Author Topic: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?  (Read 3234 times)

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Offline Sal Ammoniac

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Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« on: September 21, 2019, 07:21:43 am »
We have half a dozen Fry's in the SF Bay Area and all of them have been like ghost towns recently with nearly bare shelves and very few employees to be seen in the vast expanses these stores occupy. Are they going out of business? It sure seems like they're circling the drain.

Anyone have any definitive info on why the shelves are bare? They've been an icon here in Silicon Valley for 35 years, but given the current state of the stores, I don't give them long. Looks like they'll soon be joining Circuit City, CompUSA, and Radio Shack in oblivion.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2019, 07:29:31 am »
I was surprised at the variety of electronics stuff they had at the time, but that was a long time ago. Yeah the stores are huge, must be worth fortune to rent, or maybe they own them?
 

Offline windsmurf

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Offline Gyro

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2019, 11:15:52 am »
The last time I visited their Sunnyvale store, admittedly a few years ago, it seemed to be a woeful collection of fairly mediocre stuff but the locals seemed to rave about it. The one thing it had was floorspace. Their small electronics components / test gear section made even our local Maplin store look good (maybe a little harsh).
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Offline Bill158

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2019, 07:38:48 pm »
All I can relate to is what has happened to me and friends at Fry's in the past.  I would buy computer hardware at the local store in Sunnyvale at the time, but not at the present location.  I needed a 5.25" diskette drive (yes this is how far back I go with Fry's).  So I drove around 15 miles from South San Jose to the store, got a drive and came home.  I couldn't get it to work no matter what I did with the jumpers.  The drive didn't look new at the time but was "shrink wrapped" but not in a box.  So I drove back to Sunnyvale, went to returns and got a voucher so that I could get another drive.  No problems at the returns.  So I pick out another drive from the stack they had on the shelf and went to checkout.  While standing in line I was looking that the "new" one that I had selected.  On the side of the drive someone had written "BAD" in felt tip.  But still it was shrink wrapped?  So I asked to see the store manager who told me to get yet another drive.  At least this one did work when I got home.
My guess is that the returns "checkout" tech gave my original one (which was probably bad to start) a quick check and declared it "good" and shrink wrapped it even though someone else had returned it before I got it because it didn't work.
A friend who I worked with wanted a TI laptop.  He went to Fry's and bought one in the original packaging.  He got it home and began to use it when it suddenly crashed and then rebooted.  He went through several iterations of this and then called TI support to get it fixed.  When he gave TI support the serial number the tech asked for his name.  But this TI laptop had already been registered to someone else before him.  So again Fry's had gotten back a bad unit, did a fast checkout and then shrink wrapped it and sold it again to my friend as brand new.  I had a few other incidents with Fry's and equipment before I realize that they were, shall we say, less than honest.  I bought an inverter (12V to 110V) got it home and hooked up the 12V battery, turned it on and it immediately started to spark and smoke.  I went back to exchange it and inspected a few others that were on the shelf.  One had a rattle inside when shaken so I didn't take that one.  But again all in the original packages and shrink wrapped.
Bottom line here is that Fry's was investigated by the Santa Clara County District Attorney for reselling returned equipment as new and using the shrink wrap to fool customers into believing that they were getting a brand new unit!  This was more than a few years ago but I simply quit buying ANYTHING from them because I couldn't trust what I was getting.  I wouldn't even buy magazines for fear that they were defective somehow.
Bottom line Fry's may well be going out of business because they have lost ALL customer confidence and trust and no one will buy from them.  I am surprised that it took this long for people to realize how bad they really are!
Just one man's experiences,
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Offline djacobow

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2019, 08:40:22 pm »
Fry's was always a strange beast. At it's heyday, it had a great selection of computer parts, an OK selection of electronic parts, and a non-zero selection of test equipment -- but this was more than anywhere else, I guess. Customer service was always lousy, and the store was pretty famous for putting returns back on the shelf. This was not entirely irrational because it was not uncommon for people with short-term needs to make use of the "Fry's rental plan" by which they bought something like an oscilloscope, used it for a week, and returned it. For a long time Fry's had porn out in the checkout line. You could pick up some Jolt Cola and a Hustler on your way out after getting some DRAM sticks.

