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Fry's Electronics is closing all stores (twitter.com/bill0004)
488 points by synack 48 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 308 comments



Lots of nostalgia about Fry’s here. Well, I have a different take. Fry’s was my first job, and my first introduction to wage slavery. They never at any point cared about employee health or well-being. Breaks were the state minimum. Pay was the state minimum. The entire staff (and there were hundreds back in the day, when the checkout line would back up into the store even with 20 registers open) shared one 7x7 beige break room. It looked like something from Prison Architect, just an old tube TV with bent bunny ears (you weren’t allowed to turn it on though, it was for training) and the stale smell of cigarette smoke. Knowledge was irrelevant, it was all about sales. SPIFs (bounty-style sales commissions) and revenue ruled the day. Aside from that, the owners didn’t care; cliques and in-groups ruled hiring and firing in the absence of leadership. Stores were always falling apart even when they were new. I don’t think anything over 7’ up was ever dusted; even 20 years ago, it was so thick in some places you couldn’t see the paint. The repair bar employees would regularly rifle through customers’ hard drivers and keep the juciest pictures.

Just another cynical retail empire, pumped hard and drained dry by its owners while the foundation rotted from below. May they build condos on its grave.


We mainly stopped going there because they treated customers like they might be stealing something. We didn't like being treated like potential thieves; I know they probably have a problem with shoplifting, but being constantly treated like that isn't pleasant.


I agree with this. There are so many other stores that do loss prevention in a way that is effective but very muted if you aren't a thief. The way Fry's did it almost felt like disdain towards their customers.


Admittedly the very few times I went to Frys, I just walked around them.

They yelled to stop. I yelled back to call the cops if they have proof.

And... nothing happened. Nothing ever happens. Because I don't steal; I go through the register; and I leave with product that I now own.


I've done that at Walmart before. Walmart has this policy where if the item you bought is too big to be put in a bag the greeter tries to check your receipt.

You're right - they can't do anything. But it still is a very unpleasant interaction. Also, not very effective anyways. Target on the other hand doesn't check receipts, but they have a well trained loss prevention team that watches the cameras and they know when someone is stealing. The only person who gets a bad experience is the person committing the crime.

Overall though, I just hate the experience of going into stores in general these days. Not just because of COVID, it's because in almost all cases, the staff is incentivized to sell you things that make the company the most profit. Either because they get a commission or because if they don't they get their hours cut etc... They aren't actually trying to help you solve your problem, which is the whole point of having sales associates.

So now I end up doing independent research on whatever I'm going to buy, it's usually cheaper online and I don't get asked if I have a rewards account, what my phone number/email is, what my zip code is, do I want to open a credit card? etc etc...


I often open packages so I can actually see the product before buying it (if the package is not sealed shut), and I've always wondered whether this catches the attention of people on the cameras. I've never done this in electronics stores, but for stores like Princess Auto (similar to Harbor Freight), particularly in the surplus section, it's practically required because so much stuff comes in generic boxes with no or poor pictures amd very little labelling. Other stores, too.


The Target system isn't 100% effective though. I once saw a guy ask to see a laptop, then grab it and make a mad dash for the door. He got away with it. I think it was shortly afterwards when they moved the electronics department to the back of the store.


I got caught shoplifting at Fry's once upon a time when I was on new medication acting crazy impulsively. The loss prevention guy tackled me in the parking lot and the rest is history. He said he was an ex-marine. Luckily the thing I stole was on sale that day and did not exceed $500, so it was a misdemeanor but I would end up spending way more than that in attorney, court and probation fees.


At a point in my life I liked that place but that was a very brief moment. I saw they did everything wrong, they staff wasn't knowledgeable and you wouldn't expect them to be at minimum wage. The isles I cared about most, the electronics component and the test equipment isles were always shitty, if I bought something it would never get restocked again.


Sad to hear these stories. For me, Fry's was the opposite. I wouldn't call them experts, but they were more knowledgeable than the competition (Best Buy, etc). Also, no other place in this city that has some of the components they would sell. Now the only option is to buy online.


To be fair, "more knowledgeable than Best Buy" is a pretty low bar. In desperation I went to a Best Buy looking for a SATA controller (circa 2004) and they said "The controllers are over here..." and took me to the game pads and joy sticks.


I can beat that.

A couple of years ago, I'd asked where their UPS's were (I'd bought one from a Best Buy more than 10 years back so I knew they had stocked them) and they told me there was a Fedex near by.


L O L !

That's hysterical. Thanks for sharing it!


The last time I went to Best Buy I wanted a laptop. Found a good one but there weren't any out on the floor, so I waited forever for a salesperson to help. They went into the back room and came back out, saying it was an older model that was no longer available but I could have the replacement model if I wanted. I asked to see that model and they said sorry, we don't have a display unit. I whipped out my phone and quickly found out that Micro Center had it in stock, on sale for $50 less. Couldn't get out of there fast enough.


Yeah, I too had an annoying case where the Best Buy salesperson pretty much said he wouldn't help me find the product that their web site claimed was in stock. He just pointed me to the aisle and said "If we have it, it's there" - ignoring my remarks about it not being in that aisle.

So I went online, ordered it for pickup, and simply came back a few hours later and picked it up.

I needed it the following day so I couldn't rely on an online purchase with shipping.


In my case I had a local Micro Center store, so I didn't have to wait for shipping. It was just an inconvenient drive.


> To be fair, "more knowledgeable than Best Buy" is a pretty low bar.

Now that Fry's is gone, Best Buy is the only option in town. So yes, it's a low bar, but it is the only bar here.


Yet now online has no product in stock either, just like Fry's.


Honestly, except for the commissions bit (I never had a commission job), that describes every retail job I had as a kid. I think margins are too thin to focus on cleaning, maintenance, and break rooms. I usually took my breaks anti-socially in my car.


It certainly describes the retail job I had as a high school kid at Advance Auto Parts. Minimum wage, minimum breaks, awkward hours, pushy sales requirements from corporate, auto repair education was a joke and it basically self-selected for the few weekend wrenchers willing to work for $7.25/hr.


> The repair bar employees would regularly rifle through customers’ hard drivers and keep the juciest pictures

Pretty creepy. And this is from a well known company/establishment.


I remember taking my computer into repair at some Chinese shop. When I came to pivk it up, all their floor demos were showing the pictures and animations I had collected.


Really compelling advertisements for full-disk encryption here..


Did you call them out on it?


This reminds me of a time about two years back where I smashed my iPhone screen dropping it without a case in a parking lot and I immediately needed it for 2FA and things so I took it directly to a phone repair shop. The guy there attempted to ask me for my pincode several times and I had to deadpan stare him in the eyes and say "You will not get my pincode to replace my screen. Just put a new screen on it."


Snowden has said similar activities go on in the NSA too


I took a machine to Fry’s to be repaired once. The look of surprise and disappointment when the tech saw there were no drives in it was hilarious. They did a good job though once we got past that.


Reminds me of the Fry's Electronics Employment Application:

https://web.archive.org/web/20200130175501/http://homepage.s...


I knew some people that worked at one of their stores about 15 years ago or so, and that sounds about on the same level as their experiences.


This describes Walmart, Best Buy, Circuit City, Staples, etc or pretty much any low level retail job. I don't think any employer at all really gives a flying fuck about their employees though. You start making $70k+ and they seem to care, just a tiny little bit but I think it's all mostly to put on a show and really only about making money. Reality hurts.


Do you have reason to believe this was endemic to the whole company, or could it have just been your store?


I was never employed at Fry’s, but regularly shopped at the Oregon and Washington stores, and to this day I always remember thinking that the employees looked more bedraggled than at any other store I had or have ever shopped at. There was a feeling of defeat, abuse, and under-appreciation in the air.


>bedraggled

Good word! I'm going to use it today


Well I worked at the Zanker Rd location, which shared a parking lot with their corporate HQ, so imagine the neglect elsewhere.


As a possibly former employee (who among us can recall every place they've worked in the past?) who may not have looked at any number of prior employment agreements in an awfully long time, and completely apropos of nothing, I just want to note that endemic is such a good and relevant vocabulary word for current events. I mean, there's the global pandemic, and other things people are talking about, all kinds of uses! Very relevant!


> who among us can recall every place they've worked in the past?

I'm in my mid/late 50's, and I can. Even one gig I had for 3 1/2 hours.

