Is Fry's Electronics Headed Towards Bankruptcy?

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News Posted: Mon, Sep 24 2012 12:40 PM
The number of brick-and-mortar electronics shops available to do-it-yourself (DIY) system builders and consumer electronics (CE) junkies has fallen dramatically in the past several years. First it was Good Guys that fell by the wayside in 2005, then CompUSA that sunk itself into financial trouble a year later before being bought out by Systemax, and finally Circuit City, which Systemax also scooped up after the chain filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Could Fry's Electronics be next?

Take this with a grain of salt, but a popular news and rumor site claims to have heard from sources (and confirmed with store employees "more than willing" to broach the subject) that Fry's Electronics has fallen behind in payments to vendors by several months. These aren't rinky-dink vendors either, but big-name suppliers like Seagate and Western Digital.

Fry's Electronics
The oldest Fry's Electronics store in existence, seen here, is located in Palo Alto, California.

"At least one San Francisco bay area store's shelving and stock resembled the last days of Circuit City, and The Good Guys as they prepared to be shuttered," the site indicated.

Fry's Electronics has mostly been able to keep itself out of the headlines, save for a recent settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in which the company forked over $2.3 million to settle sexual harassment charges.

If Fry's Electronics was to fall -- and we're not saying it will or won't -- it would leave Best Buy and Micro Center as the last ones standing, plus a spattering of Circuit City 41 CompUSA and TigerDirect.com retails stores under Systemax's leadership (as Systemax pointed out to us in a followup email). The Internet boom has proved rough for brick-and-mortar electronics shores, while online vendors like Amazon and Newegg continue to thrive.
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RTietjens replied on Mon, Sep 24 2012 1:21 PM

The "loss" of Fry's would be no loss. The world doesn't need Door ***.

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Aoshi replied on Mon, Sep 24 2012 2:48 PM

I used to love Fry's. I even tried getting a job there. But I haven't found anything worthwhile at a good price there in a while. Newegg needs more stores!

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NOO!!! Are you two serious? How can you dislike frys? They price match newegg.com and amazon.com for everything not to mention they actually carry a wide variety of (quality) products on the shelves. I really hope this is not true, I refuse to shop at Best Buy.

Now you're just mashing it!

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timaeus replied on Mon, Sep 24 2012 5:15 PM

Considering my local Micro Center recently closed, Fry's is the only local electronics store left near me! Please don't close!

Best Buy really doesn't count when looking for computer components.

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When I get the LA Times I head straight for the Fry's ad - especially the big 8-page ad on Fridays. I didn't mind that Circuit City closed, nor do I shop at Best Buy, but I would be very sad if Fry's went out of business.Sad

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realneil replied on Mon, Sep 24 2012 7:05 PM

Have not been to a Fry's in years. (since I left California)

Usually, I buy from Newegg or drive to a Micro Center (87 miles away) in a pinch. Newegg gets stuff to my door at record speeds.

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I too buy from Newegg, but it is nice that Fry's will match Newegg's price. My brother does not have my patience, so he usually pulls the price from Newegg on his phone and goes to buy it local at Fry's. I sure hope Fry's can pull through. There prices have always been better than BB and CC. Plus, for those that know, they price match Newegg. We have a Frys here in Tempe, AZ and I love going there to look and buy if the price is really outstanding.

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karanm replied on Tue, Sep 25 2012 9:29 AM

Umm for the people that buy from Frys but price match from newegg, you guys do realize that's not helping Frys. An actual store has a lot more overhead cost compared to an online store, that's why their prices are generally higher. When you price match something from an online store you may be forcing Frys to sell below cost, or sell below an acceptable margin that the store needs in order to continue operating. Brick and mortar stores are becoming a thing of the past very quickly, I'll pay a few extra dollars and get the goods delivered to my door rather than trying to navigate the maze of morons at stores like Best buy (don't know about Frys never been to one).

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realneil replied on Tue, Sep 25 2012 10:04 AM

karanm:
you guys do realize that's not helping Frys

Sometimes, many of us don't have the luxury of paying a little extra in this economy and if we're on a fixed income like I am.

One thing that I remember about Fry's stores, is that they have a huge inventory of products in the store, and on display. It was hard to get through the place without seeing ~something~ else to tickle your fancy and make you spend more than what you had planned to. It worked out that way every time I ever went to Fry's. The one I used to go to was right next to an airport in So-Cal, and it was an hour's drive from my place in the Antelope Valley. After factoring in the cost of fuel for a Malibu Super Sport and my time driving, I may not have saved any money on these trips, but I loved browsing their store. They had everything there.

Costco is the same for me. That place always costs me a bloody fortune when I go there. So now I don't.

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karanm replied on Tue, Sep 25 2012 3:17 PM

realneil:
It was hard to get through the place without seeing ~something~ else to tickle your fancy and make you spend more than what you had planned to

That is a good point but as you pointed out a common occurrence in any store. I share your feeling over Costco and that's why I used to fill up on the samples that they gave out all over the place :) The only thing I wanna make sure that people get is that price matching an online competitor is never a good thing for a brick and mortar store.

