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Fry’s Electronics is expected to close its entire chain of electronics superstores nationwide at midnight tonight. Reports from Bill Reynolds and Matthew Keys surfaced today, and the rumors have been confirmed by broadcaster KRON4.

The company has been closing stores since January 2020, even before the pandemic struck. It has closed stores in Campbell and Anaheim in California, and last year there were lots of reports about how most of Fry’s stores were running out of inventory and weren’t being restocked. I asked Fry’s for comment today, but my spokesperson’s email bounced back.

This is another sign of the retail apocalypse, as stores have been squeezed out by Amazon’s growth and the pandemic. Last year, Fry’s said it was transitioning its stores to a consignment model.

Under the consignment model, vendors assume the risk of shipping goods to Fry’s. If an item sells, the vendor gets paid, but at no point does Fry’s buy the goods. Under this arrangement, Fry’s has no responsibility to maintain the merchandise in a sellable condition or even keep track of it. And it appears vendors weren’t eager to take the risk.

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Fry’s started out as a supermarket chain in California. The Fry family opened its first electronics store in Sunnyvale, California in 1985. The chain grew to dozens of big-box electronics retail stores over the ensuing decades. Each store had a unique theme, and they were huge, selling everything from potato chips to computer chips. By around 2014, Fry’s had 34 stores nationwide.

The Fry’s stores are huge warehouses that often occupy prime real estate. I’m curious what is going to replace those stores, as they will leave gaping holes in retail centers and malls around the country. I haven’t been in a Fry’s in a long time. But like a lot of gamers, I have fond memories of browsing through the aisles, and I will miss the chain.

Update 11:59 a.m. on 2/24/21: Fry’s confirmed the reports on its web page:

After nearly 36 years in business as the one-stop-shop and online resource for high-tech professionals across nine states and 31 stores, Fry’s Electronics, Inc. (“Fry’s” or “Company”), has made the difficult decision to shut down its operations and close its business permanently as a result of changes in the retail industry and the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Company will implement the shut down through an orderly wind down process that it believes will be in the best interests of the Company, its creditors, and other stakeholders.

The Company ceased regular operations and began the wind-down process on February 24, 2021. It is hoped that undertaking the wind-down through this orderly process will reduce costs, avoid additional liabilities, minimize the impact on our customers, vendors, landlords and associates, and maximize the value of the Company’s assets for its creditors and other stakeholders.

The Company is in the process of reaching out to its customers with repairs and consignment vendors to help them understand what this will mean for them and the proposed next steps.

If you have questions, please contact us using the following email addresses:

For customers who have equipment currently being repaired, please email customerservice@frys.com, to arrange for return of your equipment.

For customers with items needing repair under a Performance Service Contract, please call (800) 811-1745.

For consignment vendors needing to pick up their consignment inventory at Fry’s locations, please email omnichannel@frys.com.

Please understand if we are a bit slow to respond given the large volume of questions. The Company appreciates your patience and support through this process.

Sincerely,

Fry’s Electronics

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