Radio & Television News
magazine was not normally in the practice of instructing retail outlet salesmen
and service shop owners in techniques for hacking their wares, but this article
in the June 1951 issue is an exception. In it, A.W.
Bernsohn, Managing Director of the National Appliance & Radio Dealers Association,
extensively outlines many tried and true schemes for use in convincing customers
that they really do need a new, reconditioned, or rental portable radio for those
lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer*. Those were the days long before
smartphones, when "portable" meant maybe smaller than a
breadbox, but powered by batteries rather than an AC outlet. If
any of the featured models appeal to your sense of nostalgia and you want to lay
you hands on one again, try eBay; eventually just about everything shows up there
(do a Saved Search if necessary to get an e-mail notification
when one is available). M. Bensohn even covers the ramification of
"W" of the Federal Reserve Act which has been around (even today) since 1933.
Lazy, Crazy, Hazy Days of Summer" by Nat King Cole.
Pick up Those Profits from Portables
By A. W. Bernsohn
National Appliance & Radio Dealers Assn.
(1) Stewart-Warner "Turnabout" a.c.·d.c.-battery. 4 tubes plus
rectifier. Color: forest green. Price $39.95. (2) Westinghouse Models 342P5, 343P5.
a.c.·d.c.-battery; 5 tubes plus rectifier. Colors: red-black (342P5). brown-tan
(343P5). (3) Air King Model A-520A. a.c.-d.c.-battery. 4 tubes plus rectifier; Color:
Ivory. Price $28.95. (4) Arvin Model 446-P, battery, 4 tubes. Colors: sun tan, burgundy,
(5) Crosley "Riviera" a.c.·d.c.-battery. Colors: New Brunswick and Salvador blue;
meadow and sea mist green; fez red and sport beige; saddle brown and beige; black.
Ward off that mid-summer sales and service slump by instituting an aggressive
"portable" campaign. This seasonable merchandise is a real gold mine.
As the brightest hope for relief from the traditional summer slump in radio service
and sales, pick up those profits from portables!
Every year the servicing and sales fraternity is reminded of this profitable
source of revenue but the man who goes out and gets his full share of the business
is as rare as winning a five-horse parlay.
Here's a check list of ideas. Not all of them will apply to your business but
chances are that you'll find some that will fit and others that will start you thinking
of adaptations that can be made to tailor them to your requirements.
Editor's Note: Unless otherwise stated, all portable receivers
shown in this article cover the standard broadcast band. Prices, where quoted, do
not include batteries and are those prevailing in the central and eastern sections
and are subject to change. For southern and Pacific Coast areas, prices may be higher
because of the differential in shipping charges prevailing.
There are 8 1/2 million portables in use today, ranging in age from this season's
purchases to receivers that have passed their fifth birthday. Not many of the receivers
made before 1947 are still around but that doesn't mean that there isn't plenty
that can be done along the servicing line even with these newer sets. This large
number of portables in the hands of the consumer means almost unlimited service
opportunities for the summer months, since such check-ups usually result in battery
sales, tube replacement, and both major and minor service jobs. It is business well
worth going after!
Since the portable is going places and will be subjected to the roughest treatment
given almost any receiving equipment in civilian use, it is important that all solder
joints be firm and the whole repair job be heavy duty. If you do a creditable job
on repairing portables, you'll get plenty of business - word-of-mouth advertising
is a powerful sales medium and a satisfied customer can give your portable business
a real shot-in-the-arm.
The technician's selling job also includes the task of persuading the vacationer
that since his portable will be his good and constant companion throughout the summer
it is deserving of a thorough check-up at the same time that his fishing tackle
and golf clubs receive their seasonal going over.
(6) Zenith Model G500. a.c.-d.c.-battery, b.c.-s.w., 5 tubes
plus rectifier. Color: black. Price $114.25. (7) Zenith Model G503. a.c.-d.c.-battery.
5 tubes plus rectifier. Colors: brown, black. Price $49.95. (8) Zenith Model 4G903,
a.c.-d.c.-battery. 4 tubes plus rectifier. Colors: blue, grey, black. Price $39.95.
(9) Hallicrafters Model 5R24. a.c.-d.c.-battery. 4 tubes plus
rectifier. Color: oyster grey. Price $34.95. (10) Hallicrafters Model S-72L. a.c.-d.c.-battery,
all-wave. 8 tubes plus rectifier. Color: brown. Price $119.95. (11) Emerson Model
646. a.c.-d.c.-ballery.4 tubes plus rectifier. Colors: maroon, saddle tan, green,
ivory. Price $29.95. (12) Emerson Model 656. a.c.-d.c.-battery. 5 tubes plus rectifier.