Not bragging here, but I suspect MOST people can remember all their jobs. Am I wrong?


I'm roughly the same age, and while I can remember all the brick-and-mortar places I've gone to work, there was a period where I did temp work and I'm sure I couldn't name all the agencies I worked for and certainly not all the clients.

If you're younger and grew up in the gig economy, that might be much more common.


In my 30s here but I think I more or less remember. For a year or so I worked as a temporary admin assistant in a few locations, the details on some of those are getting a little fuzzy these days. But if anything I remember the feeling of working there a lot better than what the workplace looked like.


> MOST people can remember all their jobs

indeed.


Nice bait - you pull me out of lurker mode to respond. I remember most jobs I have had that were paid - including that one kelly temp services job I had that I drove 1.5 hours out into the middle of no where to stand on the start of a one way bridge with a stop sign on a pole and wear a hard hat in the hot sun to 'help' direct truck traffic to a quarry. I was only there 4 hours, but still remember why I was so determined to complete an education.


Everyone took this VERY literally. Interesting.


Worked at Best Buy, same exact experience.


Geek Squad personnel are paid FBI informants.


Surprisingly, true: https://www.cnet.com/news/fbi-paid-geek-squad-staff-to-be-in... However, they aren't all FBI agents (duh).


This isn't surprising to me. What does boggle my mind, is that anyone would take their personal PC to any repair shop and allow strangers full access to their filesystem in the first place. What an odd and ignorant thing to do.


It's simple, really: "Do I have to type in my password to log into windows? Yes? Okay then there's no possible way around that. here you go my good sir"


You may not be aware, but this mostly describes every supermarket grocery store (save for the commissions).


My first real job was at CompUSA. And my experience was identical to what you just described.


I worked there for half a day. Did the training and had just started my job when the manager told me they needed me tomorrow at a store 4 hours away at 6am. I left and never came back.


I liked CompUSA. The employees I interacted with were great. Boise, ID. Was sad when they closed.


It wasn't the worst job I ever had, but the place was really poorly run, and they took advantage of me.

I was just a high school kid stocking shelves, but knew as much or more about the computers as the fulltime commissioned sales people. I was constantly getting paged to assist a salesperson.

I would do all the work, explaining the product and helping the customer make a decision, and then the salesperson, would say "Thanks, I'll take it from here."

Also, their theft control was atrocious. The cameras were not on, the guy checking receipts at the door barely looked, and people just walked about with expensive stuff all the time.

Wasn't surprised when they folded.


I remember when most of the afternoon/night crew at Fry's were H1B's from companies in the Valley, earning an extra buck part-time.


Same, first day was black friday. Changed any views I had of buying things in general


I was happy this shit company went out of business before you posted this.

Now I'm ecstatic.


I’m not surprised, but this makes me feel incredibly sad. I built my first PC using parts from there. I’m going to miss it.

But once Fry’s pivoted to be a consignment store that was mostly empty and selling pallets of bottled water and perfume, it was obvious the business was about to die.

Curiously, Microcenter has managed to live on and seems fairly robust. I can’t help but think Fry’s tried to sell too many different products and had a massive amount of floorspace to keep up. Whereas my local Microcenter just sticks to electronics and the store is much smaller and feels cramped in comparison.


I was pleasantly surprised by Microcenter in November of last year. I was looking for a laptop and apparently Microcenter has a house brand called Powerspec. It turns out they are a very user-focused brand that a) has no bloatware preinstalled and b) has high performance and every single port you could possibly want.

When I went, there was a little bit of hovering but overall the staff were nice.

Protip: whenever you shop there, even if no one helped you, choose an employee and let them put their sticker on the merchandise you are buying. They track who helped which customer by a sticker the staff can put on your item. If you like to be left alone to shop, find an employee who left you alone on your way to the registers!


I was in a Microcenter over the holidays, and was pleasantly surprised by the variety of things they stock. And the pricing was unexpectedly, for me at least, the same as or better than NewEgg on the items I checked.

Best of all, they weren't pushy and hostile when I refused to give my phone number, a pleasant change from years back.


I was also pleasantly surprised by MicroCenter recently. There's one in Brooklyn I had no idea about until I was searching online for places to buy a Raspberry Pi and accessories. Walked in there and it was like a (pleasant!) throwback to the computer store of the 90s.


Since radioshack went out of business Microcenter is the only place I can get last minute electronic components if I'm trying to follow some tutorial that calls for something specific. The problem is that its 45 minutes away, and I cant seem to spend less than 3 hours and $300 every time i go there.


I'm on a powerspec right now. I couldn't build this PC with the same parts this cheap and it comes with a windows license and as you stated, no bloatware. They are fantastic little machines.


I was maining a ThinkPad a few years back and wanted to switch to a beefy desktop. I went into Micro Center and, instead of doing my own build which I totally could have done in Micro Center also, bought a PowerSpec PC with a Ryzen for not much more money and considerable time savings, under the rubric that I could always upgrade it later.

I couldn't be happier. Their machines are pretty much white-box builds. Some of the cases are a little ricey but they are fairly easy to take the covers off of and the internals are nice to work with. The motherboard is a bit weak, but like I said, it can be upgraded, and it comes with enough power supply to support all but the most extreme loads. Not a bad starter choice if you want a new gaming or otherwise tweakable PC.


I’ve always enjoyed micro center, other than a few of the employees trying to force their stickers on stuff. Similarly I’ll find someone I like to load up my items.

I’ve found they often have the best prices, even beating online retailers. At least on mobo/cpu combos.


Huh. I’m not sure about PowerSpec but they do have an in-house laptop and tablet brand: “WinBook”. I’ve owned 2 and had challenges with both. Most recently:

- Touchscreen driver wouldn’t shut off when lid closed

- Inadequate cooling leading to overheating

- The worst touchpad I’ve ever had the displeasure to use

I really do love MicroCenter, I built a gaming PC there myself, but I recommend using the known brands when it comes to systems.


> If you like to be left alone to shop, find an employee who left you alone on your way to the registers

What a wonderful sentiment and comment.


Central Computer is still kicking around -for now.

This is all changing. It's not the same. You used to have a bunch of grey market PC parts distributors all over the east bay (uProcessor, add on Cards, RAM, HDD, etc) that used to sell to beige box PC makers (and individuals) but they went the way of the dodo too (ASI is legit distributor now). Also, remember WeirdStuff? Gone too.

It's a mature industry and the biz has gone largely to Amazon and NewEgg with some at BestBuy (regular people) and to large distributors like Ingram for larger players that can't buy direct from MFG or huge players who build their own.

SARS-CoV2 might have hastened their demise, but it was coming none the less.

PS. The sandwiches + a bag of chips/crisps & drink were not bad at all. Maybe it's nostalgia.


As someone who got back to PC building in the last few years, I’m jealous of people with a micro center in their city. Amazon and Newegg are not up to par


I bought most of my PC from the Tustin (CA) Microcenter. I'm always shocked at how they manage to move enough custom-loop water-cooling equipment to stock it on shelves.

However, LA and OC have huge car modding communities, why not PCs as well I guess :)

I was sad to see the Santa Clara (CA) Microcenter go. It's now a Walmart. No more Microcenter in Silicon Valley.


I moved from Atlanta (where there were two Microcenter stores) to the LA/SFV (where there are 0 unless you count Tustin which is too damn far away), so you’ve caught my attention about the car modding community as being a replacement as hobby electronics source. Any suggestions for stores like that here? I have been to All Electronics which is nice, but it’s one rung below what I need on the technology ladder.


"However" was the wrong word to use here.

I didn't mean the custom car shop are replacements for finding computing equipment, it was more a comment on "there are large communities of people who who like modding cars, so maybe the same sentiment exists for computers".

I moved from Birmingham, AL :)


As some one who went to a microcenter exactly once for a GPU that wasn't ridiculously marked up when I was getting in to Ethereum,but would like to start building my own computer, what does Microcenter offer I can't get from New Egg and Amazon?


They sometimes have deals that beat NewEgg and Amazon prices, like CPU motherboard combos, parts on clearance, etc. They also will price match Amazon and NewEgg prices. The staff at my closest Micro Center is knowledgeable, and of course it’s nice going to a physical store. Shopping for monitors was much nicer being able to physically look at it, rather than trying to comb reviews and hope the one you ordered online looks good.


