Far too many businesses have not—and will not—survive COVID-19. But the latest company to shutter its doors means customers are losing more than just somewhere to buy a new TV. They’re losing an experience, the kind of place that hearkens back to the days of big, fun, ambitious stores that were worth going to just to look at. Fry’s Electronics, home of grandiose themes, creative architecture, and giant sci-fi paraphernalia, has closed all of its locations.
The nationwide chain has announced (in news we first heard at The Verge) it has ceased operations entirely after more than three-and-a-half-decades. The company’s official website now features only a farewell message.
“After nearly 36 years in business as the one-stop-shop and online resource for high-tech professionals across nine states and 31 stores, Fry’s Electronics, Inc. (‘Fry’s’ or ‘Company’), has made the difficult decision to shut down its operations and close its business permanently as a result of changes in the retail industry and the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. 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.”
Sad to hear about Fry's Electronics closing. Back in olden ZIM times we spent many, many way-too-long lunch breaks in the Burbank one. pic.twitter.com/PkL6O5G4r6— Aaron Alexovich (@essrose) February 24, 2021
Based on their own announcement, COVID-19 was the proverbial final nail, not a fatal single blow. The brick-and-mortar electronics business had been struggling for years to compete with an ever-increasing online shopping world.
This news isn’t shocking to anyone who has been paying attention. The company’s struggles were well documented before the world shut down. This video was made in January 2020. Not this year.
Fry’s officially “ceased regular operations and began the wind-down process” on February 24. The company hopes “this orderly process will reduce costs, avoid additional liabilities, minimize the impact on our customers, vendors, landlords and associates, and maximize the value of the Company’s assets for its creditors and other stakeholders.”
Fry’s says it is also reaching out directly to customers who are waiting on repairs. And they are also contacting consignment vendors. The company’s farewell also includes contact information for anyone with outstanding business.
Just because this was all but inevitable doesn’t mean it isn’t disappointing. Where else will we be able to shop for a Blu-ray while a giant octopus breaks through a nearby wall? And how many stores feature crashed alien spaceships above the entrance?
COVID or not, you might prefer to buy your electronics online. But no website will ever let you feel like you actually walked into a bad ’50s B-movie.