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TBallard replied on Tue, Sep 25 2012 4:23 PM

I doubt this is true or that Fry's is in big trouble. I buy things there a lot more since they started price matching a lot of online retailers. That and I go there often as sometimes I want to buy things locally where it is easier to return or exchange something if I have a problem rather then having to mail it back to an online retailer and wait for all the shipping one or both ways or whatever. Also, I see the store buys a lot, there is no lack of customers it seems like to me, and it's not hard to spot people leaving with big ticket items. Although I'm in northern california, so they might not be doing as well in other markets.

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JOMA replied on Tue, Sep 25 2012 4:50 PM

Never been to a Fry's but I used to order online from them when they had some crazy sales. Always wanted one around here but now we have MicroCenter and I'm happy with that. Too bad if they go under, like more store like them.

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Sep 28 2012 9:31 PM

When I have days to spare, I usually buy from NewEgg. But, if I want to go looking... and want to see some actual deals and a real selection... I go to Fry's. I've read a couple of stories about people having problems with them, but I never have. Best Buy, on the other hand, has no good deals nor a great selection.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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CLerner replied on Mon, Oct 1 2012 5:06 AM

This would definitely be a true tragedy and a major setback for innovation, IMHO, for Silicon Valley. I see many hardware engineers going there for very hard to find parts that you need "NOW" - not in 1-2 days from newegg or amazon.

I find this is one of the best places to buy computers/laptops as you can actually try before you buy. If Frys goes away, Best Buy and possibly Radio Shack (which doesn't carry much computer stuff any more - mostly a cell phone store) may go away too. Then we're left with returning 50% of what we buy because it's either the wrong parts or defective.

This would cast a dangerous shadow, IMHO, over silicon valley.

BTW, agree with @karanm - that matching prices - doesn't help Frys unless you buy services and/or stuff at retail prices there.

Didn't help that they had huge embezzlement scandal last year, too.

Wish you luck Fry's!

(PS - This feels like the Music Store closings, then the Book Store closings......What's next? Clothing stores?)

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The sad fact is that it's cheaper to sell online, therefore you make more money by doing so.

The purpose of being in business is to make money (as much as possible) and nobody's gonna be sentimental about it for very long and survive.

I think that it's a shame that it's so, but I understand why people buy online.

I've been on a retirement income for a long time. When I retired, it seemed to be a generous amount. But it will never go up. My monthly check takes a hit every year due to the rate of inflation. Price increases abound and higher taxes take their share too.

Where I was comfortable before, I now have to watch what I do, and when. This is my reality.

If I can save 10% or more by ordering something online, I do it, mainly because I don't have the luxury of overspending for something.

Example:  I just bought seventy-five (3 packs of 25ea.) CR2032 Lithium Batteries online for $11.76 total for all three packs, shipped to my door. This I did just a few minutes ago. I have already bought one 25ea. pack a few months ago and they work great and last a long time.

My local Walmart has a package of ~two~ batteries for $6.00 plus tax. Given my circumstances, should I still buy from Walmart?

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karanm replied on Mon, Oct 1 2012 7:31 PM

Its funny because I was having a conversation about getting stuff delivered to your door with an elderly person yesterday and they said that decades ago EVERYTHING was delivered. From the basic necessities like milk and vegetables to their dry cleaning. Then it changed where people had to go out to do all these chores and now with many stores going online times seem to be swinging back.

@ CLerner I sometimes do miss the try before you buy aspect too. I just try to read enough reviews about the product I want before I make a final decision, works most of the time.

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CLerner replied on Sun, Oct 7 2012 6:57 PM

Does New Egg have physical stores? I thought they used and closed them all up.j

@karanm - doesn't seem to work well for laptops, IMHO.

Also, Frys has the best "loss leaders" of anyone. You can get stuff SUPER cheaper - cheaper than anyone - every Friday on select items, although Amazon consistently has better deals.

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I have to agree about the Friday deals at Fry's. I used to buy Friday's LA Times, just to get a look at the deals in their circular.

However, the ~best~ computer parts deals at the time were at the Computer Fair in Pomona. Nothing compared, or even came close to that place.

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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Phineas replied on Sun, Nov 18 2012 2:47 AM

Selection varies, but I just visited and saw racks bulging and items stacked high everywhere. Getting ready for the holidays. I had good success. Got some good gear. Service was pretty good. They were packed, but just waited a minute. Price match was smooth.

The apparent ease of online ordering is cool, but what if you have to return it. I prefer to keep the jobs local and business local when I can.

Service is what makes the difference between local retailer and just ordering on the web. Businesses like fry's will either succeed or not based on their service to their customers.

P

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James1001 replied on Tue, Dec 17 2013 7:15 PM

I wouldn't care if Frys did disappear. If you ever tried to get a rebate honored thru them. It's a fight and waste of your time. My last time shopping there was Black Friday. Ordered on line two items. Tried going to the store to pick them up, mistake. You couldn't find a parking spot. The next day I returned, they said they returned the item to stock. Because it was only held for Black Friday. I said it was charged to my credit card. They said it was only held and not charged. Why say it was held, when in truth it wasn't held. The manager was going to give me the item at sells price, but I had to hunt them down. No promise any were still in stock. It was of course a come on, get you in the store to buy more. I will shop at New Egg or else where on line. Why battle the idiots for lower prices, when it's just as cheap online. Frys are crooks, customer serve is a battle with them. Could tell more stories, but you get the point. Save yourself the trouble, don't shop there.

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