Same-day shopping, returns, being able to look at things, and talk to people count for something too.

I can't count the number of times when I bought a motherboard, and didn't realize my old AT power supply no longer worked with an ATX motherboard, or some other random standard, connector, or form factor changed. You can ask an employee "Will these five parts make a computer?" and get an answer, or even configure one up on their web site.

Plus, sometimes there are defective parts. You buy a part that doesn't work. You plug together motherboard, RAM, CPU, and power supply, hit the power switch, and very little happens, with no real way to debug. I won't say that's easy or seamless with Microcenter, but if you have five parts from Newegg and Amazon, you're basically SOL.

And if you forgot something -- and I've never built a computer where I didn't forget something -- you can pick it up. All the little things are just easier. Building a PC requires a ton of screws, cables, and adapters. I've never had the right set come with parts. Sometimes, the motherboard, case, and peripheral will all come with the same $0.50 part (Yay! I have two extra I don't need), or none will.

With COVID19, I've missed Microcenter; they don't do curbside pickup, and generally have avoided taking any sorts of basic safety measures. It's odd.


My local microcenter (Cambridge, MA) is clearly taking basic safety measures and seems more or less similar to the local grocery store practices.


I haven't been to that location since the coof hit hard last year. At that time, they were open but locked the fuck DOWN. Only 10 people allowed in the store at a time, and they checked your temperature and made you sanitize before shopping. I guess they got a pass to operate as a seller of "essential goods" (Chromebooks for school kids?) but they were NOT messing around with the pandemic.


I think computer and office supplies are just as essential as home repair goods, auto parts, or household goods in the economy. They're not as essential as food or running water, but they're in that very next tier I think.


The last time I went to the Cambridge Microcenter (~1 month ago) they were spraying your hands with sanitizer the moment you walked in. I haven't seen any local grocery store do that.

It's a fantastic store, but it very clearly hasn't had a remodel since it opened.


Trader Joe's also sometimes does the spray-your-hands--there's one in the same parking lot as the Microcenter.


Maybe I went at the wrong time.... I went once, and decided to never come back again. Perhaps things improved.


As someone who has frequently toyed with getting more serious about electronics over the years, I find the ability to browse components in person invaluable.

Unfortunately my Frys has been crumbling for years (nothing says “commitment to excellence” like dozens of buckets around the store capturing rain water), and I finally gave up going.


They offer the option to transact in cash and avoid the panopticon nightmare that is the modern Visa network and banking system.


Ah weirdstuff is gone? I suppose the only businesses left along those lines are the startup graveyard furniture stores


You haven't lived the life of a late 90's bay area nerd if you've never grabbed your copy of Computer Shopper and hit Fry's, Weird Stuff and Central Computer in a single afternoon. With friends. :D


I did that exact routine so many times!

It's not really Silicon Valley anymore without Weird Stuff and Fry's.

Of course, the valley companies aren't really tech companies anymore either. Just adware wrapped in tech, so sad.


There are still quite a few companies in the valley doing actual silicon design. They aren't as flashy.


Early 2000s here but yes it contributed so much to my feeling that it was an engineer/hackers paradise. Now it’s all consolidated so much it feels like it’s just corporate. Hoping I’ll get the chance to find that sort of feeling sometime again in life. I hear shenzen is incredible for that since they still make stuff.


We did Costco hotdogs, with a soda, for lunch before Fry's/Weird Stuff ...


In the late 80s, as a student, we'd make a pilgrimage once in a while from Sacramento to the Bay Area just to visit Weird Stuff and Fry's.


Sac used to have an HSC! Anyone remember that? [edited phrasing]


Truth


Yeah, it closed several years ago. I think HSC is still alive, but changed its name.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/04/08/sjm-l-weirdstuff-0408...


HSC is gone too, sadly. The last surplus store standing in the Bay Area (I think - at least in the South Bay and Peninsula) is Excess Solutions in San Jose (http://www.excesssolutions.com/)


I think HSC was sold to ES


Yes, you’re correct.

If you’re just looking for electronics parts, Anchor Electronics in Santa Clara is still alive and (hopefully!) well: https://anchor-electronics.com/


Visited Anchor a few months ago, during the pandemic. They seemed to be doing fine, knock on wood. I left with everything I was looking for, and more.


Before that, I think they were mail order only for a while.


I worked across the street from Weird Stuff in Milpitas during the mid 90s. It was an awesome place to kill lunch time.


Central Computers can have decent pricing on items, it can be really convenient. They also were reserving gpus for instore customers for awhile, albeit marked up.


I went into central (on Lawrence) a few weeks looking for a new monitor. I’m the kind of guy who does my research beforehand, and generally go in knowing what I want already. But I asked for help and a recommendation. I told the guy my basic requirements and he basically just looked at all the boxes to see if they had the specs I wanted. He had no experience with the products, and was really no help. I get better advice from reading the reviews on Amazon, sad to say.


> Central Computer is still kicking around -for now.

I used to be a big fun of them. But their markup + must be a bundle, buy 3 more items rule for RTX30x0 cards, really put me off.


GPUs were always the dumbest possible products for brick and mortar. Extremely limited customer base, fast tech iteration cycle, and inflexible margins.


CPUs and RAM used to go up and down weekly at least in the grey market "distributor" segment. Fry's and Central, etc, had enough markup they didn't have to worry too much about that. Also, I think Central and other smaller ones were more JIT for low margin products with unstable pricing (they'd have daily deliveries from their grey market distributors).

But surprisingly, GPUs hold their value these days.


True! It's effectively come full circle. Although a ton of that seems like increased "industrial" (mining, render, etc) use of chips + retail segmentation + supply limits.


The RTX cards are going for 2-3x retail on the secondary market, without bundle restrictions they'd be instantly scalped. It's a temporary situation that benefits both CC and normal customers.


I just went to Central Computer for the first time a couple weeks ago! I got my PSU, AIO, and a smattering of other cables and cable wraps. The Microcenter near where I grew up was just too far away to drive and Fry’s never really had the stuff I want anyway. I hope CC sticks around; even though they feel like a relic of the 90’s and 00’s (much like Fry’s) they have a lot of nice components.


I give all my technology spending to Central Computer since discovering them. Order online, pick up same day. It's great.


Aww ... sad about WeirdStuff


The only time I've ever been into a Fry's (due to not living near one) was around 2010 in the Sacramento CA area. It was so huge that I genuinely got dizzy and had to work hard to focus to see individual items (It's a thing that happens to me when there is a lot of "input" for lack of a better term). I suspect that the cavernous real estate (and its cost) only hastened their demise.


Going to Fry's without a VERY specific shopping list was always dangerous for me.

I could blow 3 hours in a Fry's just browsing and barely notice the time that had passed.


That’s exactly why I used to love Fry’s. Some kids went to malls, I guess. Fry’s was my mall.


I was in Bangkok and at one of the largest electronics stores in Southeast Asia, that place put Fry's to shame. I think I spent an entire day in there.


Cavernous is such an apt description. Fry’s uses giant warehouse sized buildings and even the distance in between racks and aisles is wide.

I also remember the checkout lines having dozens of empty checkout stations that I never saw used. I always assumed they were there for Black Friday or something.


They were from back in the day when Fry’s would hire extra people for the holidays and staff nearly every register.

Also back then stores would fill space with extra registers. I was nostalgic and sad when I saw they had removed half their local registers. They had (bought) one of the earliest web retail stores. They ought to have become New Egg with a mini Best Buy and RadioShack for locals. But that’s hindsight and I couldn’t have done it.


>Cavernous

Apropos, didn't the one in Sunnyvale become an REI?


Sports Basement - they kept the enter key on the door though. To be fair when Fry's left that building, it's because they built a bigger one down the street, the one with the sinc function as a logo. It was a glorious experience in the 90s.


> they kept the enter key on the door though

That's a nice touch/nod!

Thanks for the correction, yeah SportsBasement. I went mostly to the one off Portage.


I distinctly recall that location is where we bought the legend of Zelda back in the 80’s when it first came out. Gonna miss fry’s.


My one memory of the Sacramento Fry's is buying a 5 lb GummiBear to prank a friend. Not 5 lbs of GummiBears, a single 5 lb GummiBear.

Sorry to see the stores close.


Hey, I have the same issue. I get dizzy inside malls too


Thanks for commenting! I appreciate knowing I'm not alone in this. It's very unnerving when it happens. I pride myself in being spatially oriented, and when I get into huge spaces with lots of distractions, my brain does weird things.


