Jim Tweten, the former head of Pacific Northwest tech chain Magnolia Hi-Fi and onetime president of ProSource precursor PRO Group, died unexpectedly on Nov. 3. He was 69.
Tweten controversially sold his 18-store business to Best Buy in 2000, which gave the box chain access to premium consumer electronics that were off limits to mass merchant discounters.
Tweten assumed the company’s reins from his dad Len, who founded Magnolia Stationers and Camera in the Magnolia section of Seattle in 1954. The business transitioned into TVs and high-end audio in the mid-1960s, and by the time of its $87 million acquisition was operating 18 Magnolia Audio Video stores throughout the Northwest.
The buyout by Best Buy compromised Magnolia’s standing within PRO, a buying group for specialty A/V dealers, prompting Tweten’s resignation as group president and the rescinding of Magnolia’s membership. Best Buy would later use the dealer’s CE authorizations to backdoor restricted brands onto its sales floors via in-store Magnolia Home Theater shops.
PRO Group, short for Progressive Retailers Organization, merged in 2014 with AVB’s specialty CE division Home Entertainment Source (HES) to create the current AVB affiliate ProSource. PRO had been led by Dave Workman, who went on to head the new organization, while HES had been honchoed by Jim Ristow, who was later named CEO of AVB.
Tweten is survived by his father, daughter and granddaughter, according to an obituary in Palm Springs, Calif., newspaper The Desert Sun.
BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.