Happy Birthday Planète Haute-Fidélité!
The Planète Haute-Fidélité store located in Repentigny, east of Montreal, celebrated its fourth year of existence last November 21st and I had the pleasure and the privilege to meet its founder Christian Vézina in order to talk about his journey since the opening of the boutique and also to get to know more about this passionate man that I met for the first time, last winter.
It is said that few companies succeed in passing the test of the first five years of existence and I am convinced that the Planète Haute-Fidélité store will be with us for many more years.
TED: Bonjour Christian,
Christian: Bonjour Yves.
TED: First of all, let me wish you a happy birthday! Congratulations! Four years already! It seems to me that the store just opened recently! I can’t wait to learn more about you and your journey that has allowed us to enjoy a beautiful boutique not far from Montreal.
To start, can you tell me a little about your origins, where are you from?
Christian: I was born in Saint-Sulpice, a small municipality of 3,500 souls along the St. Lawrence River, 11 km east of the store and I still live there today.
TED: What was your first contact with high fidelity or simply the discovery of a stereo system?
Christian: I was about 12 years old; a friend’s parents had a Pioneer quadraphonic system with four columns and 10″ woofers. I don’t have all the details on the components, but I remember being impressed with it. Later, when I was about 16, I bought my first kit: a system with Cerwin Vega, Akai electronics and a Technics table. I couldn’t afford it, but I financed part of it and went home in a cab with my new toys, at the store’s expense! I still remember my parents’ faces when they saw me arrive with my boxes!
TED: You are a musician, how did you discover music? Tell me how this passion was born?
Christian: I started playing guitar as a teenager, but my talent was not up to my ambitions. It’s much later, around the age of 35 that I discovered my passion for the harmonica. It’s crazy how it can sound like! My first gig was in a music festival in Berthier, opening for the Cowboys Fringants. Afterwards, I was invited to play at the St-Jean festivities in Repentigny. I had to learn some tunes from the Colocs among others. It was quite a buzz to start the intro (i.e., the famous Tasssez-vous de d’là from Les Colocs) with 50,000 people in front of me! Even though I was 35 years old at the time, I was a beginner, and I enjoyed every moment. I was lucky enough to play with some great musicians in some great bands and it took me all the way to the Montreal Jazz Festival and later on, I did a little tour in France.
TED: How did you get into the hi-fi business?
Christian: I started as a salesman at Radio St-Hubert and one thing led to another and I got involved in purchasing. I was also responsible for setting up the Montreal audio shows. I worked there for 24 years. I decided to resign in January 2017, because the passion was no longer there. It was finally at Kébecson that I decided to continue my career. It was a challenge to work with a new team in a different market than I was used to. My specialty is audio while the store was more focused towards home automation. I decided to leave after honouring my one-year contract, proud of the new encounter, but it wasn’t in tune with what I wanted to do.
TED: When did you make the decision to open your own store? What were the first steps?
Christian: I had wanted to go out on my own for a long time. I had plans to buy an existing store, but I finally decided to open a brand new store in Repentigny, not too far from home. Everyone around me thought I was crazy except my brother who pushed me to go ahead. I contacted a few distributors to discuss my project and they thought it was a great idea. I chose the name Planète Haute-Fidélité during the summer, because the planets were finally aligned, and I wanted to have a name in French. I did the store layout for six full weeks. I had the help of two good friends for the wiring, the website and, of course, my wife who was essential to the success of this project in general and still today for the accounting and inventory management.
TED: Few entrepreneurs could have foreseen the crisis we have experienced since March 2020. How did you manage to get through it?
Christian: Oddly enough, it went well for us. It was hard when all the businesses had to close, but I stayed at the store 6 days a week and was active on social networks. As soon as we were able to reopen our doors, the customers came in droves.
TED: What do you think made the difference?
Christian: The quality of service is key. Also, the fact that I am a passionate person with over 30 years of experience.
TED: You are considered as a newcomer in the small world of audiophile stores, what makes you stand out from the others?
Christian: Again, the quality of service and the atmosphere of the store. People tell me that they feel good in our shop and that goes for me as well.
TED: Do you have any plans for growth, opening a store in another city in Quebec for example?
Christian: I’ve already had requests for partnerships to open in other cities, but I realized that customer satisfaction is due in large part to my involvement in all stages of management and sales. I would not be happy if a client was not 100 % satisfied. I prefer to stay in control and have a one-stop store.
TED: What makes Christian get up every morning to go to his store? What motivates you to do this?
Christian: Being around my customers and meeting new people. Discovering new music. I love the people and my customers often become friends. I’ve managed to create an atmosphere that makes everyone feel good here.
TED: Tell me about your musical tastes? Any interesting discoveries lately?
Christian: All styles of music appeal to me if there is emotion involved. I’m more and more into jazz, but less into big bands. I like folk and blues a lot, and rock has been with me for a long time. I am discovering classical music in small doses. My recent discoveries are Mary Gauthier (folk blues), Ida Sand (jazz), Jamie Saft (jazz), Elisapie (folk), Nathalie Merchant (rock) and pop artist Billie Eilish. I can’t wait to discover a good Quebec rock band like Offenbach or Pag (i.e. Michel Pagliaro). Unfortunately, we’re not there yet!
TED: On the product side, what are your most recent discoveries? Any favourites here?
Christian: The Shinai amplifier from Grandinote is the best amp I’ve heard so far. Luna cables and Wattson Audio streamers, Monitor Audio‘s new Silver 7G series and soon the new Platinum generation from the same manufacturer.
TED: How do you see retirement?
Christian: I’m enjoying myself too much what I’m doing right now, and I don’t think about it too much. Maybe if I find the right person to take over!
TED: Thank you Christian for your generosity, I wish you many more birthdays.
Christian: Thank you, it was my pleasure!
After blowing out its fourth candle, the Planète Haute-Fidélité store continues to offer high quality audio and video products with a strong emphasis on customer service. We were able to learn a little more about its founder Christian Vézina and I invite you to go and meet him. A visit will convince you; you will have the chance to chat directly with the owner. You will not regret it, I am convinced.
Planète Haute Fidélité
543B, rue Notre-Dame, Repentigny, QC J6A 2T6
Tel.: (450) 841-1711,