Happens to me at Comic con, but not concerts before the band goes on. Not sure what triggers it. I’ve been to busy cities with lots of neon too.


I think they owned their real estate (although there were probably taxes)


I hope microcenter doesn't go the same route as fry's. they need to keep the knowledgeable staff, I think they need to up their game in staff to be honest. also they need to update their fing stock more often and more accurately. also as much as it pains me to have to travel 40 mins to get to one, a limited number of locations is key, it helps reduce costs down.


> I’m not surprised, but this makes me feel incredibly sad. I built my first PC using parts from there. I’m going to miss it.

Same, the last one I stepped foot in was in 2018 at the one near the Tesla factory in Fremont after my interview, and it looked absolutely dead. I thought with so many tech nerds in that town you'd be bound to see a bunch guys getting together after work and just buying up carts of stuff of the shelves and working on a side project.

But, nope... it was like 20 people max and it was actually really sad to me as years before I went to the ones in Orange County and we had lines out the door on certain days.

Well, COVID claims another retailer and thus the brick and mortar get another nail in it's coffin.


Fry's has been a dead company walking for a while. They went to their consignment model in 2019 before the holiday shopping season. I remember summer of 2019 there were fire sale prices all over the store. By late 2019 and into 2020 their shelves were empty or "stocked" with filler items. Even without COVID there hasn't been a reason to step into one of their stores for over a year.


I really liked Fry's years ago. It was depressing to see inventory go down so quickly last couple years. I would like a local Microcenter. Their prices are decent and they have good motherboard/cpu combos.


Semi-off topic but Microcenter needs to fix their online presence.

I have five Microcenters within an hour of me, the closest is practically walking distance, yet I was so turned off by the few times I've tried to use their online services I essentially boycotted them.

The first time was using their site for pickup during the pandemic... then not being told until I reached the store that this wasn't curbside/contactless pickup like every other electronics store in the state was doing: you were simply having them being your item to the front, and you would then have to wait upwards of an hour to get into the store and check out manually. (Kind of defeats the 5 minutes you save over picking it up yourself and any possible safety benefit for you and their employees)

-

The second time was trying to built my new gaming PC a few months back. I specifically wanted to buy from Microcenter to support a brick and mortar store...

I added thousands of dollars of parts to my cart, went to checkout and it wouldn't let me. It declined my card despite no fraud alerts, confirmed billing address, etc.

After two tries it cleared my entire cart.

Go through my history, re-add everything, and it fails to checkout again and again until my cart is cleared again and I give up and go to Newegg.

When I brought it up people said this was common, and the fix was to use another card because sometimes it randomly wouldn't accept certain types (!)

-

I get Microcenter is "physically-oriented" but I don't get how long they can stay relevant with their abysmal online presence.

You shouldn't be losing sales because of a crusty checkout flow in 2021...


might be a legitimate complaint but I think it’s off topic in this thread.


What mystified me was how they thought the consignment shift would pan out, and didn't immediately reverse course when it didn't: Fry's was always heavily trafficked with people purchasing there every time I was there prior to the consignment shift.


The consignment model was because they didn't have any money to pay suppliers for merchandise. So it was something of a choice between having nearly empty shelves and completely empty shelves.


"I’m not surprised, but this makes me feel incredibly sad. I built my first PC using parts from there. I’m going to miss it."

Yeah, same here. I'm not sure if the first PC I built was from Fry's parts but the second+ definitely were. I used to love going there in the late 90s-early 2000s – they put a lot of effort into demo areas/displays back then and the selection was unbeatable, especially for components and things that Best Buy wouldn't (and doesn't) even bother with. I get that paying retail rents to stock $2 patch cables doesn't work these days but I will miss it.


I graduated college in 1985 and moved cross country to Sunnyvale for work. Fry's was a supermarket chain, and at the time there was one and only one location that was trying out carrying computer stuff, on the east side of Lawrence Ave I think, before they moved to the west side of Lawrence.

They weren't yet fully committed to it. Half the store was produce and such -- milk, eggs, lettuce, etc, and the other half was rows of TTL parts, memory chips, diodes, capacitors, and resistors. It blew my mind. I bought a 68000 CPU, 128KB of DRAM chips (64Kx1 density back then), a perf board, wirewrap wire and a wrapping tool, EPROMs, sockets, and built my first computer all from parts I bought at that Fry's.

About 60 seconds away from Fry's was Computer Literacy -- a really great bookstore that, as the name implies, had nothing but computer related books. It wasn't 20 copies of "Computers for Dummies" books. The vast majority of inventory were single copies of the most arcane stuff -- all sorts of college level CS textbooks, and you could ask the desk to order just about anything if you knew the title of it.

I sent a lot of money and time in both locations. Silicon Valley felt like a magical place back then.


I lived near the Palo Alto Fry's around the same time when I was a kid, and I always remembered it as a supermarket with some electronics. It wasn't until college that I got interested in computers and electronics and started to go back to Fry's again. I was always sort of puzzled - did I remember the supermarket correctly? Was it a Fry's? Whenever I said to people, "Fry's was a supermarket," they looked at me like I was indeed crazy.


You are thinking of this (owned by Kroger's):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fry%27s_Food_and_Drug

Similar logo, but different store, although they do share an origin.


Not similar, same. John Fry went to school at Santa Clara University, and brought the family franchise supermarket store to the Bay Area, then localized it. At some point selling electronic parts in Silicon Valley was more profitable than selling produce, so the Bay Area "Fry's Food and Drug" became "Fry's Electronics".


This was a source of confusion for me as a kid. My dad, somewhat excitedly, saying "They're opening a Fry's here!" "...what's wrong with the one that just took over Smitty's?" "No, for electronics!" "They're putting in an electronics section" "No it's a Fry's Electronics. Computer and electronics parts." "Oh, cool..." And until we went I think I still had in mind a grocery store with some computers just past housewares.


Yep, but at some point, the Fry's in Palo Alto did become solely a Fry's Electronics.


Actually parent remembers it right. At that time, Fry's in the Bay Area was roughly half supermarket and half electronics.


> on the east side of Lawrence Ave I think, before they moved to the west side of Lawrence.

541 Lakeside Drive, Sunnyvale, to be exact. That was the original location of the original Fry's. That location moved across Lawrence Expy. sometime in the fall of 1990.


>Half the store was produce and such -- milk, eggs, lettuce, etc, and the other half was rows of TTL parts, memory chips, diodes, capacitors, and resistors. It blew my mind. I bought a 68000 CPU, 128KB of DRAM chips (64Kx1 density back then), a perf board, wirewrap wire and a wrapping tool, EPROMs,

This would have been an absolutely amazing store to have locally in 2020.


Wow, Computer Literacy I completely forgot about them. As an east coast geek they they were like a unicorn.

When I joined Sun Microsystems in 1990, and I went to orientation training in Mt. View it was like visiting heaven when I got to walk in the door of Computer Literacy.

I also bought a few books from them via email, ah, the beginnings of eCommerce. Jeez I'm old.


Hey, I worked for ComputerLiteracy.com, which had bought out the bookstore and then went public as fatbrain.com. #3 behind Amazon and BN.com for a time in volume of sales. I remember when we went up to 1 million SKUs of tech books, which was more than Amazon.

Late 90's was a great time to be in Silicon Valley.


Came here to post the same thing (and it was pretty much the same parts!) Our standing Fry's joke was about how one side of the aisle had chips, but the other side had chips. I haven't been there since early 90's, though, so at least it remains as it once was in memory (of questionable density at this point).


I thought the two were unrelated! I only heard about the supermarkets maybe a year ago, but I've been going to the electronics store for a decade and a half. Did they split off at some point?


> Silicon Valley felt like a magical place back then.

I ditto that! I was fortunate to spend a fair bit of time in SV (including Fry's) back then. That time+place was inspirational.

SV (and Fry's) are nothing like they were back then. Perhaps ironically, the rise of the consumer Internet coincided pretty closely with the death of that era of SV.


That was probably an amazing decade for the Bay Area. I wish I was there then to see it.


A nice tidbit: American Institute of Mathematics[1] is located somewhere in the offices of the Aztec-themed Fry's in San Jose (it's the HQ).

