Fry's Electronics has been a mostly West Coast-based shopping destination for gadget heads of all kinds, but now the retailer is calling it quits. On Twitter, Wario64 pointed out a tweet by a former employee and AV store owner noting that employees found out Tuesday night that it was the last night the stores would be open and that the website is going offline.
Bay Area newscaster KRON4 confirmed the rumors, saying nationwide closure information will appear on the company website Wednesday morning. Fry's was founded in 1985, and was known both for stocking whatever electronics parts you might need, and notoriously poor customer service. It was the sort of place where you could find a poorly-labeled Nokia N9, attend a midnight gaming launch and get scammed by a demo of the "Monster HDMI quality difference."
The company's West Coast stores were also themed to outlandish levels of detail, bringing sci-fi touches to one location, Aztec references to another, and even a NASA-themed Houston location that featured launch countdowns every hour. The number of locations had dropped in the last few years and even prior to the COVID pandemic shoppers noticed empty shelves and strange product choices that suggested Fry's wouldn't be in business much longer.
Update (5:10 AM ET): The Frys.com website has been updated with a goodbye saying it "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." While changes in the industry and the pandemic can't have helped things, the empty shelves, embezzlement and odd management decisions started long before that. The letter also doesn't mention Fry's past or present, but it does have some information for any customers still waiting on a repaired item.
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.
The Company ceased regular operations and began the wind-down process on February 24, 2021. 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.
The Company is in the process of reaching out to its customers with repairs and consignment vendors to help them understand what this will mean for them and the proposed next steps.