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The Gradual Death of the Brick and Mortar Tech Store

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the say-hello-to-the-dodo dept.

Businesses 491

Cutting_Crew writes "As we all know brick and mortar stores have been closing left and right recently. We had CompUSA, Borders and Circuit City all close their doors within the last 4 years. According to an article on Forbes.com, it is spelled out pretty clearly why Best Buy is next in line to shut its doors for good. Some of the reasons highlighted include a 40% drop is Best Buy stock in 2011, lack of vision regarding their online services, management too concerned with store sales instead of margins and blatant disregard for quality customer service."

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Thank god we still have Radio Shack (5, Informative)

n1ywb (555767) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990341)

Thank god we still have Radio Shack. I went in recently and found they were even selling arduinos. I've bought a bunch of components there for my electronics projects. It's not Fry's, but at least there's one 10 minutes away from my home in Nowhereville Vermont.

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990441)

My local radio shack.... I go through cycles of "boycotting" and going there. They have a high turnover rate. At times the employees are just terrible. I mean sell my a camera with no cords to it and charge me a 20% stocking fee when I take it back because I'm that annoyed.

Best Buy, similar thing. I only go there when I know what I want. On vacation they tried charging me $200 for repairs I was able to do myself after purchasing the tools I had left at home for $40. Of course, if you don't know what you are doing this could be a fair price. A month ago I went there to buy a new computer. I narrowed it down to one model, but I had a question. Tried getting an employee to help for half an hour. Then I spent a half-hour surfing on my smart phone for the information. It didn't help that during this surfing I was in ear-short of an employee being flirted to by a person who claimed to be an employee from another branch on their day off.

I don't have a local Fry's. I hear from people like you that they are great. However, Radioshack and Best Buy have been becoming increasingly terrible experiences with me. It is practically to the point I only go there if I know exactly what I want already and I don't want to mess with shipping.

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (5, Informative)

Pubstar (2525396) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990627)

Frys is good as long as: A) You know exactly what you want and B) You avoid the white sticker of doom. I went in, bought a Razer Lycosa keyboard from them. I kept getting phantom keystrokes from the keyboard. No problem, just update firmware? Didnt fix it. New drivers? Didn't fix it. Different computer? Didn't fix it. Okay, so the keyboard is obviously broken. After talking to someone at Razer, they told me that the keyboard was faulty and to return it instead of sending it to them for replacement. I get into Fry's, tell them its broken, and I watch them repack it, slap on a 5% discount sticker on it, and have someone go put it back on the shelf. Oh, and don't even get me started on how many DOA HDDs my dad and I bought from them that all had white stickers.

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (4, Funny)

Algae_94 (2017070) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990715)

Awesome quality control. Rather than waste their time confirming your diagnosis, they waste the next guy that buys its time.

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (5, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990794)

I've never seen this, and I return defective products to Fry's at least three or four times per year. If you tell them the item is defective, they put a sticker on it, but the sticker says "Return to vendor". They only stick the rebate sticker on it if you tell them you changed your mind about it. So either you weren't clear enough when you told them that it was defective, or you went to a Fry's store that is poorly run compared with my local store.

I'm dubious about returns because I worry about parts being missing, and I'm dubious about returned hard drives because I wonder if the previous customer dropped them, but for most things, the sticker of doom doesn't bother me too much. Usually it just means that I saved a couple of bucks.

That said, it may depend on the store. Which Fry's store was this?

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990691)

On vacation they tried charging me $200 for repairs I was able to do myself after purchasing the tools I had left at home for $40. Of course, if you don't know what you are doing this could be a fair price.

My sister tried charging me $20 for a hand job. I can do that myself for free!

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (2)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990747)

I like your sister already.

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (4, Funny)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990776)

Funny, she didn't charge me a thing.

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (5, Funny)

Sorthum (123064) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990445)

I've long thought that Radio Shack must be a front for the mob; there's no realistic way they could still be in business selling overpriced cell phones and inexpensive components to hobbyists...

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990774)

inexpensive WHAT?? Surely not components.

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (3, Insightful)

Sorthum (123064) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990820)

I really don't think that selling $3 packs of capacitors to hobbyists is sustainable in 2012...

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (5, Insightful)

twotacocombo (1529393) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990451)

Radio Shack these days is a shadow of it's former self. I went there with my dad as a kid, and remember shelves full of electrical and radio crap that I couldn't even comprehend. I went in there for the first time in ages about 3 years ago.. holy crap. It looked more like an AT&T store than the Radio Shack of old. People were lined up to pay their phone bills, and the walls were lined with cell phones and MP3 players and whatnot. Only in the back corner were any sort of electrical components, and nobody could really help me find what I was looking for. It's almost as if someone bought the Radio Shack name, and slapped it on a completely different store...

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (3, Interesting)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990541)

There is a franchise in Aus/NZ called Dick Smith. Same thing happened. Up until around 10 years ago they were an electronics store. 1/4 of the floor was components, 1/4 for audio, 1/4 for phones and 1/4 for computers.