John Fry figured he'd sponsor some science, and math is cheaper than, say, physics. So a small library and a room was allocated; you'd get to it through the back entrance, passing secretaries and suits playing mini-golf, until you end up in a very university-like (though small) space.

I've attended a couple of workshops there for geometric group theory (my advisor invited me). It was a pretty solid math experience.

I wonder what will happen to this (I knew the store was a goner a year-ish ago when I couldn't even buy a USB stick there, but still...).

[1]https://aimath.org/


Lots of memories of Saturdays spent wandering the aisles of Fry's with my dad. He mostly wanted to look at the big TVs (this ritual started around the dawn of HD/flat TVs); I mostly wanted to look at the games and computer stuff. It was something we could reliably do to spend time together.

My home store - Plano, TX - was themed after the history of the city itself. Lots of hundred-year-old photos, blown up to 10 feet across and labeled for context. I always thought that was so strange, but cool, that a national chain would put so much effort into localizing itself.

When I moved to Austin after college I made my first big purchase with my own income at the Fry's here: a TV, and a PlayStation.

The last time I made a real purchase at a Fry's, I think, was years later when the VR headset I'd been eagerly awaiting finally came in the mail. My graphics card was too old to support it, and having already waited a long time I didn't want to wait for another delivery. So I ran out to Fry's first thing in the morning and bought a new card (and a breakfast sandwich!). That feels like a good, classical Fry's experience to put a pin in.

End of an era.


I also have fond memories of browsing the computer and electronics super store in the nearest city with my dad and brother. That was in the 90s when all of it was still very magical. It is kind of sad that everything is moving online. Now I order the RAM online or get the game from Steam what once was a day out among likeminded people.


The fry's near NASA in Houston was really cool they had giant models of the Shuttle and the ISS hanging from the rafters.


Every Fry's I have been to in the last decade has felt like the store was already in the process of going out of business. That said, I will miss the place. Sometimes you just need a piece of electronics today and Fry's had a much wider selection than stores like Best Buy.


> Every Fry's I have been to in the last decade has felt like the store was already in the process of going out of business.

Ars Technica says it's because they tried to switch to a "consignment" inventory model, but the manufacturers weren't going along: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2021/02/frys-....

I had no idea that its competitors (Best Buy and Walmart) don't actually pay the manufacturers for their merchandise unless it sells.


Heck, I would go to Fry’s just to browse and ogle all the equipment I could never afford. I genuinely miss that kind of experience.


Very true. They also tried to serve so many different niches that it was often interesting to just walk around the store to see products I would never buy and often didn't even know existed.


No kidding, one day I needed simple DDR4 RAM to get a computer to boot. Didn't care the size, didn't care the speed. Most stores had nothing at all, I remember Best Buy had some older DDR3 (in 2020, and by older I mean I honestly wouldn't be surprised if it was from the mid 2000s). Fry's didn't have anything I would have ordered online but they did have 2x16 GB DDR4.


"Last decade" is an exaggeration, I think, but certainly for the past 2-3 years. Though maybe it just varied by location


I can confirm; at least for the Seattle area (Renton, WA) location it opened to much fanfare, but went downhill years ago.

Elaborating; this must have been around the start of the consignment era. Looking back that's clearly what the deal bins and such at the front of the store were. It was a lack of new parts in the higher end sections that I initially noticed.


I remember going to Fry's for the first time in the late 90s. Having grown up on the East Coast, I had only heard about this magical place where you could buy pretty much anything computer-related. It was truly an experience, especially when compared with from CompUSA and Best Buy.

When I moved to the Bay Area, I did enjoy going to Fry's and walking around ogling the hardware. Over time, I switched pretty much to buying things online. I guess everyone else did too.


For a while there I would find my parts online and then have them price-match in the store. I'd get my item same-day, they'd get the sale. Of course they may have been losing money on those sales, who knows.


In the Bay Area do people often bring dogs into retail stores?


I used to bring my dog almost everywhere: work, stores, restaurants (seated outdoors), the bank. He only waited outside grocery shops and a few places like that. His photo was on my work ID badge.

He weighed about 150 lbs and was meek as a lamb and people rarely objected.


unfortunately dogs owner seem genuinely incapable to realize that some people are allergic and are simply not comfortable with unpredictable animals in public places.


Side note: The comment I responded to has since been edited. It originally said that that the last time he went to Fry's a customer's dog pooped and the next guy entering the store nearly stepped in it (and he made a joke about how the store is going to shit).


Random dislike of pets in public spaces puts a smile on my face as regular folk get a little taste of what it's like to live with social anxiety


Yes, even to food establishments, unfortunately.


They used to bring their pets to the office too till the people with allergies put an end to that.


Unfortunately yes, but seems to be everywhere not just Bay Area.


All the time.


Frys was always fun to go to... but I can’t believe one of the first popular joke websites on the web not linked, only to be found in web archive... the frys employment application https://web.archive.org/web/20200130175501/http://homepage.s...

Heck I think I first saw this in a newsgroup even, but memories are fuzzy


Straight up hilarious.

> Flush a toilet without assistance?

( ) Yes

( ) No *NOTE: If answer to any of the above is yes, please answer YES.


That employment application is seriously funny. So precise.


For the last three years I've had to use my phone's flashlight to peruse the shelves in the Burbank store because they couldn't be bothered (or afford) to turn the lights on.

Fry's saved my ass a couple times. Once it was because I was about to fly out of BUR to Vegas to meet colleagues at a trade show (CES or NAB, can't recall) and they had blown out a transformer we needed for our display, I bought one on my way to the airport. It lasted 6 hours the next day before we gave up.

Another time, after transporting a PC the stock CPU cooler had gotten loose and it needed replacement (the alternative was running a machine that didn't have a backup without any cooling, yikes), and Fry's was the only store that had any CPU coolers in stock other than the Microcenter in Torrance.

It's sad. Now I'll have to resort to pleading with wholesalers to sell me units out of their warehouses. I've had to do this for several classes of components and parts for the last decade. One day drones will be able to deliver stuff from Amazon as fast as I could drive to Fry's, but that isn't today.


not a single whole seller ever let me get something out of their stock. I must learn your secrets. but yeah it was a shit show


call the warehouse or walk into it


It's sad to see them go. When I moved to the Bay area 20 years ago it was the place to go to see what was the coolest things in tech. I built my first PC from components that I got there, generally had a pretty good price. It was good talking with a lot of the store staff because they knew what they were talking about. They were generally younger kids who you knew were going to move into tech so it was fun chatting with them.

I went to the Palo Alto store about a year and a half ago and it was so empty it was depressing. I also stopped off at the San Jose store on Hamilton around the same time and there were more employees than customers, It was funny/tragic some older gentleman was walking his dog in the store and it took a s*. Someone almost walked on it and said I thought this place had gone to s* but I didn't think that they'd taken it this literally. I never went back again, it felt too painful.


My uncle used to care for Donald Fry (started Fry's original supermarket) at his mansion in Arizona. We got to visit and hang out with him and his wife. The place was a palace. And yet two of the nicest, down-to-earth people I ever met. They insisted on us staying the night and fixing us breakfast in the morning. This was a couple years before he passed, and he was already suffering from Parkinson's, but I'll always remember how sweet they were, and nothing like I expected.


It's cool to hear about everyone's good experiences with Fry's in the 90s; maybe they would have managed to stay in business longer if they'd ever updated since that period. I worked at a Fry's (the lone location near Chicago) for a few months in 2014 and it felt like they'd never upgraded anything since the 90s. Not the systems, not the decor-- nothing. If they were trying to make it seem retro, it failed. It just felt _stagnant_. Sad and tacky. I would understand trying to maintain the 90s tech shop feel for their nostalgic techie clientele, except that most of the customers were average Joes buying TVs, normal laptops, or toys for their kids.

All in all it created kind of a miserable environment for employees. After I'd left, I went to a different Fry's in San Jose to buy a laptop and the worker helping me just openly admitted, unprompted, that they hated working there.

Of course, maybe not upgrading anything is actually part of the reason they even made it this far. Everything technically worked, after all, so perhaps the savings were worth it, at the expense of the experience for employees (and likely, then, customers). Do deal-seekers really care what their shopping experience is like as long as they're getting good deals? Perhaps not.


The Downers Grove store was in a weird location, it's not really on the way to or from anywhere except the freeway exits or if you’re trying to bypass Highland.


