Fry’s Electronics, one of the largest brick-and-mortar electronic stores across the United States — and one of the most renowned Silicon Valley institution in particular will be closing permanently across the country, the company has confirmed officially Wednesday following the Tuesday evening stories from SF Bay Area broadcaster KRON4 and Bill Reynolds and Matthew Keys.
“After more than 36 years of business as a one-stop shop and online source for professionals in high-tech across the United States and with the presence of 31 locations, Fry’s Electronics, Inc. (“Fry’s” (“Fry’s”) or “Company”) has taken the difficult decision to cease operations and shut down its business permanently due to shifts in the retail industry and the challenges presented by the Covid-19 virus,” is the statement issued by Fry’s.
Nothing will be a surprise if you’ve visited any Fry’s restaurant during the past two or three years.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the family-owned business was being forced to the brink of destruction by online stores like Amazon, Newegg and more. The company began an initiative to price match everything you can find on the internet. The campaign included a kids’ toy aisle, massive shelves of As Seen on TV gadgets, even perfume. However, things went from bad to worse. In 2019, what was to be a treasure trove of computers, devices, components and audio equipment, video games and appliances was now ghost warehouses packed by empty shelving.
It was discovered that the business was forced to change to a consignment business model which was only able to draw suppliers willing to pay for their products after Fry’s succeeded in selling the items. A lot of suppliers weren’t. An ex-employee tells the Verge that Samsung has stopped business because of unpaid bills and that Fry’s cut down on the majority of full-time positions prior to the outbreak to reduce costs. A store manager who has been with the company for a long time informs me that employees were paid in full (including the vacation payment) until February 24.
YouTuber celebrity Bitwit famously conducted an investigation which revealed the extent to which the once great stores had fallen to and how the company rerouted extra inventory into the Las Vegas store just in the event that journalists visited at CES 2020.
The company soon began closing its stores. And not just any store however, but the most important ones located that are located in Silicon Valley, like its store with a cowboy theme situated in Palo Alto mere steps away from the place where my dad worked at the Danger Hiptop (known better as the T-Mobile Sidekick) and other large tech companies still operate. The Palo Alto store closed in December of 2019. I often rode my bicycle towards the Egyptian themed pyramid-shaped shop in Campbell, which abruptly shut down in November.
Egyptians? Cowboys? Yes, entering an Fry’s Electronics was an experience that started with an “E” — back when I first moved in my new home in the Bay Area in 1990, one of the first stores was designed as the interior of a (now-vintage) computer. you’d wander through to the mainframe’s aisles, and bump into massive human-sized capacitors as well as resistors along the way. The Egyptian store featured faux columns, fake mummies, and sarcophagi. Laptops were arranged on enormous stone slabs , which were topped by black panthers’ statues. The Palo Alto store which closed? False horses, hot air balloons and fake horseshoes are suspended over the store’s top.
Here are some of the additional locations:
“Going to an Fry’s shop is a fun experience to itself. For someone who is a geek, it can be therapeutic,” wrote former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassee in a blog article. I completely agree with him. I’d often buy food, whether it was a package of astronaut ice cream at a discount as well as one of the choices available from their substantial candy aisles that connect to the check-out line. The store would even sell inexpensive Hot dogs as well as soda (think 50 cents to $1 for both) in the parking lot in summers while I was growing older. Its Black Friday doorbusters were a Silicon Valley event, too with crowds forming across the street for laptops priced at $200 and routers for $60..
It’s possible to test many prototype devices as well. I had my first VR headset at Fry’s long before Oculus became available. It was the first time I had a taste of Final Fantasy VIIon the demo PlayStation and a PlayStation 4.