It didn’t have the large national footprint of Best Buy, but Fry’s Electronics still managed to court a following of loyal consumers.
On Wednesday, the electronics chain started 36 years ago announced it was closing its doors due to shifts in the retail industry, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic keeping shoppers out of stores. “The Company will implement the shut down through an orderly wind down process that it believes will be in the best interests of the Company, its creditors, and other stakeholders,” reads an excerpt of the message on Fry’s website. A big reason for Fry’s appeal was the experience. Tony Pierce, a Hollywood resident who frequented Fry’s stores in California, said visiting Fry’s was “like Disneyland” for gadgets and electronics. “During the era before Apple really took over the computer world and you would have to try to build your own PC compatible computer, they were the go-to place because they would have all the parts,” said Pierce. “They would be really, really cheap.”
Part of Fry’s appeal, says Pierce, is each store had its own unique theme. The one in Burbank, California, for example, had a 1950s-style space theme complete with a UFO sticking out of the entrance. Pierce recalls Fry’s being one of the first stores he remembered placing racks of candy or other small gifts near the cash register to get you spend while waiting in line.
“They really were the masters of getting you to buy extra stuff as you’ve already bought tons of stuff,” he said. “You could never go out of that store without buying something.” On Reddit threads, several users posted their memories and appreciation for Fry’s.
“Fry’s was great because it was the only store where I could actually find ALL of the computer peripherals I saw on the internet,” said a user who goes by McRambis on the site’s technology subreddit. “The selection of mice, keyboards and gaming headsets was staggering.”