Colors: maroon, sand. Price $39.95. (13) Emerson Model 657. a.c.-d.c.-battery. 5
tubes plus rectifier. Color: simulated alligator. Price $44.95. (14) Philco Model
631. a.c.-d.c.-battery. 4 tubes plus rectifier. Colors: teal green, maroon, Caribbean
blue, Swedish red. Price $39.95. (15) Philco Model 633. a.c.-d.c.-battery. 5 tubes
plus rectifier. Color: genuine cowhide. (16) Philco Model 629. a.c.-d.c.-battery.
4 tubes plus rectifier. Colors: teal green, maroon, Price $34.95. (17) Philco Model
632. a.c.-d.c.-battery. 4 tubes plus rectifier: Color: maroon plastic with brass
trim. Price $49.95.
(18) RCA Model B411 battery, 4 tubes. Color: brown. Price $29.95.
(19) RCA Model BX-6, a.c.-d.c.-battery, 5 tubes plus rectifier. Color: brown with
aluminum. (20) RCA Model BX-55. a.c.-d.c.-battery, 4 tubes plus rectifier. Color:
maroon. (21) RCA Model BX-57. a.c.-d.c.-battery, 4 tubes plus rectifier. (22) Motorola
Model 51M1 a.c.-d.c.-battery. Colors: forest green, maroon (51M2). (23) Motorola
Model 61L1 a.c.-d.c.-battery. Colors: forest green, maroon (61L2). (24) Motorola
Model 51L1 a.c.-d.c.-battery. Colors: green, maroon (51L2).(25) Admiral Model 4T11
a.c.-d.c.-battery. 4 tubes plus rectifier. Color: ebony. Price $29.95. (26) Admiral
Model 4W18. a.c.-d.c.-battery. 4 tubes plus rectifier. Colors: hunter green, dawn
grey (4W19). Price $36.95.
(27) Sentinel Model 335-P. a.c.-d.c.-battery. 4 tubes plus rectifier.
Colors: white (PI), brown (PW), forest green (PG), red (PM). (28) Sentinel Model
312. a.c.-d.c.-battery. 4 tubes plus rectifier. Colors: green (PG), brown (PW).
(29) General Electric Model 606. a.c.-d.c.-battery. 4 tubes plus
rectifier. Colors: cactus green, burgundy red (605). Price $36.95. (30) General
Electric Model 611 a.c.-d.c.-battery. 5 tubes plus rectifier. Colors: cactus green,
burgundy red (610). Price $46.50. (31) Tele-tone Model 228. a.c.-d.c.-battery. 4
tubes plus rectifier. Colors: maroon, green, (32) Trav-Ler Model 5022. a.c.-d.c.-battery.
4 tubes plus rectifier. Color: red and ivory.
(33) Jewel Model 5050. a.c.-d.c.-battery. 4 tubes plus rectifier.
Color: ivory and maroon. (34) Mitchell Model 1256. a.c.-d.c.-battery. 4 tubes plus
rectifier. Color: maroon. Price $39.95. (35) Fada Model P111. a.c.-d.c.-battery.
4 tubes plus rectifier. Colors: ebony (E), maroon (M), ivory (V). (36) Fada Model
P-130. a.c.-d.c.-battery. 3-bands. 4 tubes plus 2 rectifiers. Color: two-tone simulated
One of the most effective methods of attracting portable business is to offer
a flat-rate service charge, listing all of the features of such a check-up. Such
services could include thorough tube, battery, and wiring inspection, a complete
operational test, and cleaning. Some service dealers make arrangements with their
neighborhood shoe repair men to replace the worn leather handles on portables.
Don't forget that the more attractive and comprehensive you make this list, the
greater your chances for attracting volume business.
Ways of presenting this message to prospects are only limited by the ingenuity
of the technician. A postcard mailing to all past portable customers is good for
the medium sized, self-servicing dealer, especially if a double postcard is used
so that all the customer needs to do is check a square and sign his name.
Advertisements in the vacation and travel section of newspapers can be effective
if imaginative themes are used in setting up the ad. These same ads can stimulate
portable sales as well as offer your servicing. Consider such ideas as bold headlines
featuring the name of some radio favorite on the air during the summer, for example:
Take Bing Crosby on Your Vacation
You'll have him and all your other radio favorites as companions when you take
along a portable set - kept in perfect condition by
Your Name and Address
P.S. If you haven't selected your portable radio as yet, you can get one here
for as little as $00.00.
A large sign in your shop window advising prospective customers that you are
equipped to handle portable sales and service is an inexpensive way of stimulating
business and has the additional advantage of cutting down on pick-up and delivery
expense. Handbills and postcard mailings to names in the telephone directory are
also good catch-alls, although admittedly less effective than pin-point selling.
Look over the advertisements being run by the manufacturers on their new portables.
You can adapt many of their proven ideas to the selling of service.