It seemed like an area lots of suburbanites liked to go to shop. Yorktown mall was right down the road and there were lots of other retail stores and restaurants all down Butterfield Road. That was definitely where my family would go when we wanted to go shopping or have a "fancy" meal (lots of fond memories of the Red Lobster on the corner).


I stood in a long line outside the Downers Grove store before they opened on the day of the HP Touchpad $99 fire sale.

As soon as the door opened, I ran as fast as I could to the computer department desk, near where laptops and tablets were on display. The sales associate, who I had seen the night before, when Touchpads were $299, said that they were sold out.

I later heard that if you bought it within 30 days before the fire sale, they would offer you a price-matching rebate.

I had already bought a $99 Touchpad at Wal-Mart around midnight that morning, and I got the last one in the store, right before someone else came looking for it.


So it’s now after midnight PST and the website is still operating. Is this a false alarm or do we have any new information suggesting that the website and stores will be closing on a specific date?

Because I’m starting to suspect that an unnamed employee at a single store might not be the most reliable source of information about the chain’s nationwide operations.


A second hand claim from some rando on twitter sounds really unreliable.

However, it appears something is happening soon: https://www.kron4.com/news/national/frys-electronics-permane...

Generally you know, there's a liquidation company that takes over, invalidating returns and other types of inventory rules and they sell everything. Light fixtures, cash registers, etc. They'll be around a bit I'd assume during liquidation.

And who's to say what's next. Payless shoes relaunched just the other month after doing a similar thing and the current owners of RadioShack may, if they listen to me, will relaunch as a hobbyist electronics store (arduino, sbcs, linux laptops, oscilloscopes, logic analyzes, robotics kits, drones, sdrs, 3d printers, smartcar tech, iot things, etc... possibly with "copy shop" like services for laser cutting, cnc machining and 3d printing and hourly workbench rental). Supposedly it got passed up the chain and is "under discussion".

Offer that + bootcamps/summer camps for kids but focused on physical gear and put it in a couple key population centers and I think the name RadioShack could become one of America's strongest (but not richest) brands. This also permits a flagship model so the launch will be relatively cheap. It's a "retail second" design, like the cat cafes. The first product is the service.


But there is a difference between Fry's closing at some point, which anyone that has been into a Fry's in the past few years expects, and a surprise shutdown between Tuesday and Wednesday with no prior announcement (which is what was implied by the linked tweet and was the most noteworthy).

I think that the fact that we all did expect them to close at some point caused us to overlook the rarity of a company ceasing operations overnight and we just took some rando's word for it.

Edit: it seems like this unnamed source was correct. Closure information is now posted at frys.com, which isn't quite midnight but close enough. I'm still a little disappointed at HN in general for basically taking one unconfirmed source at it's word without any of the top voted comments questioning or asking for confirmation.


If it is indeed http://frys.com/, the message is up now.


I went there about 2 years ago. It was a graveyard.

I just wanted a USB extension cable, and they only had one, and active extension cable that must have been languishing on the shelf for 10 years.

What I don't understand is how best buy has survived and Frys (I think a much better store) did not survive.


There was a lot of stuff going on in the corp level that really caused a lot of the problems with supply of goods.

https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Former-Fry-s-executiv...


Wikipedia has a lot more detail about him. Basically a Fry’s VP arranged for $65 million in kickbacks from companies that wanted to see at Fry’s, and then gambled away even more than that, and ended up $137 million in debt:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ausaf_Umar_Siddiqui


That reminds me of how TigerDirect ended up [0]. There's another one I sorely miss, especially since there was one store that was a ten-minute drive for me.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TigerDirect#Founders_convicted...


That's for the insightful Wikipedia link!

Really speaks to the mismanagement how an individual can receive tens of millions in kickbacks and no-one else in management identified the fraud.

I wonder how many other companies such behavior is happening in.


I guess almost the same as CompUSA (maybe not as bad as CrazyEddie's tough). Bad/corrupt management. BestBuy tough had and has a much much broader client base and does not have to carry the large number of SKUs.


Best Buy created a high margin stream in repairs and warrantys, while cutting down on low volume goods and basically becoming a showroom for large brands. Companies pay them to display their wares prominently. So if you’re looking for some minor obscure dongle, the stereotype is that if you go Fry’s, you’ll buy the dongle and a bag of candy. If you go to Best Buy you’ll end up buying a TV instead.


But if you buy the TV you'd better buy some cables with it! That's where the profit is.


I have a friend who's worked at Best Buy for the past ~7 years. According to him, they:

- Beefed up their online presence. It's honestly a better experience than Amazon because it's specialized (which is a low bar, but still).

- Use stores as distribution centers. You can make an online purchase and then go pick it up that day if you feel like it, which Amazon struggles to compete with.

- Focus on customer service; both sales and Geek Squad. People who don't know exactly what they want will be lost on Amazon; Best Buy not only has people who will give recommendations, they'll even send someone to your house for free to evaluate your needs. Then after you purchase you can get in-person customer support (which can also go to your house if you want). Almost an "Apple Store for all the other tech products" kind of idea. There's an angle here, of course, but I think there's also genuine value for non-techies.

Contrasting the way they and Fry's responded to the e-commerce era is actually really striking as a case-study


Looks like they finally figured out where to store the rolling ladder (what they used to fetch merchandise from the overhead shelves). This was back when Apple had their store-within-a-store feature at BestBuy.

People in online Apple forums remarked that the ladder was always parked in the Apple section no matter which Best Buy you went to (probably due to the fact that not a lot of people went to BB to buy Apple stuff, this was pre-Apple Store).


Because Best Buy realized they were going to be killed by Amazon and adapted, adding things like price match and more vendor support stuff (like the Samsung store within store thing). If you didn’t and didn’t sell staples (like groceries, where it’s difficult for Amazon to compete), it’s been a rough go of it for big box retailers.


That Samsung thing is annoying and maybe counter-productive for them.

Pre-COVID, I went to a BestBuy for a specific Samsung microSD. Looked all over the flash memory and they didn’t have it, despite it showing in-stock online. Now, because I needed it, I asked for help, employee sighs and walks me over to flash area, we don’t find it. I show them my phone and they realize “oh, that’s over in the Samsung section!” What the hell?


Keeping some SKUs separate may be annoying, but the employee not realizing that until you showed your phone is not an insurmountable problem. Some training and/or an internal memo and the next person in looking for that item will be directed properly.


I'm sure the next person will be directed correctly, provided they bother to ask.

I think more common will be someone will find the flash area and buy a non-Samsung part than it will be that someone will find the Samsung area and being torn between buying a television or some flash storage.

Fixing it so shoppers can serve themselves effectively seems more beneficial for shoppers and BestBuy than fixing it so employees can more effectively cover over the inability to self-serve.


I just saw this displayed in a Best Buy store, but not on the headlines yet. This one is in North Irving, Texas. I hope it is some other issue and not related to what we discuss here. https://d3926qxcw0e1bh.cloudfront.net/post_photos/e9/97/e997...


Is that the Best Buy right next to the Irving Fry's?


Yes, it is.


Non-nerds went to Best Buy.


I'm in a state that never had Fry's, but I was amazed when I finally got to visit one. Motherboards plugged in and on display, whaaat! All those PC parts I always thought you could order online were right there on the shelves at Fry's. They also had sweet looking telescopes and the biggest TVs I'd ever seen at the time. There is something sad about our turn to websites and Amazon warehouses over visiting the store and seeing and handling the product you want before buying.


> All those PC parts I always thought you could order online were right there on the shelves at Fry's.

Imagine what it was like when you could only get such things from a catalog.


The first time I went to a Fry's, I remember most vividly that one corner of the store had the display walls covered with dozens of motherboards. I loved it; it was like a theme park for nerds.


This makes me a little sad. I owe some of the fun and great learning experiences I had in my earlier days to Fry's.

Here are some memories I have from their Austin location that started around the early 2000s - a time when I was transitioning away from being a music major and just starting to dabble in programming and pc hardware:

- I had a basic Dell desktop that helped me through college. Back then, base models came with around 512 MB of RAM. It got awfully slow, and Fry's helped upgrade it to 2 GB of RAM! I was amazed at the difference that made.

- I always had fun browsing their isles. During one of my first trips, I came across Linux distros they sold via CD; those introduced me to Linux nearly two decades ago. I eventually became a full-time Linux user, and have been ever since.

