Fry’s Electronics used to be where local PC builders scanned the full-page newspaper ads at the entrance and went inside to buy parts. None of the big tech YouTubers that I follow had anything to say about Fry’s going out of business in recent months. That changed when Kyle and Heather of Bitwit drove over to the Fry’s Burbank store to check out what viewers have been telling them for months. They made the shocking discovery that the rumors were all true. Not just at the Burbank store but also the Las Vegas store.
Before we deep dive into what Mr. and Mrs. Bitwit’s misadventures at Fry’s Electronics, I want to cover a news story that took place after my previous Fry’s video and before their misadventure last month.
Charles Fry, founder of Fry’s Supermarket and the father of Fry’s Electronics founders, John, Randy and David, passed away at the age of 92 on Monday, January 20, 2020. If that date sounded familiar, it was the day that Fry’s Electronics as a chain was to shut down according to reporters who didn’t double check their facts. No one could have predicted that it was Charles Fry who would shut down that day.
When big tech YouTubers mention Fry’s Electronics in their videos, it’s almost always in passing reference with Micro Center. Some viewers are more likely to live near a Fry’s than a Micro Center. If the Micro Center store in Silicon Valley was still open, I would be going there all the time. That store closed eight years ago when the landlord tried to double or triple the rent. These days I buy all my PC parts from Amazon and Newegg.
After hearing abut Fry’s Electronics for months from their viewers, Kyle and Heather drove out of their way to visit the Burbank store. What did they discover? Empty parking lots, barren shelves and few customers.
Kyle applied the same test that I asked at my local store. Were there enough parts to build a PC? Uh, no. Can you buy a pre-built PC? Oh, hell no.
A store employee did the dog-and-pony show about how the chain was still switching distributors. But he also mentioned that some inventory went to the Las Vegas store to make it appear full for CES 2020. What did our daring couple do? They hopped on an airplane and rented a car to visit the Las Vegas store.
Their first impressions when walking into the Las Vegas store that it was full of inventory and looked bright with all the lights turned on. Heather, however, had the brilliant insight that larger items occupied the shelves to appear more fuller and not because there were more items available. I saw that at the Campbell store on Black Friday, turning it into a dollar store that had less of a selection than a real dollar store. Not surprisingly, the Las Vegas store didn’t have enough parts to build a PC and forget about buying a pre-built PC.