Now its 1/4 cell phones, 1/2 computers and tvs, 1/5 audio and the last tiny section electronics.

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (3, Informative)

Danieljury3 (1809634) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990591)

Isn't 1/5 a bit generous. I went into one last year and the only electronics stuff they had was a soldering iron. I think at the time I was looking for some solder which they didn't have. Jaycar is the place to go for electronics stuff in Aus/NZ

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (1)

youngone (975102) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990603)

Yes, and all the knowledgable, friendly staff must have moved to Jaycar as well. The staff at Dick Smith are friendly enough, but they seem to know nothing.

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (2)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990645)

I needed about 30 meters of low voltage DC cable (figure 8) which my local Dick Smith had in stock.

Took 30 minutes to buy it. I couldn't see it anywhere and when I asked someone they pointed at the opposite side of the store.
After I went through isle by isle I found it between the printers and cordless phones. Once I had found it it was easy though.

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990655)

Unfortunately Jaycar doesn't seem to be doing so well. Us geeks need to pull out our wallets and start buying more electronics again.

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (5, Interesting)

n1ywb (555767) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990822)

I agree RatShack has gone downhill, and it's especially unfortunate that they no longer sell amateur radio gear. But I think it's actually been improving of late. They carry way more components than they used to and they finally took my advice and put them in drawers. They still have solder, RF adapters, antennas, some basic computer parts, kits, books, arduinos, basic stamps, 100 in 1 electronics sets (I've already bought one for my 2 year old, can't get 'em started too early!) Radio Shack is a hell of a lot better than nothing and let's hope this positive trend continues.

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990455)

Thank god we still have Radio Shack

I saw a Radio Shack a bit back in a mall - that was just filled with cell phones and cell phone accessories.

I also was at a big Fry's Electronics... they had some stuff, but it's not like you could just pick up some random resistor or even set of resistors.

For components, and arduino's etc., online is really your friend.

What I don't get, however, is the projection of Best Buy going away. Would that be in favor of Walmarts and the like? Because I can't imagine somebody buying a a big screen TV or even a laptop based solely on online descriptions (unless you're determined to get Apple gear in which case going to a store and poking at the laptop adds nothing to the decision-making process).
They might still buy them online to take advantage of lower pricing, of course..

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990752)

If you look around, you may find independent electronic stores that have resistors, capcitors, and other components. I haven't seen a large chain that carries that type of stuff since, well since Radio Shack went more towards consumer goods.

I think the real question of whether a product makes sense to sell in a brick and mortar store is "does this need a salesperson?". For resistors the answer is obviously "no". If you are looking for a resistor you need to know what resistance you need and a salesguy can't help you guess. Another important question is, "Will hands on experience help sell the product?". It's hard to think that the average Joe will want to buy a TV online without seeing the picture and getting a feel for the size of it.

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (1)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990824)

The other question is, Does this product cell in small quantities for a small price, which would cost 10x more to ship it? I hate buying a 25 cent component and paying 5 buck for shipping and "handling".

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (4, Interesting)

number11 (129686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990782)

What I don't get, however, is the projection of Best Buy going away. Would that be in favor of Walmarts and the like? Because I can't imagine somebody buying a a big screen TV or even a laptop based solely on online descriptions

They'll stay around a while for the TVs and refrigerators, you're not going to buy a refrigerator online (though the home improvement chains offer serious competition for appliance business). People will get their computers at places like MicroCenter, which gets the big box store stuff right, at least as it applies to computers.

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990491)

For a long time, Radio Shack was crap for everything other than RC trucks. RJ-45 jacks were $5 for a 2 pack... I usually buy a 50 pack for $5-$10. Lately I've seen a big increase in individual components at a competitive price - I stocked up on LEDs and switches last time I was there

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (4, Informative)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990573)

Thank god we still have Radio Shack. I went in recently and found they were even selling arduinos. I've bought a bunch of components there for my electronics projects. It's not Fry's, but at least there's one 10 minutes away from my home in Nowhereville Vermont.

Australia lost anything resembling radio shack years ago. Dick Smith Electronics was once a store where you could go in and buy capacitors, electronics kits (pre-arduino days) and just about anything else you need. Now days they sell phone plans, Norton AV and overpriced HDMI cables.

If I want electronics components I go online, especially if I dont want to pay a 400% mark up (this is not hyperbole, it's Australia).

But I figure this is the way all shops are going. Frontage is becoming less and less important with the advent of smart phones. An online business with a warehouse in an industrial district near the airport is just as competitive as a store-front in the CBD with millions walking past each day. If I see a PC component I want in a store, the first thing I'll do is look up prices on StaticIce to see how much cheaper it is if I order online. I dont think the traditional storefront is going to survive for too many more decades, rather we'll start to see kiosks attached to large automated warehouses (basically forklifts on rails). You buy what you want at the kiosk and it gets picked out and delivered to you shortly. We're already hallway there with Australian supermarkets providing an order online function and having that delivered to your house.