It was great to have around when you needed a specific thingamajig to connect the whatsit to the doohickey, especially before the Internets, but overall, I didn't do much shopping there except in "emergencies."

One thing they did do nicely was have an efficient checkout system: one line and multiple tellers, with a dispatcher at the front of the line to send customers to the next open cashier. That was great. Of course, they were one of the first stores to have a security guard at the door to look at your receipt. Always hated that.

A fun thing about Fry's is that the stores were themed. I think the one in Palo Alto has gigantic components on the wall, so it's like you're inside a computer. The one in Campbell is Egyptian themed because why not. They also have random "exhibits" of old SV stuff, including an Apple I under glass and some interesting power tubes for radar applications.

I haven't been in a Fry's in years. I won't miss it, but I do have some nostalgia for when it was new (to me). It sort of went with a different Silicon Valley than we have today; scrappier, grimier, nerdier.

I don't live in SV anymore. Is Central Computer still going strong? That was a great place to build a system. Their prices weren't great, but they people there knew what they were doing. You could walk out of there with the parts to build a fully customized system, which was a lot of fun back when building computers was fun.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2019, 09:36:36 pm »
Fry's used to be a pretty amazing place, but it's been years since I've bothered to make the 30 minute drive to the one nearest to me. Unless I need something right away it's simply less hassle to order it online and the shipping cost is about what I'd spend on gas to drive there anyway. It's unfortunate but that's just the way the world is these days.
 

Offline gerts

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2019, 10:06:07 pm »
I noticed a while back that Fry's wasn't restocking shelves at the bay area stores.  I asked the the employee that manages the electronics section what the scoop was with all the empty shelves.  He stated that Fry's business is not doing well (he mentioned the Amazon effect) and they focus on manly big ticket items now.  I suspect, in time, Fry's will go the way of the Sunnyvale's Computer Literacy bookstore (I think that was the name) and close shop.
 

Online Homer J Simpson

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2019, 11:13:51 pm »


You can skip to ~46:00 where Shango visits a Fry's

 
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Offline xrunner

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2019, 11:30:52 pm »
You can skip to ~46:00 where Shango visits a Fry's

Wow. No customers and empty shelves. A goner for sure.  :palm:
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Offline bob91343

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2019, 12:02:49 am »
I was at Fry's in Woodland Hills last month to buy a microwave oven.  The didn't have stock in the size I wanted so the clerk did a check of other stores.  He said no, it would have to be back ordered and would take a while.

Needless to say, I bought the oven I wanted elsewhere.

But yes the store was nearly empty of customers and merchandise.  I don't think it's greed so much as disinterest.  Whoever manages it, doesn't.
 

Offline maginnovision

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2019, 12:54:19 am »
The frys in that video is near torrance and I went to that store somewhat often a couple years ago and he's right, it was usually packed(and it's a SMALL lot for a frys, and a small frys) although I have no idea when he was there. Woodland hills has usually been about 1/4-1/2 full parking lot. It actually only started going downhill there recently with a bit of the store empty, big sales it still gets pretty busy.

The frys in Anaheim is still usually pretty decent but I haven't been there in a couple months. I really think the thing that kills it, especially now, is the easy returns. At this point you can go and borrow something then if you decide you like it you return it and find the cheapest one online. Their local delivery isn't quick, the good sales aren't often... I've still used it when I needed random things right now but I guess that might not last either.
 

