Another Visit to Aardvark Boutique Audio

Was a sunny day. Not a cloud was in the sky. (With thanks to Paul Simon.) A good day for a drive. But where? "Is there some audio store you haven't been to for some time that you'd like to visit?" (My wife is well-acquainted with my interests.)

But of course! Aardvark Boutique Audio, in Orangeville, Ontario. I was at the store's opening and the owner, Peter Wolter, had said, "Come and see us in six months and see how we're doing." That was last July, so the timing was pretty close to being right.

Orangeville, about an hour's drive from Toronto (where we live), is a charming little town, without the theatrical attractions of Niagara-On-the-Lake (Shaw Festival) or Stratford (Stratford Festival), but well worth a visit—especially if you're an audiophile.

And, from what I've seen, Aardvark Boutique Audio is doing just fine. With an approach they call Humble Hi-End, the emphasis is very much on affordable equipment. Peter Wolter (seen in the photo) has been very successful in creating a home-like atmosphere in the store. Wolter is a big fan of vinyl and tube equipment, and he particularly enjoys introducing young people to the pleasures of vinyl and tubes.

As well as selling new equipment, Aardvark Boutique Audio does a good business in repairs and turntable setups. A typical scenario involves a customer with a turntable that has a "broken needle," so it hasn't been used for years, and a visit to Aardvark, listening to records in the store, has convinced them to have their turntable fixed, which leads to installation of a new cartridge and setting the VTA, stylus pressure, and azimuth for best performance.

From the beginning, Peter Wolter has been intent on making connections with the community. The "Aardvark" name came courtesy of Perry Joseph, a friend and owner of Aardvark Music and Culture, a well-established Orangeville music store. There is also a connection with the Bartlett Gallery, an Orangeville art gallery. The arrangement is mutually beneficial: art from the Bartlett Gallery is on display in Aardvark Boutique Audio, and an audio system was set up at the Bartlett by Aardvark.

Aardvark Boutique Audio's latest community outreach is with a store that's a few doors down from Aardvark, called Broken Board Skate and Bike Shop—a connection that, as far as I know, is absolutely unique. Peter Wolter set up an audio system—assembled from used components except for a new turntable—in the Broken Boards store, and, when not checking out the latest bikes and skateboards, the customers are grooving on vinyl. Broken Board's customers are mostly in their teens and early twenties, so for them this provides an introduction to a technology that many of them did not know existed.

Broken Boards owner Brady Flood (on the left of the picture, with Peter Wolter on the right) is an enthusiastic supporter of Aardvark Boutique Audio. His store is a hangout for young people, and at least some of them are sure to catch the audiophile bug. All customers to the store are greeted by Daisy, the super-friendly pug seen in the photo. I tell you, if I lived in Orangeville, I'd spend a lot of time hanging out at Aardvark and Broken Boards.

smittyman's picture

I've read so many articles and editorials bemoaning the lack of interest in high end audio among young people and wondering what to do about it but offering very few suggestions. This is a simple, creative idea that costs the owners very little. More of this type of cross promotion could really work and is certainly more than most of the other high end retailers in this area have tried.

O-Ville is even closer for me; I must take a drive out there soon.

Allen Fant's picture

Nice coverage! RD.

ppgr's picture

What are the white speakers in the first picture?

Robert Deutsch's picture

They're called Finale Vivace Mini--see I understand that the line is being revised.

ppgr's picture

Thank you!

Phil Oude-Reimerink's picture

Thank you for your "surprise" visit and continued interest.

The "White Speakers" are the prototype Vivace Mini - the production units will be available April 1st, 2016 and will include footers - please come and visit us for an audition.

Aardvark Boutique Audio
74 Broadway
Orangeville, ON

Peter Wolter