I think people are getting over the appeal of seeing a product and will happily give it up for some savings. Obviously this doesn't apply to all industries but to things we consider a chore like grocery shopping are the prime candidates.

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (3, Insightful)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990679)

Reality is that people don't need to build cool gadgets anymore. Cool gadgets are mainstream. And fixing digital circuit boards no longer requires colored resistors. You just toss it out and buy a new product.

Re:Thank god we still have Radio Shack (2)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990826)

And fixing digital circuit boards no longer requires colored resistors.

You are right, nowadays it only consist of changing busted capacitors... I never saw another defect in a modern electronic device. Sure my sample is small since I do this as a hobby but it must be one the most frequent sources of failures or I won at the sampling lottery...

Apple (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990343)

Yet Apple can't seem to open stores up fast enough. Go figure.

Re:Apple (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990395)

Because you can not go online and buy an apple product for 60% price of buying it in the store.
It is that apple control thing working for them.

Re:Apple (0)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990483)

Yet Apple can't seem to open stores up fast enough. Go figure.

That's because you have to have a modicum of intelligence and financial acumen to have the good sense to buy online.

Re:Apple (4, Insightful)

greg1104 (461138) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990762)

TFA talks about loss of control over margins at Best Buy. Apple Stores are known to have some of the highest margins in retail [seekingalpha.com] . Their success demonstrate that people are willing to pay high margins for products if they feel they're getting good service for it--which is certainly not the Best Buy experience.

Also, it's rarely the case that there is a large advantage to purchasing an Apple product outside of their stores, due to their extensive price controls at all retailers. As you can also see from that chart, Apple makes an ever higher margin for the products they sell online. They could adjust their price to match the lower overhead and sell them cheaper direct. The fact that they don't is an interesting component to their overall strategy.

Re:Apple (4, Insightful)

atriusofbricia (686672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990832)

Yet Apple can't seem to open stores up fast enough. Go figure.

That's because Apple stores are not electronics stores. They're fashion stores that happen to sell electronics.

Forgot to add older stores (2)

xQuarkDS9x (646166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990351)

Older stores in the 1990's like Computer City that was active in the USA and even Canada for awhile. I had worked at Computer City in Coquitlam, British Columbia from 1997 to 1998 and it was a very sad day to see the store close down and this was even before the internet and online sales really took off.

Re:Forgot to add older stores (4, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990409)

Margins are very low on electronics. You had to move a lot of product to keep a brick and mortar electronics store afloat even before the Internet and Walmart became such huge competitors. Quite frankly I rarely go into them any more. I find even taking shipping into account that I can find better deals online. I haven't bought an actual computer from a brick and mortar store in seven or eight years.

Re:Forgot to add older stores (3, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990503)

They're nice for when you need it NOW. A few times I've had a fan, PSU or video card die and for one reason or another, I couldn't wait for 3 day shipping (2 day and overnight shipping usually costs twice as much as the component is worth) so I headed down to Best Buy or Circuit City and grabbed it.

Re:Forgot to add older stores (2)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990511)

Now that you mention it, I haven't bought a computer from a brick and mortar store in over 10 years. Then again, I've never been able to buy one off the shelf, or willing to pay 300 bucks for a 50 dollar ram upgrade, so I have always bought the box from one company, and the upgrades from several others. Online since before 2000. I get better service from a website than any electronics store I have ever been in.

Re:Forgot to add older stores (2)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990751)

Now that you mention it, I haven't bought a computer from a brick and mortar store in over 10 years. Then again, I've never been able to buy one off the shelf, or willing to pay 300 bucks for a 50 dollar ram upgrade, so I have always bought the box from one company, and the upgrades from several others. Online since before 2000. I get better service from a website than any electronics store I have ever been in.

I'm the exact opposite, there are just some things I like to hold in my hands, feel and test-drive before I buy them. These are things like mobile phone cases, computer mice, keyboards, tablet computers, laptops... the list goes on. Half the time photographic coverage of an item on a webstore isn't good enough or you simply can't tell what you want to know from a photo. There is nothing more annoying than, say... buying a laptop computer online and finding out afterwards that you can't stand the keyboard layout or buying a Galaxy Tab and finding out after you bought it that every time you rotate the thing you accidentally press the capacitive buttons on the sides of the monitor, dunno about you but that drove me nuts. A tour of the local retail stores can save you quite a bit of hassle.

Microcenter? (5, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990533)

Ummm.... doesn't Microcenter [microcenter.com] count? Guess not according to Forbes, because in 2006 they had 19 stores, [archive.org] 20 in 2007, [archive.org] 21 in 2008, [archive.org] and in 2012 Microcenter has 23 stores. [microcenter.com] Sure that's slow growth, but still growth none-the-less, and they're much better than CompUSA, Circuit City (is Circuit City "tech"?) and Best Buy because Microcenter actually has competitive prices.