Offline edavid

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2019, 02:39:08 am »
Fry’s tries to quell rumors of its demise as customers worry about empty shelves
https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/09/10/frys-tries-to-quell-rumors-of-its-demise-as-customers-worry-about-empty-shelves/

 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2019, 03:57:46 am »
They can blame Amazon, but it has been a long downhill slide starting long before Amazon made any real difference.  In my mind they reached their apex sometime in the mid 80s and it has been downhill since.  It was once shear magic to go into one of their stores and see anything you could imagine stuffing in or around a desktop computer at prices at or below anyplace else I could find.  All the other stuff was nice too.  The parts. The test gear and so on, which was as said before, not fantastic, but better than anywhere else.  As the desktop world began to lose its magic and relatively non customizable laptops began to take over they lost some of their edge, and it just kept going.  I have dropped in a few times in the last decade when I am in a city with a store and have only found one thing worth buying in any of those visits.

They are like the DEC of retail electronics.  They found a niche, exploited it and then didn't notice when the niche started going away.  It will be sad to see them gone, but that is what happens when you don't change with the market.
 
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Offline schmitt trigger

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2019, 04:50:12 pm »
The NTE components in Shango’s video surely brought back memories.
Those and Sylvania’s ECGs, were a given on any TV repair shop.
 

Offline Sal Ammoniac

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2019, 10:18:25 pm »
A fun thing about Fry's is that the stores were themed. I think the one in Palo Alto has gigantic components on the wall, so it's like you're inside a computer. The one in Campbell is Egyptian themed because why not. They also have random "exhibits" of old SV stuff, including an Apple I under glass and some interesting power tubes for radar applications.

The Palo Alto store theme is the Old West. You're thinking of the second Sunnyvale store (there have been three)--that's the one with the gigantic components on the wall.

Quote
I don't live in SV anymore. Is Central Computer still going strong?

Yes, it is. They've opened new stores in San Mateo and Pleasanton. The Pleasanton store was very convenient for me, but, unfortunately, they closed it about a year ago. The Sunnyvale store burned down in April and they're about to open a replacement store at a different location in Sunnyvale.
 

Offline Sal Ammoniac

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2019, 10:37:47 pm »
They can blame Amazon, but it has been a long downhill slide starting long before Amazon made any real difference.  In my mind they reached their apex sometime in the mid 80s and it has been downhill since.  It was once shear magic to go into one of their stores and see anything you could imagine stuffing in or around a desktop computer at prices at or below anyplace else I could find.

Fry's was amazing when it first opened. I went to the grand opening of the Sunnyvale store (Fry's store #1) back in 1985 and it was like nothing else around. You could pick up all sorts of computer components, from disk drives, memory, and even the little parts needed to put everything together. They literally had it all. You could also pick up a case of Jolt Cola or potato chips while you were at it because they had a big selection of nerd junk food in the middle of the big aisles.

Customer service has never been good at Fry's, even in the old days. It has always mostly been immigrants with poor English skills and even poorer technical skills. Fry's was great if you knew exactly what you wanted, but not so great if you didn't. I've overheard lots of completely nonsense advice given to customers by some of these clueless idiots over the years. I've often stepped in and told the customer the real facts, sometimes to the disgust of the salesdroid.

What people have said about Fry's selling returns is very true. Their shrinkwrap machine in the backroom got a constant workout as they repackaged returns and put them back on the shelf as new. I remember picking up a Jaz disk cartridge (anyone remember those?) from the shelf and noticed it had a stick-on label with "'97 Financials" written in ink that someone obviously tried to erase. I was tempted to buy it just to see if I could read the data. At some point in the past, Fry's did start to put a sticker on returned merchandise saying that it was a return and offering a slightly (very slightly) lower price. In some stores, re-shelved returned items outnumbered new items.

Even before the shelves started getting bare, it was obvious that Fry's management was milking the cash cow and not bothering to update or maintain the stores. Most stores had worn out carpeting, scuffed up floors, and junk in shopping carts in the middle of the aisles. Demo hardware (like keyboards and cameras) were often in desperate shape, with missing keys and controls and smashed plastic parts.

