Fry’s Electronics announced the closure of its Campbell store, fueling concerns over the future of the beloved Silicon Valley computer hardware chain.
The San Jose company said on Twitter and its website Tuesday that it had closed the Campbell location permanently and would “repurpose this space in the near future.”
The closure takes place as the retail sector continues to struggle, its plight predating the pandemic but accelerated because of it. Standalone stores and mall locations faced declining foot traffic as online shopping took off, a trend that has only sped up under shelter-in-place. Like many other big-box retailers, Fry’s real estate, with stores ranging from 50,000 to 180,000 square feet, went from an advantage to a burden.
Fry’s closed its Palo Alto location in January and an Anaheim store in March. Its stores long held a special place in the Bay Area technology scene for their wide selection and their kitschy designs. The Campbell store had an Egyptian theme, while the Portage Avenue store in Palo Alto was “straight out of the old wild, wild west,” Fry’s wrote on its Facebook page.
Though it struggled with the same issues other retailers faced, Fry’s seemed to have particular problems that drew loyal customers’ attention.
For months, shoppers have shared photos and videos on social media of empty shelves and speculated that the chain may be headed for bankruptcy.
Fry’s did not respond to requests for comment. The city of Campbell’s website showed no permits filed for the location.
The company has denied that it’s facing financial trouble in the past, insisting that the empty shelves are because of its shift to a consignment model, in which suppliers get paid for goods only after a store has sold them. In early March, the company said it had made progress with the shift, saying it had 325 vendors signed up on consignment. The only jobs listed on the Fry’s website are for commission-based car stereo and mobile electronic sales.
Besides Best Buy, which has invested heavily in its website and delivery and service options, few computer chains like Fry’s are still in business. CompUSA, Circuit City and others are long gone.
General retailers like Target and Walmart now have electronics sections, and retail giant Amazon has a formidable electronics category.
Still, customers are sad to see Fry’s shrink the way it has.
Man Fry’s could totally do a “Geek Squad” sort of model so that they actually provide some kind of service to compete against online shopping like BestBuy has been doing and aren’t just quirky buildings and shelfs and fluorescent lights…
shame to see them fall apart
— Wunk! (@Wunkolo) November 10, 2020
Have you considered getting any inventory on your store shelves? That’s one way to bring customers in and avoid closings.
— PieMonster – Mark (@PieMonster777) November 10, 2020
Fry’s was founded in 1985 by brothers John, Randy and David Fry and business partner Kathy Kolder, whose LinkedIn profile now describes her as a “retired co-founder” of the business. It was the shop for anyone needing various types of computer hardware, carrying everything from motherboards to video games. The stores eventually expanded into kitchenware and office furniture, among other products.
With the Campbell closure, Fry’s now has 30 stores, 14 of which are in California. In the Bay Area, remaining stores are in Concord, Fremont, San Jose and Sunnyvale.