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A Christmas Story: Big Kids Toys AV

Lessons in power, synergy, and love

By Eric Franklin Shook

Greensboro, North Carolina hasn’t seized the love it deserves for many years. It’s our third largest economy in the state, and more importantly it’s a city that always challenges the status quo. Once the emergency state capital during our civil war, it would later become a launching pad for the civil rights movement (see The Woolworth’s Sit-In). That message of inclusiveness has defined the city now for going on six decades. You can see it in the faces of the people at the local mall, or in line outside of a food truck. It’s a community that’s found ways to reconcile its differences, and always be moving forward. A city we all could take a beat from. You should love Greensboro.

I spoke with Mike Twomey of Big Kids Toys in Greensboro last month about attending one of his customer classes; which include everything from system building, going digital, going vinyl, and visits from special guest speakers. I’m sorry to admit that I’ve not attended one yet, but in our conversations he reminded me that his annual Christmas party was coming up, and it would be a good time to see the place, meet some customers, and hear guest Parke Puterbaugh (formerly a senior editor for Rolling Stone and now author) give us a breakdown of secular Christmas tunes that were more popular than you remember. I want to take a pause here to note that during Parke’s presentation and playing of seemingly thousands of Christmas songs, not for a moment was the oration of backstory and insider history boring, or without humor. Anyone can entertain an assembly with Beatles recordings and tales of how they were made, but to do so successfully with Christmas music — it takes a talent. Cheers to you Parke.

The holidays are about many things; family, friends, food, and TOYS. Yes, there is Linus’ great soliloquy about the true meaning of Christmas, and I know it word for word as I had that role in our third grade school production of A Charlie Brown Christmas.

The toys that really caught my attention were the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series 2 connected to Plinius electronics and Magico speakers. Listening to familiar tracks I could almost reach out and touch the boundaries and spaces where the musical details were coming from. Almost a surreal experience.

Enough about the toys though, this was a party (cue The In Crowd by Ramsey Lewis). Mike has done something very special with Big Kids Toys AV, they say “You are the company you keep”, and proof of that was in the crowd. More good souls (and PhDs) at this party than you could shake a stick at. Egoless thinkers abound. Conversations about life, love, and philosophy filled each room. Truly the sign of an accomplished host. You couldn’t hand pick a better crowd of people.