europa)
Located at Mainz-Kastel Storage Station, Bldg. 2-A, opposite EES Shopper's Mart.

Camp New Amsterdam Audio and Photo Center
Located in Lobby of Camp New Amsterdam Base Theater, APO 09292, Tel. Soesterberg, Holland,

Edzell Audio Club
U.S. Navy Edzell, Brechin, Angus, Scotland.

SHAPE Professional Shop
SHAPE Headquarters, Casteau/Mons, Belgium.

Aviano Audio Hobby Shop
40th Tac Gp USAF, Aviano Air Base, APO 09293, Italy.

Nato Afsouth Audio Club
NATO Headquarters, Naples, Italy, AF-South Box 106,

AFSOUTH Camera Club
AFSOUTH Post, Bagnoli, Naples, Italy. AFSOUTH Box 160,

Vicenza Audio & Camera Club
Caserma Ederle, Bldg. 34, Vicenza, Italy.

Izmir Audio Club
c/o Gen. Del., APO 09224. Located 4th floor TUSLOG Dental Clinic Bldg. No. 18,

Incirlik Audio Club
CMR Box 509, APO 09289, Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

Karamursel Electronics Hobby Shop
Hq. TUSLOG, Detachment 94, APO 09324, near Istanbul, Turkey.

Karamursel Photo Hobby Shop
Box 423, TUSLOG Det. 94, Karamursel CD I, Turkey,

Iraklion Amateur Sound Club
Iraklion Air Station, Box 833, APO 09291 Iraklion, Crete.

Athens Audio Club
7206th Support Gp., APO 09223, Athens, Greece.

Torrejon Audio Electronics Center
Bldg. 231, Torrejon Air Base, Spain,
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