Want a new MSI Geforce GTX 580 video card? $500 from Newegg, [newegg.com] $520 from Microcenter. [microcenter.com] Think I'd just pay that extra 4% to have the card TODAY and have a local shop to return/exchange it to if there's a problem and judging from the 13% 1-egg reviews I'd there is a good risk there could be a problem.

Re:Microcenter? (5, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990601)

Need a drive in a hurry? 2tb for $130 at Microcenter, [microcenter.com] same price as Newegg. [newegg.com] Gee, do I wanna wait a week or have the drive in my PC this afternoon? Decisions, decisions.... oh Newegg wants $7.86 shipping? Microcenter it is!

But I guess if the Forbes reporter included Microcenter that would have gone against his 5-page theory generating god knows how many banner ads. Best we just forget Microcenter exists so Forbes can make a few extra $$$ off ads. Selling out journalistic honesty to make a few bucks? You betcha!

Re:Microcenter? (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990653)

I have to agree. Their prices are mostly competitive, they even have deals that can compete with eBay -- say, refurbed white intel macbooks. You can always get a lemon, but with eBay you can never be sure how easy the return and refund is going to be.

Re:Microcenter? (1)

masshuu (1260516) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990703)

anytime I walk into Frys here, they (try to) hand me a paper guaranteeing their price is the same or lower than newegg or amazon.

Re:Microcenter? (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990838)

Sales tax here adds on $8.13. So Newegg is cheaper (granted, not by much, but still)

Re:Microcenter? (5, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990643)

Ummm.... doesn't Microcenter count? Guess not according to Forbes, because in 2006 they had 19 stores, 20 in 2007, 21 in 2008, and in 2012 Microcenter has 23 stores. Sure that's slow growth, but still growth none-the-less, and they're much better than CompUSA, Circuit City (is Circuit City "tech"?) and Best Buy because Microcenter actually has competitive prices.

They also tend to have stuff in stock, and for many items (printers, monitors) working items you can examine. Why would you go to a store when you could order online for much less? Three good reasons
1) You want it now
2) Shipping cost overwhelms the price difference
3) You'd like to take a look at it before buying it

But most brick and mortar retailers mess up _all three_. They won't carry much and what they carry they won't keep in stock, so you have a good chance of not finding what you want. For things where shipping cost is significant (e.g. cables), they'll carry only ridiculously-priced brands so they're STILL more expensive than ordering online + shipping (even for one lousy cable). And if they have any samples out, they're often obviously broken, and usually not actually working.

Re:Microcenter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990689)

Thumbs up for Microcenter. Good bundles, selection, and prices. I used to live across the street from one in St. David's, PA. I nearly spent all of my pay there.

Re:Microcenter? (2)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990780)

Yes, I really don't see it as the death of brick and mortar stores, but a consolidation. We need good tech stores. We don't need office supply stores trying to be tech stores.

Re:Microcenter? (1)

briniel (916290) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990786)

I drive past at least 3 Best Buys driving to Microcenter. Always a good experience.

frys (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990363)

i miss living in texas with a frys a mile away, pittsburgh might be the city of champions but finding any decent computer components Today is nearly impossible.

brick and mortar tech stores are doing great!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990365)

just look at the apple stores, the sales success is off the charts. brick and mortar is not dead, but yes one needs to offer something "more" in a brock and mortar store to win the consumer over from an e-tailer. The traditional players have just not figured out that change properly. in fact Amazon is now testing brick and mortar stores!

Not Best Buy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990379)

If they close, where will I go to look at stuff I want to buy on Newegg later?

Stock Price is an Effect, not a Cause (3, Insightful)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990385)

I thought this looked familiar...this article was published on the Forbes web site on January 2nd. It's also a bit ranty rather than well-researched, though there's no doubt that Best Buy is not doing well.

Cutting_Crew...because Best Buy is doing poorly, its stock is down 40%. Its stock price is not one of "the reasons highlighted" for why it's doing poorly. Stock price is an effect, not a cause.

On a related note...is Fry's having problems?

Re:Stock Price is an Effect, not a Cause (2)

Sorthum (123064) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990489)

Well, one of their VPs embezzled $65 million from them back in 2008, so they could probably be better...

try to think like a Forbes reader (4, Insightful)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990611)

you are probably a hedge fund guy, or friends with a hedge fund guy, or some other type of person who makes money by buying and selling big chunks of other people.

you see a story about an electronics retailer.

they see a story about an opportunity to short sell or buy credit default swaps against a company's debt. imagine if you are sitting at a poker table and instead of chips you are playing with coins that each say '1 million dollars'. you can start to get an inkling of the mindset here. you dont care if the other people at the table are nurses, waiters, hairdressers, authors, poets, politicians, soldiers, etc. all you care about is what is in their hand, and which way the game is going to go, because you can get rich off of it, but more importantly, you can get the high you get from winning. thats what the "their stock price is down" thing means. it doesnt pretend to have any intelligent commentary on cause and effect. its poker information for poker players.

