Fry’s Electronics announced that it will close its store in Anaheim, California. That follows an announcement in September that the company was shutting a store in January, 2020.

I asked them in September if the whole chain was shutting down, and they said no. A spokesman said the company was restocking its shelves. But the reason I asked was because I went into a store in Campbell, California, and it was barren. Almost nothing on the shelves. It seemed like another sign of the retail apocalypse.

Asked by a tweeter if it was the beginning of the end, Fry’s tweeted back, “We sure hope not! We apologize for the inconvenience as we transition our stores to our new consignment model. Our other stores are remaining open, and we are making progress every week stocking our stores.”

Under the consignment model, vendors take the risk of shipping goods to Fry’s. If it sells, the vendor gets paid. But in this model, Fry’s does not buy the goods from the vendor. Under consignment, Fry’s has no responsibility to maintain the merchandise in a sellable condition or even keep track of it at all. And it appears that lots of vendors are not taking this risk.

On social media, there are widespread reports of empty shelves in other locations.

Fry’s started out as a supermarket chain in California. The Fry family started its first electronics store in 1985 in Sunnyvale, California. 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. You could buy everything from potato chips to computer chips at Fry’s Electronics. Around 2014, Fry’s had 34 stores nationwide.

It seems like this chain is like The Walking Dead, unaware that its best days are behind it.

Manuel Valerio, spokesman for Fry’s, sent this email on February 26:

We now have over 300 vendors with whom we have consignment contracts, and we’re diligently working to enlist more in the next several weeks.  We appreciate our customers’ patience as this is a continuing work in progress. The transition to consignment is not a factor in our recent decision to close our Anaheim location.

It was determined that we were over-stored in in the Orange County area, and closing Anaheim allows us the opportunity to address that situation and still serve our customers’ electronics needs via our Fountain Valley Store.  Product in our Anaheim Store will be transferred to Fountain Valley. We are also touting our same-day free delivery for orders of $35 or more.

No other stores are planned for closure at this time.

[Updated: 11:45 a.m. 2/26/20 with comment from Fry’s].

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