Fry’s Electronics is closing its doors forever

Fry’s Electronics, one of the last major brick-and-mortar electronics store chains in the United States, and one Silicon Valley institution in particular, is permanently shutting down across the country, local broadcaster KRON4 confirmed, following a report. by Bill Reynolds Y another by Matthew Keys.

The company’s Facebook page also disappeared and its Twitter account was set private; it was public tonight, although it hadn’t been tweeted in quite a while.

If you’ve ever visited a Fry’s in the last two or three years, none of this will surprise you.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the family business had been pushed to the brink of extinction by online retailers like Amazon, Newegg, and more. Initially, the company started a campaign to match the price of any item it could find online. Added a children’s toy aisle, huge shelves of TV sets as you see, even perfume. But things got worse. By 2019, what used to be a haven of gadgets, computers, components, video games, audio equipment, and home appliances had turned into ghost warehouses. full of empty shelves.

It turned out that the company had been forced to switch to a consignment model, only capable of attracting suppliers willing to charge for their products. then Fry managed to sell them. Many providers were not.

YouTuber star Bitwit conducted a video investigation that showed the depths to which once-great stores had sunk, and how the company shipped additional inventory to its Las Vegas store in case reporters stopped during. CES 2020.

Soon, the company began closing its stores, and not just any store, but major ones in the heart of Silicon Valley, like its jeans-themed store in Palo Alto, just steps from where my father used to work at Danger Hiptop ( better known as T-Mobile Sidekick) and many big tech companies are still doing business. That Palo Alto store closed in December 2019. I used to bike to the company’s Egyptian-themed pyramid store in Campbell, which closed abruptly last November.

Egyptians? Cowboys? Yes, setting foot in Fry’s Electronics was an experience with an “E” capitol: When I moved to the Bay Area in 1990, one of the first stores was designed like the inside of a (now old) computer – you would Walk by the hallways of the motherboard, colliding with giant human-sized capacitors and resistors as it went. The Egyptian tent had false columns, mummies, and sarcopaghi; the laptops were perched on huge stone slabs supported by statues of black panthers. That Palo Alto store that closed? Fake horses and hot air balloons hanging from the ceiling. Here are some of the other locations:

“Going to the Fry’s store is entertainment in itself; for a geek, it could be recuperative, “wrote former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée in a 2019 blog post. I totally agree: I even occasionally have some food, be it a discounted pack of astronaut ice cream or one of many, many selections from their tremendous candy racks attached to the candy line. They even made hot dogs and sodas some summers when I was little. The company’s Black Friday Doorbusters were also a Silicon Valley event, with lines around the block for laptops. a $ 60 router.

However, there was the little matter of Fry’s famous poor customer service. Rare was the day when I encountered an employee who knew something about their products, the pay lines were long, returns were incredibly slow, and the company was known for accepting product returns, putting discount labels, and sticking them on immediately. On the shelf. They would also try to verify each item with your receipt when you left, something that (unlike Costco, where you sign a member’s agreement) you didn’t have to let them do.

(I don’t know where to put it, but there was also a funny incident where a Ferrari vice president of driving was found to have embezzled $ 65 million.)

The writing has been on the wall for Fry’s since last April, I would say, when reports surfaced that their San Jose store could be replaced by an office campus, reports that they often forgot to mention that Fry’s corporate headquarters it also occupied the same address.

For many readers, I bet this news is more of a nostalgia trigger than an actual loss. But to me, it feels like we’re at the end of the gadget store era, now that the one I grew up with is gone. Over the years, we’ve lost Radio Shack, Toys R Us, The Sharper Image and Brookstone, Bose stores, and Microsoft stores. In Silicon Valley, many smaller chains like CompUSA and Micro Center, and stores like Halted (known for real circuits, not computers) and WeirdStuff Warehouse (a wild experience in itself!) Have also closed their physical doors long ago. Some of the bigger ones have become zombie brands, but they are effectively gone. (Micro Center still has stores outside of the Bay Area.)

I’m trying to think of the remaining Silicon Valley electronics stores except Central Computer and of course Apple and Best Buy. If you think of any, let me know in the comments below. I would like to visit it while it is still an option.

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