I used to work for best buy (5, Insightful)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990391)

They have no concept of the competition that Amazon represents. They think in store purchases will keep them alive. They need to:
1. Fire half the staff, and only hire professional sales people (Not 30 seventeen year olds)
2. Reduce the store size by half or more.
3. Reduce prices by having less selection but enjoy the bulk purchase price point.
4. Stop high pressure pushing of accessories and service plans on people.
5. Work with vendors to have exclusive items made for them not found online (like a white or pink dyson)
Still doomed by their horrible reputation.

Re:I used to work for best buy (5, Insightful)

wanzeo (1800058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990523)

As someone who has spent time as an electronics sales rep, I say good riddance.

I was always as honest and informative as I could be (much more so than my coworkers), but you really can't give meaningful advice in a 10 minute sales pitch. Half of the people are coming cold to the technology, they are not going to be educated in time to make a good decision. The other half have made up their minds because of marketing, and nothing you say will convince them otherwise. And then add to that the fact that most technology purchasing is rather subjective. Just look at the heated discussions on any tech website about which products are the right choice, they go on for pages and pages. And that is between people who are already very well informed about the basic principles.

Spending a few hours reading user reviews on amazon or newegg, and being able to google unfamiliar terms, is more valuable than the most tech savy and personable sales rep. And because most sales reps are subpar, internet shopping wins by a landslide.

Re:I used to work for best buy (1)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990545)

never mind that most of their profit comes from Monster Cables

Re:I used to work for best buy (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990563)

4. Stop high pressure pushing of accessories and service plans on people.

That is sometimes the only products they sell with any significant profit margin.

Re:I used to work for best buy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990675)

For the love of all that is holy,

4. Stop high pressure pushing of accessories and service plans on people.

I could not agree with you more. And the more you argue that you don't want or need it, the more they try to make you feel guilty for not having purchased an extended service plan, not to mention they're going to ask you more than once, first by the geek on the floor, the next by the girl at the register. Which brings us to....

1. Fire half the staff, and only hire professional sales people (Not 30 seventeen year olds)

Half the reason I don't even bother going in there is so I can avoid having to remind half of the staff that, no, I don't need help and that, and yes, I heard you tell the other three people nearby, who also told you no, that you don't work on commision and that if I really need help I can hunt down anyone wearing those nifty blue shirts. Nothing makes me feel less like the intelligent human that I am than spending 10 minutes in a Best Buy store. I don't need an army of blue shirts to shepherd me around the store and small contingent of yellow shirts watching over my shoulder to make sure I don't steal anything. Thanks, guys, but I walk into the store carrying about $20,000 worth of purchasing power and sufficient knowledge to ease my purchase of that $20 USB drive.

/rant

Re:I used to work for best buy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990693)

What about stock?
What's killing the brick and mortar stores, it's the stock. To sell something you need to have it on stock, when it doesn't sell anymore you need to send it back to the maker. For one store it doesn't seem like much, but couple that with a whole chain, and you get a lot of money in useless stuff.

So, why should I go to a store where you get to see old stuff at old prices?

Well, for one thing, human interaction. You hit the nail on the head, hire specialists, people that go to mortar & brick store also need advice. Good advice, not sell-your-shit-fast advice. Then there's the service part, I really won't go near that one.
Then there's shipping, no matter where you are, ordering online will take some time, going to a shop, could be from a few minutes to just a few hours.

I could probably say more, but those are the thorniest problems. I started ordering everything online, after I got tired of their stupidity.

Re:I used to work for best buy (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990697)

I agree with you except for #2 and #3. Those are the exact opposite of what they should do. The biggest thing that drives me to buy stuff online is lack of selection at local stores.

When it comes to buying expensive electronics, I spend the time to research and figure out what I want ahead of time, and then I look online to see what local stores have the product I chose. If none of them do, I order online.

When it comes to cheaper stuff (under $50), I usually go to Fry's, in part because their prices tend to be better than most other stores, but largely because they have a much broader selection than any other store, and it pisses me off to have to go to two or three stores just to find a $5 cable. If they don't have something that meets my needs, my next stop is usually Amazon, because if Fry's doesn't have it, odds are good that nobody else will have it locally.

The problem is, when I have to order online, it is usually because they didn't have one small part of a much larger order. If I have to wait a week to get some of the parts for a project, I might as well wait for all of them. This means that whenever Fry's does not have one item, they typically lose the sale of five or six more, on average. Thus, having a broad selection is the only thing preventing them from being completely overtaken by Amazon and other online retailers.

To put it in perspective, the smallest Fry's store I've ever been in was at least three times the size of the largest Best Buy store I've ever been in. This is why they are a decent place to buy electronics and Best Buy sucks. You cannot have adequate selection of electronics in a store the size of Best Buy. Making it smaller and further reducing the selection can only make it less likely that I'll find what I'm looking for, and thus more likely that I'll eventually stop bothering to try that store at all (and, frankly, BB is already too small for me to bother with it).

Soon it'll be Fry's or nothing (1)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990399)

I have my doubts about the long-term viability of Radio Shack; they're too small to carry much, they compete with with dedicated cellular carrier stores on phones and plans, and tend to be full retail pricing on everything. So that leaves Fry's or nobody.