Fry's started out as Disneyland for nerds and evolved into a low-rent mecca for Joe Sixpack looking for the cheapest Chinese TV he could find.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2019, 05:46:06 pm by Sal Ammoniac »
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2019, 06:05:47 am »
A fun thing about Fry's is that the stores were themed. I think the one in Palo Alto has gigantic components on the wall, so it's like you're inside a computer. The one in Campbell is Egyptian themed because why not. They also have random "exhibits" of old SV stuff, including an Apple I under glass and some interesting power tubes for radar applications.

The Palo Alto store theme is the Old West. You're thinking of the second Sunnyvale store (there have been three)--that's the one with the gigantic components on the wall.

I've been to the Myan themed San Jose store, I thought it was fantastic.
 

Offline maginnovision

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2019, 06:33:48 am »
A fun thing about Fry's is that the stores were themed. I think the one in Palo Alto has gigantic components on the wall, so it's like you're inside a computer. The one in Campbell is Egyptian themed because why not. They also have random "exhibits" of old SV stuff, including an Apple I under glass and some interesting power tubes for radar applications.

The Palo Alto store theme is the Old West. You're thinking of the second Sunnyvale store (there have been three)--that's the one with the gigantic components on the wall.

I've been to the Myan themed San Jose store, I thought it was fantastic.

Anaheim is space themed. They have a replica shuttle control at the front. Makes sense since they're also right by rockwell/boeing and some other space companies. I was at Rockwell once and got to use their VERY expensive jet simulator. The shuttle sim wasn't powered up at the time but I still got to go through their lander and shuttle models(life size).
 

Offline Sal Ammoniac

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2019, 04:28:23 pm »
The Fremont store has a gigantic Tesla coil that's very impressive in operation. They used to run it for a few minutes hourly, but I haven't seen it run in years. Like a lot of things at Fry's stores, they probably didn't maintain it properly and it fell into disrepair.
 

Offline rsjsouza

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2019, 04:46:06 pm »
The two stores I visit in Dallas area still have plenty of traffic, especially on the weekends. I usually take my girls there to look at toys, I look at the electronics and I usually see families browsing around their wide selection of white goods as well.

Obviously that traffic does not necessarily means sales in this internet era, but I hope they stay afloat.
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Offline Bassman59

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #21 on: September 23, 2019, 04:49:05 pm »
Funny, I flew into the Phoenix, Arizona airport yesterday afternoon and got in early enough so that I could have stopped at the Fry's in Tempe before heading home (further south). I didn't really need anything so I skipped it. I wonder if that store is affected?

The Tempe store used to be an Incredible Universe, which was a Tandy (Radio Shack) big-box retail store that went under because the costs of maintaining the giant stores were not tenable.
 

Offline Sal Ammoniac

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2019, 05:48:50 pm »
Funny, I flew into the Phoenix, Arizona airport yesterday afternoon and got in early enough so that I could have stopped at the Fry's in Tempe before heading home (further south). I didn't really need anything so I skipped it. I wonder if that store is affected?

From what I've heard, all of their stores are affected.
 

Offline RandallMcRee

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2019, 07:19:48 pm »
Just as a point of trivia--the egyptian theme of the san jose/campbell Fry's is probably due to its location near the Rosicrucian museum.

https://egyptianmuseum.org/

The Rosicrucians are....interesting.
 

Offline raptor1956

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Re: Fry's Electronics Going Out of Business?
« Reply #24 on: September 24, 2019, 06:14:27 am »
I did a short stint between real jobs at Fry's in Vegas, this was late 2005 into early 2006, they operated much like Wal*Mart in the way they treated the associates and what they expected of them.  Pay was dreadful but I guess that's the case with pretty much all retail and more so with Amazon nipping at there heals.

Not surprised they are finally going under and I can only wonder what held them up these last few years.  With them and Radio Shack gone the only place for electronics is the internet or the major electrical suppliers like Digikey but you pretty much order on the internet anyway so...


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