- I bought my first mechanical keyboard from Fry's after feeling what it felt to type on display samples available on shelves.

- Back when I had a DVD collection, 25%-50% of it was likely from Fry's.

- I still have a PHP 4 book I bought from Fry's. It introduced me to my first PHP and Apache install. I remember the fun I had working through that book.

- Eventually, the vast hardware they used to keep in stock got the better of me. An old friend made the trip with me to help me buy parts I'd need to custom-build a pc. And over pizza and beer, we built my first desktop together. It replaced my old Dell mentioned above. I've built every one of my desktops since then, some of which used hardware from Fry's.

- And for a time, anytime I convinced myself I needed additional storage or a faster CPU, I immediately looked forward to going to Fry's.

Those may not sound spectacular, but I think others in this thread will relate to some of them. Personally, what I valued the most, in hindsight, was having a place I could go to and physically experience or navigate paths of my growing curiosity in programming and pc hardware.

The Fry's in Austin is still open, and I'm aware of it's barron nature, but even so, I might make one last trip.


I went there in September 2019 to get an SSD and DDR3 to upgrade a friend's laptop, and they had neither - ended up getting both at Altex. Judging by the state of that store, I'm surprised it's taken this long for them to be going out of business.


Definitely.

Last time I went was probably around 2019 as well. They price matched a Ryzen CPU. When I went to pick it up, the shelves and empty stock throughout the store indicated a business that was no longer its former self. I remember feeling a little sad for them back then too.


I went to a Fry's in San Jose (jungle themed I think) on a Saturday afternoon at 3PM and there were literally 7 cars in the parking lot. I went inside and there were few people and the shelves were loosely stocked with junk from China and random crap like towel warmers.

I hope to read the management post-mortem.


Same for the Renton location. Although the stock is a little better since my last visit it is woefully inadequate. Most of the brands are things I have never heard of.

The entire trip I was just thinking they have to be close to shutting down.

Well I’ll grab some essentials on the liquidation sale.


Local Bay Area TV news channel says it has confirmed the story: https://www.kron4.com/news/national/frys-electronics-permane...


Perhaps the link should be changed to this, as this has more details, formal confirmation from a reputable source, and contradicts some aspects of the original source, such as that the website will go down at midnight, which wouldn't really make sense—presumably they'd want to sell the remaining merchandise.

Edit: or the link in the reply below, which is an even better article (and explains a potential reason that they may not have to sell any remaining merchandise).


Ars has posted an article sourcing the parent, and expanding on some of the context: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2021/02/frys-...


This is too bad. But, it's not surprising. In speaking with a colleague recently, I found out that his local Fry's Electronics was a shell of what it once was, and that they were doing some strange consignment sale things that weren't even through their normal retail channels. Another COVID casualty, I suspect.


Sadly, Fry’s was going downhill well before COVID.


Yep, here's a comment of mine before the COVID lockdowns:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21949585

And the only reason I went in is a friend mentioned it was a ghost town a month before, I had to see it for myself. I'm still curious why they even bothered to pretend to be a business at this point.


This makes me so sad. I was just there not too long ago and it looked like a ghost town, the selection all gone, mainly just empty spaces. I think to experience a store like that ever again one has to travel somewhere like Shenzhen [0]

[0] https://yandex.com/images/search?text=shenzhen%20electronics...


I'm surprised no one is hosting funerals/wakes. Unless you're over 40 and from the West Coast, you probably can't understand how amazing Fry's was before, say, 2005. Fry's was my Disneyland. They had everything I wanted and more. Computers, Software, TVs, high end audio with demo rooms, car audio, electronics components, tools, test equipment, tech toys, geek culture, a well stocked music section, furniture, etc...

I think I first went to Fry's in the mid 90's in LA. The Anaheim store had a mock up of the Space Shuttle's flight deck. It was so cool!

Sure, they went down the tubes. Even 20 years ago, you had to watch out for restocked merchandise. But in their heyday it was a magical wonderland for young geeks like me.


Between this, Radio Shack closing a few years back, and small shops like Al Lasher's in Berkeley biting the dust, there's no longer a place where kids can just walk in and buy $3 worth of exactly what they needed for their project, and another $3 worth of parts they didn't need because they looked cool. Shenzhen and the dark corners of Akihabara are basically it now.


$3? I think I paid closer to $10 for a 555 timer years ago. One of the reasons I stopped going.


That's sad. When I tried to build my own wifi antenna (mid 2000s), I discovered that Radio Shack wasn't really a Radio Shack any more and that Fry's was the real electronics store. I don't even know where one would go to browse for electronic components anymore, especially if you're a newbie and don't know what's out there.


I'm very honestly surprised they lasted as long as they did given how empty the stores were. I wanted to shop there but they never had anything.


Fry’s was a junkyard for years, I’m not even sure how they lasted as long as they did. Playing the “Is this a returned item” game every time you went to buy something was never much fun.

I did get a few great deals there, but it seemed like a long ugly slide into oblivion and I haven’t wanted to go in there for years.


Even before a lot of locations were Fry’s, they were Incredible Universe, a big-box-store concept from Tandy who also owned Radio Shack

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incredible_Universe


Yeah, when it opened, the one in Wilsonville, OR was truly a marvel. Frys was a step down out of the gate. Lately, it's just been disgusting. Maybe it's because I was a kid in high school, but thinking back on the magic of Incredible Universe, it's a truly sad development.


I remember those stores. I remember them because I was switching to CDs for buying music, but needed a dual CD/tape boombox because I would record a new song on tape off the radio to listen to until I had the money to buy the album on CD. And Incredible Universe had all of the above. It wasn't that long ago but it was way different in terms of stores (Circuit City was another that doesn't really exist anymore) and my tech needs.


Everyone likes to claim that private equity firms strip their acquisitions down to the bone and ruin them. That is not an entirely unfair criticism. However, Fry's likely could have been saved by a smart, private equity-led operator, or, at least extended its life. Instead, it was family-run, in an increasingly challenging retail environment, all the executives last names are still "Fry." And now everybody loses: the owners, the employees, the customers, the landlords, the suppliers...


I hope this is fake. Few stores remain with a good selection of maker parts. Though the shelves have been pretty bare for a couple years now.

I have tried to support them recently with a few purchases. With limited stock it has been tricky, though, which I'm sure doesn't help when competing with huge online stores.

For anyone who has never been, most (all?) stores are themed, with huge decorations, statues, and props. Somewhere I read they hired a Disney designer to come up with the themes.


They cleared out all the maker stuff in the last year at the Seattle area location. It was a wasteland. Search around for local small electronics stores--there are a few still out there.


Had you been to a store within the last few years?


I saw this coming a mile away. My local fry's (Renton) used to be a really fun place to visit. Over the past decade or so it has really gone downhill. It is such a depressing store to visit nowadays. A lot of the selves are barren in a no-shits-given sort of way. It doesn't seem like the store is cleaned too often, and most of the time it is worryingly empty. One would think fry's was doing everything they could to make themselves unappealing. Their online store is somewhere between useless and unusable, and is suck in some pre 2010's era. It looks like instead of trying to keep up and adapt with the times, they hunkered down and cut every corner they could until this inevitable demise.

They'll be missed, but I don't think my local fry's closing is going to inconvenience anyone. Best Buy basically ate their lunch: a brick and mortar store you can visit if you want a hands on (or ears on) experience, and not having to wait for shipping at the sacrifice of selection. Said selection is a lot worse than fry's, but at least being in Best Buy doesn't fill me with a sense of doom, dread and despair.


Finally. It has been 20+ years since they were anything like they were reputed to be (and actually were). When failure is inevitable, it's better that it happen sooner rather than later. They've been a sad shadow of their former self for a long time.

I would hope that something new and better might take their place, but it's too hard to be optimistic about any brick and mortar prospect.


No! I always loved browsing the isles at Fry’s, awesome memories.

I’d been asking the network engineers at my employer to set up a rack of routers and for months and the response was always no, too busy, can’t get parts, etc. So I bought a bunch of $2 Ethernet cards and a passive hub from Fry’s, wired it up with bright red Ethernet cable, told them I had a network now so they could take off. Four hours later a guy comes by with a hand cart full of the unobtainable routers and is ready to install.