Re:Soon it'll be Fry's or nothing (1)

wmelnick (411371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990405)

Perhaps on the West coast. Here on the East Coast it will be Microcenter.

Re:Soon it'll be Fry's or nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990535)

As was already mentioned, CUSTOMER SERVICE is what brought down those stores. Well, I never considered Barnes and Noble a tech store, but they had better customer service.

Radio Shack, now called, "The Shack," and formerly called, "Ham Radio Shack," has enough outlets that anyone can get to one easily. True, they seem to carry less, and lots of stuff has to be ordered online anyway, but they often have something I can use. And the staff attempts to be helpful, although sometimes I find stuff faster than the staff.

I find MicroCenter excellent for a tech store around these parts...but the closest is over a half hour drive. Some good prices, some bad, so you have to know what you're looking for. price matching helps. Staff is hit or miss...some are superb. Some aren't. It can vary by store and by person. But if you are persistent, you can find out what you need.

When I went to a Fry's, I felt like I had gone to heaven...but then I started asking computer questions, and their salespeople didn't always tell the truth, whether or not they knew it..

Re:Soon it'll be Fry's or nothing (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990695)

Radio Shack has many different cell phone carriers, and they're the same price as the single-carrier stores. If you don't know what you want/need, Radio Shack is the best place to get cell phones, bar none.

Re:Soon it'll be Fry's or nothing (1)

wkk2 (808881) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990707)

I wonder about Fry's too. Our local store hasn't restocked surface mount resistors in months. Nothing like paying for over night delivery to get a badly needed 470 ohm resistor just because the peg is empty.

which class will you be? thief, warrior, mage? (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990403)

"A few days ago, I visited a Best Buy store in Pinole, CA with a friend. He’s a devoted consumer electronics and media shopper, "

oh yes, i forgot, the 'devoted consumer electronics shopper'.

They've got longer than that (3, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990413)

Brick & Mortar will still serve a purpose for a while yet. There will always be times when you need some widget that day, and no amount of money will solve that problem through Amazon. It might not be Best Buy, but it certainly won't be WalMart either; we will have a large nationwide chain carrying electronics for people who need something now and don't mind paying a little more for it than they would online.

That said the complaints listed in the (over 1 month old) article are very similar to what was happening at CompUSA when they were in their death spiral; young kids were being hired with no knowledge of anything, and corporate suits with decision making power were being promoted who knew even less.

Re:They've got longer than that (4, Insightful)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990639)

I think people will pay a little more if they have a better experience. Stores have forgotten that, and like the failure of all those who tried to compete with Wal Mart on price, they lost. Retailers can't compete on price with the online retailers, even with sales tax (which is a nightmare of logistical nonsense just waiting in the wings)..

Retailers need to stop focusing on price and margins and wonder if there is still such a thing as customer loyalty. I don't know if there is, but companies like Best Buy don't seem to give a shit about trying. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work... but for fuck's sake, how can these companies make the SAME EXACT mistakes that their dead competitors make and expect to come out on top, or even alive for that matter? It's like watching monkeys throw shit at each other. It's funny, but you don't want to get any on you.

Long live Amazon (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990415)

Seriously there is no need anything other than Amazon. Oh and Newegg can go fuck itself. Too many bad experiences with that hellhole.

Why should I buy stuff from Best Buy? (4, Insightful)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990427)

When there's Newegg? I mean, honestly: $25 USB cables and re-boxed returns vs easy return, no tax and better prices (even including shipping).

Re:Why should I buy stuff from Best Buy? (5, Insightful)

Sorthum (123064) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990497)

The sole reason to go to a BestBuy is "I need this item today." That's about it.

Re:Why should I buy stuff from Best Buy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990635)

When I "need" something it's always right now.
When I "want" something it can wait.

I live in Midtown Manhattan and we lost Comp a few years ago, Best Buy or Radio Shack is about the only thing left unless your into those tourist traps of a an electronic store or I go downtown to J&R which still maintains that custom overpriced, I need now item and that too is dying.

Computer's aren't sexy anymore or unique and nobody rushes out to by a "part" unless it's your thing or it's in an all white store with too many employees and 4 products displayed by the 1000's as art.

If it isn't a clothing store, food, a bank or a bank or a bank, or another bank then it's pretty much died and gone to something like Walmart years ago anyway.

Re:Why should I buy stuff from Best Buy? (3, Insightful)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990727)

And Best Buy needs to consider that. Drop its online prices. Up its in-store service and knowledge. Work to maintain its employees for more than 6 months. Hire people at reasonable salaries, train them regularly, don't mess with their schedules without telling them. As it stands now, most of the employees in Best Buy are high school kids who stand around and chat with each other, don't know the answer to your questions, and will be gone in 3 months. This is no way to sustain a business where knowledge is useful. Let the transitive staff wait tables. Hire real employees and pay them real money and treat them like real company employees.