One critical consideration in portable servicing is your tube supply. Before
setting up any large scale campaign, check it carefully and secure tube substitution
charts from the manufacturers covering tubes in short supply. Lack of these replacements
may prove to be your principal handicap and the more fully you anticipate these
difficulties, the less likely is it to impede a successful campaign.
In reviewing portable servicing possibilities, remember to remind your vacationing
customers to take along an extra set of batteries. Failure to do so may cost you
a good customer in case his receiver gives up the ghost in some remote spot. When
the customer is having his portable reconditioned is the perfect time to make this
Since many portables are listed at less than $50, the restrictions of Regulation
"W" covering rentals and sales do not apply. This means that there is nothing to
keep you from renting portables if you wish and then later converting them to sales
by permitting the prospect to apply the rental fee as a down payment or full purchase
price on the set.
Most vacation spots, public swimming pools, parks, and hotels offer some rental
possibilities to the enterprising service dealer. Before jumping into this type
of business, however, work out a binding arrangement so that you don't lose the
benefit of your risk to the concessionaires at these locations. Criteria for selecting
a profitable location for rentals include:
1. There must be sufficient prospect for demand to justify tying up the merchandise
for the season.
2. There must be some way to prevent theft of the portables or loss through irresponsible
treatment of the set by the renter. In hotels, arrangements may be made to have
the portable returned and checked at the time the guest checks out. Similarly, you
are reasonably safe at watering places where the renter has a locker or at country
clubs where he is a member. For rentals in public places, it is best to demand full
identification and/or substantial security.
3. There must be sufficient free time for the renter to make use of the portable.
In some areas, such as camps and hotels with pre-planned activities, adequate leisure
is too much of a rarity to make portable renting profitable.
4. There should be a large enough number of sets in use to make the project worthwhile
from the collection, bookkeeping, and maintenance standpoint, to cover the inevitable
losses on some rentals and to pay a reasonable percentage of the receipts (seldom
less than 25 per-cent and often as high as 50 per-cent) to the attendant to whom
the rental receivers have been entrusted.
Don't overlook the possibilities of handling rentals from your place of business
as it brings likely prospects into your store.
When you go into the rental business prepare for night work and early morning
deliveries unless you have a good stock of replacement sets on hand. These must
be kept in good condition otherwise you will discourage the agencies which handle
the renting of your portables and the whole business will go to pot in a hurry.
Frequently the outlying retailer or the small service shop can bring in extra
revenue by placing a few portables on consignment in outlets which would not normally
have sufficient demand for this type of merchandise to warrant their carrying a
full line of receivers.
Typical of these outlets are luggage shops, travel agencies, hotel lobby gift
stands, concessions in railroad stations, and gasoline stations.
Warning: The vendor will expect a good part of the profits on consignment merchandise,
so use this selling method only when you have a generous supply of portables and
personals on hand.
While the appeal of this activity fluctuates with the success of our armies in
the Far East, it does present an exceptional opportunity for portable sales when
and where there is the greatest interest in civilian defense.
Most official publications recommend that the civilian defense worker have a
portable, battery-operated radio receiver in case of power failure. The widespread
use of such receivers gives the civilian defense activity its most efficient means
of mass communication.
Check with your local defense program. Find out who is in command and what local
interest has been aroused. Post a special offer for civilian defense workers, offering
a free receiver to the defense unit that purchases a certain number of receivers.
It could provide a lively and profit-able source of business.
Ever since they first became a significant factor in the radio business portable
receivers have constituted a good source of revenue. In the past four years these
little receivers have been responsible for more than a quarter-billion dollar's
worth of retail volume! Hardly a sum to be ignored.
There are various ways of stimulating portable business. In one major city during
the World Series, Western Union messengers were equipped with portable receivers,
playing at a healthy volume and carrying a punchy advertising message of course,
and turned loose on the city streets, walking slowly where the sidewalk traffic
was the heaviest. These "live" advertising messages attracted surprisingly large
crowds and one messenger was seen walking down the street followed by some 40 people
during one particularly exciting inning!
When a department store conducted a sales drive on portables two years ago, they
featured this merchandise in their luggage departments and the sales went up a surprising
13 per-cent over the previous year's record sale volume.
One New York radio retailer set up an entire window display of portables Each
receiver carried a price tag and were arranged in an ascending price scale. Despite
the fact that there was no promotional material in the window other than the sets
themselves, in three days he had sold 57 units at an average of $47.50.
In 1951, designers and manufacturers have surpassed their efforts of previous
years in developing portable merchandise that is lightweight, strikingly attractive,
and reasonably priced.
The opportunity was never greater nor the incentive stronger than now to go to
work repairing and selling these units.
Posted November 30, 2022
(updated from original
post on 5/31/2016)