Charles Dricos is shifting his business from retail to service only. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Charles Dricos is shifting his business from retail to service only. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Dricos Entertainment pulls out of retail, adapts to ‘changing time’

Charles Dricos will continue providing service from home

Charles Dricos saw the writing on the wall for Dricos Entertainment.

The longtime business owner has closed up his retail shop in downtown 100 Mile House with an aim to focus on a service-only installations model, run out of his home.

The move comes amid rising rents, technological advances, YouTube do-it-yourself videos and more big companies like Telus signing up users across the South Cariboo.

“It’s just a changing time and that’s the way the world’s gone,” Dricos said. “Independent businesses, there’s not much room for retail wise. Service-wise there are always going to be people who need that. You have to adapt to the times so I adapted more to service and not retail.”

Dricos, who took over the business from his parents about 20 years ago, said he made the decision to switch to service-only installation earlier this year after his building’s landlord announced a triple net lease and a higher rent for the shop on Birch Avenue. Although he sublets his space, he said he didn’t want to be locked into such a lease that would require a fixed term as well as added costs such as paying property taxes on the building.

READ MORE: South Cariboo Business Services Directory released

Suffering from a broken ankle since 2018, Dricos said he also wanted to get that fixed, so working from his home – and using a sub-contractor to go out on jobs – makes sense.

Adapting to the new changes is nothing new for the self-described “home theatre specialists” – the go-to place in the past for entertainment needs in the South Cariboo. Originally called Sonic Sounds and run by his parents Chris and Barb, Dricos said the company has transitioned a lot over the years, especially with the introduction of the Internet, cheaper online electronic orders and “plug-and-play” services.

Dricos, who grew up in 100 Mile House, recalls the days when computers first came out and it cost thousands of dollars for internet dial-up. He can even remember when party lines – where people share numbers with their neighbours – were the only way to make a call.

In the old days, he would also drive six hours one way to supply communications services – internet, voice, telephone over internet, and Xplornet – to people in off-grid locations such as along the Fraser River near the Big Bar Ferry, Clinton, Horsefly, Chilko Lake and Bella Coola. At one time, he had three crews doing internet and TV.

“Basically we were supplying internet to people who had no power off-grid, giving them communications if they needed it so they could get a helicopter in if someone broke a leg,” Dricos sai, adding he enjoyed the fieldwork. “You get to help a lot of people and enjoy that.

“I remember driving through a creek to serve a customer and almost sinking. Driving near Fraser River – that could be scary for a lot of people. It’s really cool what people can do now off-grid … technology has just moved so fast.”

But with companies like Telus now providing services all the way to Canim and Bridge lakes, “that’s a loss in my business in all of those areas,” he said. “The writing’s on the wall for me.

“Any new people moving to the area are going to call all the big companies,” he said. “The independent retailer where new people would come to a new town to get services is gone. They look on the internet and sign up there. It’s been like that for years.”

He doesn’t blame them, he said. But it means a change for Dricos, although he anticipates there will always be those customers who rely on him – whether it’s someone who needs help mounting a TV, or the “90-year-old ladies” who press the wrong button on the remote.

“Customer service-wise we’ve done that for years,” he said. “I might be paid in oranges but whatever, I help them out. I prefer that to sticking my head in paperwork. It’s a changing world. We have to adapt or move on.”

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