The only problem with Best Buy is that management doesn't see the company's role in the new age. And since they're lost, they feel their company is lost, so they treat all their employees like a 4 year old's goldfish.

Re:Why should I buy stuff from Best Buy? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990507)

The convenience of being able to just drive to the store and pick it up at the time that you determine you need it.

Not that I'm saying there's anything wrong with online shopping... just saying that brick-and-mortar still has at least one distinct advantage, until we invent star-trek style transporters that can just beam the stuff directly to your computer within mere hours or possibly even minutes of you completing your order.

Re:Why should I buy stuff from Best Buy? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990571)

With most online stores you can go to the storage building and pick the stuff up just the same. There are also stores where you can order something in the morning and pick it up at 6pm the same day.

Re:Why should I buy stuff from Best Buy? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990683)

I thought this was obvious, but I was actually comparing brick-and-mortar to online shopping in general, and not simply ordering online from a physical store or storage facility that is obviously already local.

Re:Why should I buy stuff from Best Buy? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990579)

My solution to that is:

1. Plan ahead.

2. Maintain a stock of cables in my garage.

I find the convenience of walking the 20 feet from my family room to my garage to be way better than the convenience factor of driving to a Best Buy and dealing with their ridiculous prices.

Re:Why should I buy stuff from Best Buy? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990669)

How convenient for you to be perfect, and never make mistakes about what is going to happen.

Re:Why should I buy stuff from Best Buy? (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990613)

$25 USB cables

Wow. Was that a typo? My local independent computer retailer sells most USB cables for $5-$10.

Re:Why should I buy stuff from Best Buy? (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990729)

A 3' USB 2 cable costs $2.02 at Digi-Key [digikey.com] (stock# Q361-ND), qty 1. With USPS shipping it'll still be less than $10 total ;)

If you're buying something that's a generic electronic component/assembly, you don't go to a computer store, you go to an electronics distributor.

CompUSA closed? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990457)

Since when did CompUSA close? I was just in a CompUSA YESTERDAY. Granted the sign on the road changed to Tigerdirect.com, but the building is still CompUSA. I honestly didnt know they had ever closed anything.

Re:CompUSA closed? (1)

dak664 (1992350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990649)

Tigerdirect parent Systemax bought some compusa stores after their bankrupcy and are most likely monitoring the response to the alternate branding. Compusa became a nerds hell a decade ago, Tigerdirect was a change for the good, but is regressing to purgatory in the store I am familiar with. At least their web site seems sync'd with the retail stores.

Re:CompUSA closed? (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990681)

We have a CompUSA near my home. It's not the same CompUSA that existed in the 90's. TigerDirect merely slapped the CompUSA name on their retail stores. It's a very different place now.

Because they're not a tech store (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990463)

They sell TV's, car stereos, washing machines and video games.

Re:Because they're not a tech store (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990561)

Don't forget the $100 Monster HDMI cables.

Well, this is ironic.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990471)

I thought that in Canada, Futureshop stores were being gradually phased out in favor of Best Buy, who now owns the former chain.

bad business models (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990493)

Obviously the way they did business didn't sit right with the existing market, or they didn't change as the market changed.
In other news, Microcenter is doing quite well in my area, and they sell the same things as Best Buy does and Circuit City used to(if not better), sans the dishwashers and car accessories. The people there are also very knowledgeable and aren't constantly blazed, at least if they are they still know what they're talking about.

I never understood how they stayed in business.... (3)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990505)

With consistently higher prices and terrible customer service policies, I can't imagine how Best Buy has stayed in business as long as they have. There's a reason I've always called them "Worst Buy". They usually are.

To give you an idea of their customer service, I priced a product online with Google, and it told me that Best Buy had it for a great price. I went there, and found that they had just raised their price by nearly a hundred bucks. I knew this because they had a recently returned unit available for less than their previous price. I bought the returned unit.

Unfortunately, it was defective (flaky HDMI output). At most stores, when a product is DOA, you can go in and they'll swap it out with a working one. Not at Best Buy. Because they didn't have any more customer-returned products from when the price was lower, my only option (at their store) was to pay an extra $120 to get a working product.

I pointed out that their new, higher price was about thirty or forty dollars higher than Fry's, just two blocks away, and over a hundred dollars higher than Amazon. Needless to say, I opted for a refund.

I then drove to Fry's. They matched Amazon's price, so I ended up getting it for almost exactly what Best Buy had been charging two weeks earlier.

Why anyone ever darkens the door of Best Buy is beyond me. I could see buying stuff like DVDs from Best Buy online (where you can price compare easily), but just walking into the store, your odds of getting even an acceptable deal are right up there with winning the lottery.

I find best buy to be frustrating (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990515)

The closest one to me is a good 40 min away, and when you get there its almost a circus of disorganization. Example when you walk into our location theres geek squad, and some networking on the first isle, then pens and paper and post-it notes, then printers, then celphone accessories, then laptops then camera accessories, oh then celphones, then laptop accessories and on and on until your in the back of the store looking for the power supply you went there for in the first place they are out ... even though their website says in stock in that store.

so while you are somewhat forced to check every fucking isle cause they are now interweaving departments, that way you wont miss some stupid gadget you dont want, you cant find anyone to answer a simple question cause all 3 of them are busy upselling the newest HP laptop and your wasting your time cause these people wouldn't know what they have in stock even if they were paid to.

