I’ve seen this coming for a couple years, with the empty shelves, and going to a consignment business model. I don’t think it would have survived anyway, but the pandemic was the last nail in the coffin. It’s the end of an era.

[Thursday-afternoon update]

Bryan Preston remembers Fry’s. Our Fry’s was Tahitian themed. It was probably also the smallest store in the chain, perhaps because of real-estate prices in Manhattan Beach. It never carried appliances. If I wanted to have more selection, I had to drive to the ones in Commerce, Canoga Park, or Fountain Valley.


10 thoughts on “Fry’s”

  1. There is only so much incredibly bad customer service a customer will stand, especially when the same products are available at the same or lower prices, elsewhere.

    And when you buy a product from (say) Amazon, it’s likely not already been registered to another customer, or already failed the smoke test.

    I kind of figured they were getting to the bottom of the bowl when the parking lots started filling with trash

    1. I’ve heard those stories for years, but until the decline started ramping up and the stock levels in store kept going down, down, down, I never experienced any of it at any of the 4 Dallas-area stores.

  2. I used to love Frys in Phoenix. I bought a lot of stuff there, even though it’s well over 100 miles from me.

    It was great for computer components. I built quite a few systems that way.

    A few years ago, I noticed changes. Their main computer department became utter crap. For one, I started seeing reboxed items (not listed as such). Worse was their department for systems; the last time I was in, they literally had NOTHING that didn’t come pre-installed with windows 10. It was the same generic garbage as anywhere else.

    Same as with most of the store; it was going downhill fast. Loads of empty shelves. Last time I was in, I couldn’t even get a case fan, or canned air, or one of their own branded large mouse mats.

    I’ll miss what Frys used to be.

  3. I guess the theming started after I left Sunnyvale area in the mid-90s. Used to visit the store on Lawrence Expressway. Wasn’t that the first one, or was it the one in Fremont?

    On the other side of Lawrence was a computer-oriented bookstore- Computer Literacy. Pre-Amazon, it was a place to visit every few weeks, just because.

    (Then again, when I lived in Sacramento, I used to frequent a computer shop whose owner was one of Prof. Kaczynski’s victims. Didn’t find out why it suddenly closed until years later.)

  4. Never experienced a “themed” store in Texas, but our last visit in Dallas just before Christmas and Houston last year, the shelves were empty of everything except junk, and we realized they were just counting the days.

    I will miss it, but as written above, it was a child of the consumer electronics boom. No place for it today.

    1. Eric, the Dallas store had a pretty obvious theme, but the other 3 Dallas-area stores didn’t.

      I made it to the Webster, Houston one, a few months ago, which was ISS-themed. Got a few pictures on my cell phone. The store was nearly empty at that point, and I wish I’d seen it before it got like that, but at least I did get to before it closed.

      1. Were the three non-themed stores ex-Incredible Universe stores? I know the one in Arlington was (I think we ended up going there at the Incredible Universe grand opening; it was the first of the ill-fated chain). But we left Texas as IU was shutting down and selling to Fry’s but before the Arlington store was reopened.

        The Fry’s in San Diego was also an ex-IU, but the other San-Diego-area store, in San Marcos, was built from scratch as an Atlantis theme, with some cool and very large aquarium tanks, and two very large Jacob’s ladders out front. But from the beginning, it had the trademark I-really-don’t-want-to-help-you customer service. But I always knew exactly what I was there for so I didn’t really care. Haven’t been in a Fry’s in 3+ years, won’t really miss it.

  5. Never been to a Frys, but in Dayton OH, we had a wonderful old place called “Mendelsons” (which is also closed now.) Mendelsons had things for when you needed very old electronics: Vacuum tubes and tube testers, CRT tube equipment, old variacs and things like that. Floors and floors of the industrial detrius of the 20s-70s, but arranged in a way that you could actually score useable instruments.

    Last year, pre-pandemic, I visited and it had been hollowed out. Now it’s gone.

    Wating 2 weeks for something from Digikey, where you have to pay full price + shipping from China isn’t the same, and slows things down considerably.

    1. I’ve never bought anything from Digikey that had to ship from China. If you let them ship it by USPS it might. Pay a little more for UPS and get them in 2-3 days. I can remember when it might take 2 weeks to get a data sheet

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