Fry’s Electronics expected to shut entire retail chain

Fry’s Electronics is expected to close its entire chain of electronics superstores nationwide at midnight tonight. Reports surfaced today from from Bill Reynolds and Matthew Keys, and the rumors have been confirmed by broadcaster KRON4.

The company has been shutting stores since January 2020, even before the pandemic struck. It also closed stores in Campbell and Anaheim in California, and in social media last year there were lots of reports about how most of Fry’s stores were running out of inventory and weren’t being restocked. I’ve asked Fry’s for comment today but my spokesman’s email bounced back.

This is another sign of the retail apocalypse, where stores have been squeezed by the growth of Amazon and the pandemic. Last year, Fry’s said it was transitioning its stores to a consignment model.

Under the consignment model, vendors take the risk of shipping goods to Fry’s. If it sells, the vendor gets paid. But in this model, Fry’s does not buy the goods from the vendor. Under consignment, Fry’s has no responsibility to maintain the merchandise in a sellable condition or even keep track of it at all. And it appears that lots of vendors did not take this risk.

Fry’s started out as a supermarket chain in California. The Fry family started its first electronics store in 1985 in Sunnyvale, California. The chain grew to dozens of big-box electronics retail stores over the ensuing decades. Each store had a unique theme, and they were huge. You could buy everything from potato chips to computer chips at Fry’s Electronics. Around 2014, Fry’s had 34 stores nationwide.

The Fry’s stores are huge warehouses that often occupy some prime real estate. I’m curious what is going to replace those stores as they leave gaping holes in retail centers and malls around the country. I haven’t been in a Fry’s in a long time, but like a lot of gamers, I have some fond memories of browsing through the aisles and I will miss it.

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