Hm sounds just like compUSA doesnt it?

The only reason I ever go in there anymore is because once in a while you can find a openbox or floor model deal, which is why I have a stainless steel microwave that only cost 35 bucks, but its at the very bottom of my list to even consider when I am out to get something specific.

But where can I look at a TV before I buy? (1)

Meatbucket (2039104) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990549)

Some things you have to see, touch and/or hear before you buy, I can't imagine it all going away. Plus there's nothing like instant gratification of buying something as opposed to waiting a week or two for it too arrive.

Reviews work for me... (1)

rwade (131726) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990629)

For what it's worth, I have never been disappointed by anything -- electronic, clothes, home goods, whatever -- that I bought from Amazon that has more than 10 reviews and 4+ stars. And when you look at TVs on Amazon, you don't have to rely on 10 reviews -- most [amazon.com] TVs [amazon.com] have hundreds of reviews to rely on.

Good riddance. (3, Informative)

Higgins_Boson (2569429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990663)

Best Buy is a horrible, horrible place. Those stores are typically overpriced, asshole-filled warehouses with a stench I can only guess is dead animals hidden in the car audio department. Lump all that in with morons on the sales team and even bigger morons in management and you have the reason this place will not be missed by most people.

If you are a Best Buy idiot (read: employee), I apologize for offending you... but you deserve it. Last time I went to a Best Buy was to buy a family member a flat-screen LCD television. I asked for help from no less than 5 people before someone ACTUALLY came back "in a couple of minutes" as promised repeatedly. It was a mistake, especially since the same set was $70 cheaper online. Too bad it was too close to Christmas at the time to bother ordering it online.

Good riddance, assholes.

P.S.
I am sure this will be modded flamebait or troll or whatever... I simply do not care. Especially since those titles (flamer and troll) are used to say "I disagree with you" these days, instead of what they are really meant for. Which is to label someone who actually IS trolling.

Microcenter and Frys seem to do well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990667)

I am in Denver. The Microcenter, in my area, seems to be packed all the time.

When I want to Illinois, last October, the Frys there also seemed to be doing a lot of business.

Thought I'd mention Staples. (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990673)

Every time I go into a Staples they have more and more computer stuff. They seem to be doing ok.

What about Apple? (2)

diamondmagic (877411) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990705)

The Apple Store should disprove this, though: At $4,032 per square foot per year, the NYC Apple Store is the most profitable retail store per square foot in the world, period.

I can think of one retailer bucking the trend. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990739)

The most successful consumer electronics brick and mortar retailer--and anyone who thinks about this for a few minutes can figure it out-- is still rapidly expanding all over the world and making record profit margins. *shrugs*

It's not that consumers don't like retail, it's that they don't like the old and busted retail model. Adapt or die.

blatant disregard for quality customer service (1)

Jerry (6400) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990741)

That's putting it politely.

Warranties, anyone? (1)

liquidhokie (2044274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990754)

None of Amazon, Newegg, Ebay, or even [gasp] Tiger Direct has ever annoyed the @#$%^ out of me for a useless warranty.

Why I go to RadioShack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990766)

I actually ran up to RadioShack today to pickup a CMOS battery for a computer repair today. I needed a known good battery. I didn't have to wait days (NewEgg) just for a $4 battery. While I was there I love just looking around. They have a lot of great stuff for DIY projects. Wish they stocked a ton more electronic components. I think RadioShack could really capitalize on offering DIY projects along with the materials to make them. Check out Instructables lately? Most of that stuff needs a RadioShack kind of place. RadioShack does serve a purpose and they never got to big for their britches like Best Buy and Circuit City. They have a small footprint which is smart. The only thing I hate about them is their retarded name change. GJ on destroying a huge brand name.

don't. forget microcenter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38990812)

That place is a shit show, if one more sales guy tries to sticker my stuff I am gonna donky kick him. You should not have commission based sales people in a tech store like that. They are assholes.

Tech Stores Long Gone (1)

sk999 (846068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38990814)

Let us not forget that mail-order catalogs were yesterday's equivalent of today's Amazon and Newegg, and competition between them and brick and mortar stores is nothing new.

I used to be on the mailing list for both Allied Radio and Lafayette - bought stuff from both. Lafayette even had it's store in Newark, NJ. All long gone. Allied Radio was merged into Radio Shack. (Allied Electronics - the industrial supply side of the business - apparently still exists.)

Heath (remember Heathkits?) had a store in California. Gone.

Tons of independent shops selling stereo gear, TVs. My favorite independent shop was called "Parts Unlimited" - nothing but caps, resistors, vacuum tubes, wire, solder, connectors, coax cable, hardware, etc. All gone.

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