I read that article yesterday and it dawned on my that Gibson could probably get away with creating a great retail store experience, in the same way that Harley Davidson can. Obviously it would only work in very major cities and I doubt it would work in an Apple way like they hope (after all I suspect any major CEO in US would expect their product can be as successful as Apple regardless of the reality.
But when you step back and think about it Gibson IS a luxury brand, their target audience obviously has brand loyalty or brand aspirations and certainly will pay the premium a luxury brand would command (in the same way we'll pay premium for a plain Designer T-shirt made in the same sweatshops as the no-name labels).
Interestingly for me, Gibson feels more like a high end fashion brand (Gucci, Paul Smith, Armani) rather than Fender's Levi feel which would make them work in this environment.
Gibson certainly has the range of instruments and colours that they could nicely fill in a store with ranges of guitars and style, all neatly accessorised with Amplifiers, Apple Laptops, glorious cases. All showcased by talented sales staff and visiting musicians, on site tuition and master classes, etc. etc.
Wonderfully visible personal isolated testing booths, glass fronted fake studio Jam Rooms...
As long as it were guitar focussed (exclusively Gibson) and not broad music shop focussed then I think it could be awesome. I'd love to go into a store like that and find the exact type of Gibson I could play and enjoy, I know I want to but I haven't been able to find the LP that agrees with me, maybe it's actually a Flying V or an Explorer, or some sort of lovely acoustic...
One of my best ever purchasing experiences was when I made the purchase decision to buy a Taylor acoustic at one of the Taylor road shows. None of the other road shows, while interesting and a fun evening out, were anywhere near as engaging and actually dragged me towards making an actual purchase that I love, and I still hold out a dream to buying another Taylor that's at least $2K more than the one I have...
Again I think it's a wonderful idea, but I can only see it working initially in the biggest of cities to get started (New York, LA, Las Vegas, Chicago, Paris, London, etc.).
I also feel that while it's a worthy aspiration, because music retail could do with a decent wake up and an excuse to get the high value into the sale/experience, I think Gibson's corporate structure and financing woes will bring them to their knees well before they can raise the finance to do this - so I doubt they'll be doing this, and to be honest the tone of Henri's comments seems to indicate that he thinks it's someone else's job out there in general retail - just so long as the put the Gibson product at the top of the tree.