Saturday, January 17, 2009

Someone Tripped the Circuit (CIty) Breaker

I was disappointed, but not surprised, to see that Circuit City is going out of business. They had already closed a few underperforming stores at the end of the year, but they couldn't find a buyer, so they pretty much ran out of options.

As noted here, being #2 in your retail category is usually a safe place, but that's not the case right now; other second-place holders such as Linens and Things and KB Toys have also fallen in recent months. At the first linked article, a former CEO stated that the likely causes of Circuit City's demise (besides the crappy economy) were that they "didn’t take the threat of rival Best Buy Co. seriously enough and, at some points, were too focused on making a profit in the short term instead of building long-term value."

I haven't shopped at Circuit City all that much in recent years, but they were good to me back in the day, offering my just-out-of-grad school self a line of credit to finance a car stereo when Best Buy all but laughed at me for applying. Though I've never bought a whole bunch of electronics during any given year, I also went to those stores when they had good deals on CD's, and, for a while, the Plano Circuit City had a decent jazz selection (the one here at Firewheel, however, did not do so well in that area; from looking at their CD aisle, you'd swear they must have read a demographic study saying that half the people in Garland spoke only Spanish). I also bought my washer and dryer from Circuit City, and they've lasted over 12 years now.

It's unfortunate that a lot of retailers are leaving the landscape right now; it would be better if Best Buy had more competition instead of less (because I haven't been all that impressed with them in recent years), and I hate to see all the big empty boxes that will be the result of Circuit City's demise (especially the hole it will leave in Firewheel, so soon after Linens and Things shuttered right around Christmas). Hopefully, once things turn around and people start buying things again, someone will find a creative use for all those boxes. (In terms of Firewheel--hey, Conn's, howdja like to come to Garland?)

In an earlier post on the subject, when it looked like Circuit City might weather the storm, I linked to a video of one of their early '90s commercials that featured the old "plug" building design. As a farewell of sorts, I'll post it here:

Gotta love the prices on the old computers, especially in proportion to their (lack of) power.

As I've mentioned before, I have a TV that dates to 1991. I don't have to worry about the upcoming DTV changeover, because I have cable, but that set is not going to last forever. I'll be watching the liquidation sale for the next few weeks to see if I can get a deal, but others have said that, so far, it's only 10% off, which is still not cheaper than Amazon, and perhaps that's a fitting epitaph for the company. Still, it's sad to see it go.

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