The Slow Death of the Electronics Store

in technology •  2 months ago  (edited)

The Good Ol' Days

Many moons ago, there seemed to be an electronics store on every other street corner. They would sell anything from radios, to televisions to electronic components.

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I was fascinated with electronics when I was growing up in the 80s. Much to my parents' chagrin, I would take apart pretty much everything I owned; just to have a peek inside. Of course I would then put it back together with the hopes that I didn't lose any springs or important parts.

Have you ever been to a Radio Shack? These days they seem like just overpriced phone shops with self-branded HDMI cables and such. When I was a kid, they actually made their own computers branded after their parent company, Tandy Corporation. They also stocked aisle after aisle of resistors, diodes, capacitors and every gadget you could imagine for soldering / repairing electronic equipment.

Radio Shack wasn't even one of my favorites. In those days if you lived in a bigger city, you'd often find warehouse sized electronics stores. These places sold everything! Computer components, printed circuit boards, whatever you could possibly want. Well, those days are long gone now.

The one remaining electronics mega-store, Fry's Electronics seems to be the only remaining chain that is dangling by a tiny thread. Somehow they are managing to keep most of their stores open around the country with hardly any stock for months at a time!

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In the above image, you can see where the video cards should be. I've been going in the store from time to time over the past year, and they never have more than a couple video cards. The last few times I've gone in, it just looks like this; no cards at all.

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As you walk down the aisles, you will see that they've taken all of their stock and spread it out over the length of the aisle, 1 or 2 items deep. This is really depressing for someone like me who really enjoys browsing through technology.

Amazon shopping just doesn't have the same feel. I am wondering if retail outlets are just a thing of the past, and will eventually cease to exist altogether.

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These shelves used to contains stacks and stacks of optical drives and recordable media. To be fair, those are really as much in use anymore, but even so it hurts to see it so bare.

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What you're looking at here is where they used to stock power supplies, computer ram, water cooling systems, computer fans and other items. Just a year ago the shelves were so high you couldn't get to the top without a ladder. Now there are 2 hard drives with 'previously opened' stickers on them.

Funny enough, hard drives don't even below on this aisle. They used to live on the other side and took up about 40 feet of shelf space!

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It looks like they aren't even stocking many Macs or PCs anymore. In fact, I didn't see a single Apple computer at all. Just empty platforms where they used to sit. This last platform used to be filled with the latest gaming monitors, but now they don't have a single one.

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Also, all of the tablets are gone. Interestingly enough, they still seem to be fully staffed in the store! Employees are still walking around asking people if they need help finding something. Of course most people just respond with a confused look and say something like 'There's nothing to find!'

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Even the flash drive rack is empty. Although they appear to be fully stocked on portable air conditioners.

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The parking lot used to be so packed that you often had to drive around to find a spot for several minutes. Now you're lucky to find even this many cars in the lot. I imagine most of the cars belong to employees, though.

So I really don't know how Fry's is managing to keep their doors open. Whenever I ask someone if they are going out of business, they always say no, and that they will be getting stock in soon. However, this has been the line for over a year now! All I can think is that the owners have some deep pockets as well as serious attachment issues.

Perhaps the Electronics store is a relic of a bygone era. I suppose all that we can do is move forward and embrace change and the future! After all, the only thing that is certain in this life is uncertainty!

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They will go the way of Blockbuster and Toys R' Us sadly. In my neighborhood there was one last toy store I could take my kids to and last time I went they told me they were shutting down. I realized my kids would probably be the last generation to experience toy stores just like I was the last generation to experience video rental stores.

Guess that's just the way it goes.

It would seem that is their fate! I always dreamed of going to Toys R' Us when I was a kid, but in Dayton Ohio where I lived my parents never took me there. lol! They said it was too expensive and we went to some other toy store that kinda sucked.

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I do think that some retail stores would go out of business as online stores are what most people are using already Sir @nuthman

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Well we all know the answer here, the entire tech industry is an online one. Really, bricks and mortar shops of all sorts will be a thing of the past soon. I just hope they replace them with microbreweries or at least a Dave and Busters.

I remember when Circuit City shut down... that was the beginning of the end in my mind.

I was a regular at Radio Shack as a kid and teenager. The last time I was in the states the GameStop appeared to be doing ok, but the Radio Shack was entirely stocked with mobile phones and cheap tablets.

Never heard of Fry's but that place looks like a store that is just trying to get rid of what little stock they have left before they close their doors for good.

It's the truth, just hard for me to swallow. I wish there was a way for these electronics stores to find a niche somehow. I do order most of my stuff online, but there is something to be said about the joys of browsing the aisles.

I don't even mind if it is a bit more expensive, I get it that they have overheads. But unfortunately it isn't just a little more expensive, but a lot more expensive in most cases!

I hadn't heard of Fry's either until I moved out here to CA. In fact, even at that point I thought that electronics stores of this size had pretty much gone the way of the dodo. At first I thought what you said, they they are just trying to get rid of stock. But the rate at which they are doing it... It seems like it would be unfeasible. It has to cost more to stay open than the minimal sales they are doing!

Geesh ,thats amazing. Never seen anything quite like that with the employees saying they have no plans to close down. Remarkable that there is no invetory

Yeah, man. It's crazy and a bit depressing, really. I am sure most of them are wondering when they'll come in and be laid off. I hope things do pick up for them.

I wish I would have lived in a bigger city to have store like this when I was a kid. I absolutely love Radio Shack and it was like a candy store for me. I as well would take apart everything I could get my hands on just to see how it worked. In fact, I ended up working for Radio Shack for three years when I got older. I hated the retail aspect of it, but I loved the electronics part of it. I learned so much working there. I was really sad when they went bankrupt and all the stores closed up. There are still some franchise stores here and there, but all of the corporate ones are gone. The one I used to work at sits empty with the sign still over it, but nothing inside. It sucks not being able to just run down the road and find the diode, fuse, or resistor you need. I stopped going to Best Buy a long time ago. They were just so overpriced.

A good friend of mine worked in a Radio Shack back in the early 90s, right after high school. I remember being super jealous of him because I was flipping burgers at Rally's. Haha!

The weird thing about Best Buy is that I could swear that when they first opened you could get good deals in there. But it couldn't have been much longer than that when they jacked the prices up insanely high! I won't even get a cable in there. I remember going in there to buy a cheapo ethernet cable when I was in a jam, and they wanted like $29 for a 6 foot cable. You can get it for $5 or less online. The truth is, it just isn't worth going into the store anymore for stuff like that.

Hi Rick - This is sad to hear, and also rather puzzling, even though while I still lived in Canada (until 2010) I seen the decline of Radio Shack myself and very well remember the parent company, Tandy, because they also operated craft shops (I was into macrame and leather craft long time ago, in my hippie years).
I say puzzling, because what you crave to find, in Vienna, Austria we have several large chains packed to the rafters - Future Shop and Saturn primarily, but there is also Media Markt, Cyberport and Hartlauer, as well as a host of smaller stores.
You would have a ball here - check the map on this yelp search
..... addendum: the competition is fierce, there are deep-cut sales happening all the time!
Example: Cyberport:

More: your photos made me think of how it used to be in Sowjet Russia: