Saturday, February 27, 2021

Fry's Electronics closes all its stores, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse and pandemic

The Retail Apocalypse claimed another victim this week, as Fry's Electronics announced they would be closing all its stores and going out of business. NBC Bay Area reported the news on Wednesday.

Fry’s Electronics, the go-to chain for tech tinkerers looking for an obscure part, is closing for good. Bob Redell reports.
Fry's Electronics was a regional chain, but it was a big player in its service area. I first became aware of it reading anime magazines during the early 2000s, as a lot of anime distributors advertised that the store sold their DVDs. That didn't show up in any of the videos about the chain's history. I suppose that's because the people commenting are watching anime and other shows on streaming services even though one of the videos below the fold shows that Fry's was still selling DVDs and Blu-ray discs as recently as 2019.

Company Man Mike wasted no time in examining the causes of the failure, as he asked yesterday The Decline of Fry's Electronics...What Happened?

To the disappointment of many, Fry's Electronics has announced that they will be permanently shutting down all their stores. This video talks about the decline of the chain of electronics stores and theorizes where things went wrong.
A lot of Company Man Mike's facts come from corporate filings of publicly traded companies, so he had to speculate about the reasons for Fry's Electronics' demise because the company is privately owned by the Fry family.* He still produced a good history and analysis.

As Company Man Mike described, the problems with Fry's Electronics had been building for years, well before the pandemic. Follow over the jump for two videos from Erik of Retail Archaeology documenting the state of the stores in the metropolitan Phoenix area.

Erik first explored the chain's situation when he asked Fry's Electronics & Incredible Universe: What Happened? (OUT OF BUSINESS) in January 2019. I think he edited "(OUT OF BUSINESS)" into the title just during the past few days.

In this episode we take a look at Fry's Electronics and Incredible Universe.
The archive footage from the location when it was Incredible Universe shows how lively brick and mortar retail was in 1994, especially compared to the video from 2019, just 25 years later. The latter demonstrates how severe the chain's issues had become as of just two years ago.

Erik visited another location in August 2019 and asked an even more pointed question in Fry's Electronics: Will They Be Gone Soon? (NOW PERMANENTLY CLOSED). Like the previous video, I think he edited "(NOW PERMANENTLY CLOSED)" into the title just during the past few days.

In this episode we take a look at another Fry's Electronics store and find things are much worse.
As I wrote above, Fry's was still selling DVDs and Blu-ray discs in 2019, although Erik's footage and commentary showed that business had dried up and started to blow away even then. Also, the answer to Erik's question sadly turned out to be "yes." As I wrote most recently about Chuck E. Cheese, the Retail Apocalypse, pandemic, and resulting recession are claiming business that were already in trouble; Fry's Electronics happened to be one of them.

Stay tuned for the final post of February, a Sunday entertainment feature about the movie nominees at the 2021 Critics Choice Awards.

*I'm descended from the brother of Johnny Fry. I wonder if they are relatives. Maybe I should take a genetics test and see if they show up as matches. That's a subject for another post.

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