Another memorable tale from Fry’s - one of my peers bought a CPU and managed to smoke it first try. He returned it to Fry’s and picked another off the shelf, got home - it was the same CPU. He returned it again, got another CPU off the shelf, got home - same CPU again. Third time he went and got a CPU off the shelf first then returned the old one, and was then able to go home and finish his server build.


They processed the return and shelved it faster than he could walk from customer service to the shelf?

They had CPUs sitting on the shelf for anyone to grab?

Fun story, but maybe your coworker was pulling your leg?


At the Fry's in Fountain Valley California, I remember looking among the huge list of CPU price stickers for anything ARM-related, because I'd read on Slashdot that ARM was the future.

ARM, I glumly concluded, would be decades away. Now here I am with an M1; ARM is arriving, while Fry's fades.


Frys has a special place in my heart. It was where I got my first 80486 IBM laptop (with monochrome screen), my first Pentium CPU on its debut, where I got my first copy of Windows 95, and where I bought almost every PC parts for upgrades. I used to marvel at the motherboard and RAM that were displayed in the display behind the glass, and where I was able to get anything from soldering iron to cat5 cable to digital camera. I fondly remember watching Doom on a PC for the first time at Fry's with amazement. I'm saddened to see it go along with CompUSA, Egghead, RadioShack (original), Toys R Us, and even ComputerLand back in the 80's (where I bought Apple IIgs).


The last time I went to a Fry's was 2-3 years ago. I needed a very specific cable that was somewhat obscure. Their teenage employees couldn't help me and after searching it was nowhere to be found in their giant store. What's the point of having such a big store if you can't become the place for that kind of thing?

I bought the cable later that day on Amazon for $6. It came two days later and worked perfectly. That was when I knew Fry's was probably doomed.

Although it's interesting to me that Microcenter seems to be doing better. I think on average their stores are definitely smaller.


We never had Fry’s in my area, but I’d heard a ton about it in online communities growing up. I was spending a week last spring in San Francisco and decided to go check one out. The store was huge, but mostly empty. A lot of the merchandise they did have seemed really beaten up. The aisles seemed kinda dirty, like not horrible, but not great. The employees all seemed like they didn’t want to be there. It was generally a dark experience.

Contrasting that with the Microcenter near my house was stark.

I’ve only been to Fry’s once, and I’m honestly shocked it took them this long to shut down.


In the North Atlanta (Georgia, USA), area the local-ish Microcenter has long been the place where the people "in the know" go. Plenty of stock, of good quality, knowledgable employees, ... (At least it was pre-pandemic; haven't been since then)

Fry's... not so much. Still, their demise makes me sad if for no other reason than my now 20 year old son and I really enjoyed going there when he was younger, so I have fond memories of it.


I don't miss much about living in Lawrenceville, GA, but I DO miss having 2 Microcenters within reasonable driving distance from my home. We have one here in SoCal, but it's way too far away from me. Hope they stay alive for a long time.


it's still great!


I'm surprised they made it this long. I went to the Downers Grove, IL store in December 2019, and it had looked like the apocalypse had hit. I felt downright freaked out as I walked the mostly-barren aisles, and, needless to say, didn't find anything to buy as a Christmas present.

Needless to say, the first thing I did when I got home was try to figure out what happened, and it wasn't pretty. I haven't set foot in there since then, in spite of several trips to Micro Center in that time.


Fry's moved in when I was in primary school; I'd go there with my dad a lot. We bought all the parts for my first home built PC there -like many other commenters. Then, when I was of driving age, my friends and I would go to Fry's when we had extra money, and sometimes when we were broke and just wanted to walk up and down the isles and look at stuff. Friday's we'd sit on a curb outside school before the bell and read the big ad. "Ghost in the Shell's only 10 bucks on dvd! That RAM I wanted more of is on sale..."

I know it wasn't anything close to its former self these days, but I'll miss it. I'll miss running in at 8:30pm on a Tuesday night to grab a spool of cat5. I'll miss pooling cash on a Saturday to replace a hub for a LAN party. I'll miss pallets of huge spindles of CDRs next to pallets of air duster 3 packs. Standing out front for hours waiting for the Warcraft III midnight launch. I'll miss the inexplicable amount of snacks in the check out line, and the pointless and lazily adhered to receipt check at the door. No trip was complete without a receipt checker shouting a conversation over customers to his buddy in customer service, absentmindedly hi-lighting and pretending to look in carts and bags.


What is interesting, for me, I prefer to buy big ticket items such as TV’s and computers from a physical store. With Amazon, I am worried about getting an counterfeit. Even with other online stores, I worry about how it will be shipped and will porch thieves steal it, and will it be delayed.

With a physical store, I can go it, check out a model myself to see how it really feels to me, and walk out the store with my purchase.

With Frys no longer around, I am now limited mainly to Best Buy and Costco.


As a tween who would beg his parents to take him to the OG Fremont store (Mission @ Warm Springs) back in the early 90s, and as a pimpled 14 year-old who was rejected by Fry's for a job but got scooped as a novelty hire at NCA Computer (also RIP), and as someone who spent several thousand dollars of his allowance on games, parts, peripherals, and of course impulse section candy bars, this is the one vestige of my childhood foray into electronics and computing that's held out this long. Weird Stuff and CompUSA were great, but didn't have the same kitsch or, ahem, 'smell' as Fry's. The dime-a-dozen corporate park outfits you'd find ads for in Computer Currents (I'm looking at you, Laitron Computers) just didn't have the same "browsability" or relatively welcome vibe where you could literally spend hours in whichever store just looking for inspiration and guidance on future career paths in tech.

Sure, most of the open box items were used and vandalized, but they were cheap and worked great with a little elbow grease. Sure, 97% of the employees treated customers like shit and huddled in clique-ish corners mocking us for whatever stupid reason - but the 3% of employees that cared (and who were also horribly underpaid) were absolutely amazing at their job. Sure, the food was crap when they started adding cafes. But watching the oversized Tesla coil do its thing while you get a sugar rush from the Frappuccino was better than any Disney experience.

It was a long time coming, but I will miss you Fry's. I'm hoping MicroCenter, Central Computer, Jameco, Anchor, and the other "independents" stick around just a little bit longer.


Wilsonville, Oregon is home to Oregon’s only Fry’s location. I grew up there. I remember running into people from all across the state that would come down for its crazy deals.

The building is huge and prime real estate in a rather affluent town. I wonder who or what they will do with the property. Maybe microcenter could come in. More likely though BestBuy is the only retailer likely to want such a large place but there’s already a BestBuy one town north in Tualatin.


That space is probably three times the size of any Best Buy I've been in. I have no idea what will go in there.


True. It is gigantic. I heard rumors that an outdoor mall operator wanted to develop the space. But it’s anyone guess. I’m sure the Wilsonville city council and others are working to not let it go undeveloped and turn into a blight.


I really miss the weekly/month maker market that used to happen in the parking lot of the Palo Alto store. But this was a long time coming, last time I went to Fry's they had huge pallets of cosmetics and cheap junk in the middle of the store.

Are there even any good stores left in the bay area for small electronics? Best Buy usually only stocks popular items and even then a lot of the smaller items are vastly overpriced. ($20-40 for basic cables really?)


I live in a city in the midwest US. I like it here, but when it comes to electronics my only local shopping option is Best Buy. We used to have a Comp USA and RadioShack, but those are long gone now.

Whenever we travel to a city with a Fry's or a Micro Center, I always have to stop in just to browse. There's something exciting to me about having immediate access to so many computer and circuit components. On one trip we even needed a PC in a pinch and I was able to just grab everything I needed from Micro Center and have it together working in a few hours. That was a crazy experience for someone used to waiting weeks for everything to ship.

I get it. Electronics stores are a dying breed. When it comes to most of their products, people often prefer to wait for shipping to save a few bucks. Online retail has forced them to subsist on razor thin margins. Plus a lot of their inventory depreciates in value extremely quickly. And then there's the pandemic. In light of all that, they're also probably not great to work for.

I get why they're all disappearing. But I'm still disappointed. RIP brick-and-mortar electronics retail.


My biggest memory of Fry's will always be the first visit there.

My dad needed a new graphics card for our family computer (aka his computer). I think this right after we upgraded to XP. He spent the whole time trying to explain to 7yo me why anybody would want smaller pixels. I just wasn't getting that you smash more of them into a smaller space to get a prettier picture.

There was an iMac G5 display too, and I was captivated by that


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