Fry’s Electronics is dead

How’s that for a spoiler of a headline?

After a day or two of rumors, a Bay Area TV news report last night confirmed that Fry’s Electronics, a mainstay of Silicon Valley electronics sourcing and more for almost 40 years, would cease operations today, February 24, 2021.

History of Silicon Valley Indeed: Is Fry’s Electronics Dying? | rsts11

Revisiting Fry’s Electronics a year later | rsts11

Fry’s confirmed this on their website early on Wednesday, February 24.

Many locals have seen the stores dry up, but there were still some goods they were useful for; I myself bought a few flash drives and SSDs for mining rigs and appliance builds earlier this months.

I’ve seen a few outlets declare that Fry’s fell to the pandemic, but people who’ve paid attention know this was not the core cause. The stores failed to adjust to competition, both local and online, over the past decade. Despite being the prime source of technology in the Bay Area for decades, they didn’t really keep up with the tech, internally or in the competitive environment.

The cascade through the consignment transition and then through the pandemic didn’t help, but there was a lot more going on long before COVID-19. A couple of friends joked that if they’d just sold toilet paper last year at this time, they would’ve been even more rich and weathered the storm, but like the failure to capitalize on the last two Black Friday sales opportunities, they missed the boat on perma-work-from-home.

Ironically, Micro Center, who are doing well in other parts of the country, failed in Silicon Valley around the turn of the century for similar reasons to Frys’s – failure to compete with what was at the time a very unique retail environment in the Bay Area. In today’s market, they might be able to make a comeback if they can find an affordable location (maybe the Fry’s building in Sunnyvale could be refitted with some windows and fewer ceiling leaks?).

For now, Silicon Valley denizens will have a choice of national websites like Amazon, Newegg, Zones, and the like; the local Best Buy stores; and Silicon Valley’s “other” local computer store, Central Computers (founded in Sunnyvale decades ago like Fry’s). For electric and electronic components, we still have options like Anchor Electronics (also a South Bay staple for around 40 years) and Excess Solutions (which has adjusted and expanded three times in the last 20 years or so).

For the past year or two, a trip to Fry’s for me has been an exercise in controlled disappointment, similar to vintage computer and car aficionados who might drive past the building where their favorite was invented, designed, built. Even more than before, I’d likely leave with nothing purchased, and the 64 empty registers would remain silent. Now they’ll be silent forever.

4 thoughts on “Fry’s Electronics is dead

  1. We all suffered as we witnessed the long and painful death of this huge retail giant. They should have closed down two years ago when they saw the writing on the wall, but instead let their stores void of merchandise and patrons all the while claiming they were making a comeback. You can’t say they died with any dignity. RIP Fry’s.

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    • I can’t disagree with this.
      Even if they’d cut the stores in half (like they did with Sunnyvale late last year), made more pragmatic noise about what they did have, and continued their livestreams (which were pretty good while they lasted), they might have kept a bit of relevance. But “This isn’t working, what happens if we keep doing it” was easier for them to try.

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      • Agreed. They needed scale down back into what they did best in the beginning and that was selling computer hardware for the DIY while selling snacks. I will really miss Frys. It’s an end to a bygone era just as the expansive orchards that once dominated the Silicon Valley. I have been living in NC for the last eight years and everytime I go back to visit something has changed. As they say you can never go back home.

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  2. Pingback: Thirty Days On The Front Lines: A return to tech support | rsts11 – Robert Novak on system administration

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