While I was getting ready for bed tonight, I was browsing through the news app on my iPad and one of the stories caught me by surprised and gutted me. Ars Technica reported that Fry’s Electronics was going to be closing immediately with no liquidated and no closing fanfare. The doors would just be locked and a California iconic chain would be gone.
I know that many may look at Fry’s Electronics as a relic of a bygone era, but the chain was a huge part of my growing up and how I got to where I am now. For the longest time, I would view see the ads on the back of the sports page every Thursday for this strange place that sold electronics. And in 1991, I finally got the nerve to take the trip down to Fountain Valley and I was floored when I walked through those doors. The ads did not do justice to the sheer volume of product available. CPU’s, video cars, cases, motherboards and so much more. I would see out and find reasons to go to Fry’s just to wander and find things I might want to buy. I can trace back so many items currently in my house to a Fry’s location.
And it wasn’t just the computer parts. As someone that loved his share of Coca Cola back in the days before I had way too many kidney stones, I would buy cases of the stuff from Fry’s. They would routinely have the stuff on crazy discount and we would load up on it. Myself and friends would go down there and each by the maximum allowed to each person so we could fuel our game nights. Going to the checkout was it own sweet hell as you were funneled down what many Fry’s regulars would call impulse alley. The store funneled you down this long aisle of odds, ends and tons of snacks. I could never make it to the end without grabbing at least one thing along the way. And once I had a kid, it just became a much bigger nightmare.
Throughout the years, I started to make a point of visiting Fry’s stores when I would find one in town. The Vegas one was nice with its big slot machine in back. Or the Jungle vibe that adorned the Manhattan Beach store. The Industry store had a mechanical gear theme which was cool. The store in Anaheim had a mock space shuttle inside along with other huge space themed items. I was actually kind of shocked when I went to the location in Tempe, AZ and found it to be so generic that I cannot even remember the theme.
Of course, with Internet shopping becoming far more normal, I found myself visiting Fry’s far less. It did not help that I moved to a place that made it more of a chore to get to a Fry’s location. Then I noticed that the store in Anaheim closed with little to no fanfare. Fry’s had always struggled with moving towards an Internet world. Its large volume footprint stores would be lined with lots of empty shelf space. I mean, for the longest time, its Internet home page did not sell merchandise from its store, but instead, a dial up Internet service. They only started selling merchandise after they bought online retailer Outpost.com.
And now, it seems the end has come and I am sad for it to have happened this way. The stores will close with little fanfare. There will be no closing sales. No last walk through the aisles. Just a part of my history with computer building, computer programming and video games, gone without much of a trace. Fry’s Electronics, you may have had the worst customer service and questionable selling tactics, but I loved you nevertheless and I will miss you. Thank you for making my 20’s so much fun.