A west coast icon has sadly been claimed by the COVID post-economic fallout. After 36 years of business, Fry’s Electronics put an announcement out on its website that it was closing down all 31 of its stores and shut down all operations.
The reason, according to Fry’s, was the “changes in the retail industry and the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The full company website has been shut down. The front page now hosts a single message detailing the closure of the popular electronics chain. As of now, Fry’s Electronics is reaching out to customers or vendors who have ongoing repairs to discuss what to do next.
The message on the Fry’s website reads, “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.”
“It is hoped that undertaking the wind-down through 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 explained on its website.
There were 31 Fry’s Electronics stores at the time of the shutdown, most of which operated in California and Texas, though all of which were spread across nine states.
According to the summarized version of Fry’s history found on the website, the company originated in Sunnyvale, CA back in 1985 thanks to the three Fry’s brothers, Randy, John, and Dave, as well as Kathy Kolder.
Every Fry’s store had a unique theme. The Houston store, for example, paid tribute to Texas’ history in oil while the Sunnyvale store location detailed the unique history of Silicon Valley. The Burbank store was an all-out sci-fi battleground, complete with a massive flying saucer crashing through the storefront.
Though Fry’s was much smaller in size compared to some of the electronic giants in the industry, such as Best Buy, the store was iconic for many. Neil Saunders, GlobalData Retail’s managing director of consultancy, noted the legendary status that electronics consumers gave the store.
However, even prior to the pandemic, Best Buy, Target, and other large chain stores, had drained Fry’s of its larger customer base.
In a recent statement, Saunders responded to this chain store siphoning, noting that it “left the business increasingly reliant on its core electronics customers for sales. However, even here, more and more technology enthusiasts were buying computers and electrical components from online suppliers.”
The electronics retailer never worked to innovate or modernize operations online compared to some of its biggest competitors. On the other hand, Best Buy, Fry’s main competitor, reported that it had one of its best quarters in more than two decades due to at-home customers snapping up new home theater systems, laptops, kitchen appliances, and more.
Fry’s is now one of the many businesses to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Many Americans are still in quarantine, attempting to limit the spread of the worldwide virus. Just this past year, plenty of well-known companies had to file for bankruptcy at the height of the pandemic, including Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney, and Hertz.