By Harry McCracken | Monday, March 2, 2009 at 10:39 pm
Liquidation: It’s an ugly word for the ugly process of shutting down a retailer by selling off stuff little by little until there’s nothing left that anyone’s going to buy at any price. And my most recent visit to my local branch of the soon-to-be-defunct Circuit City in the Bay Area was…ugly. Literally. The place, which says it’s down to its final week of business, was in gloomy disarray–one part rummage sale, one part junk closet, and barely recognizable as the splashy consumer-electronics merchant that has been around for sixty years. And the bargains still weren’t exciting enough to attract more than a trickle of shoppers. After the jump, a bunch of photos I snapped with my iPhone.
The place looked a little desolate even before I went inside: The “Store Closing” banner was twisting in the wind like a Circuit City creditor, a “For Lease” sign was up, and you still tell where the signage promoting the Verizon Store within (which is gone) had been haphazardly removed.
Inside, large sections of the store floor were cordoned off like a crime scene, with stern warnings forbidding customers to enter them. These were the only areas of the place that didn’t look a little like a dump.
So the big question with any liquidation sale is: Are there deals to be had? This one did have at least a few–$45 for a fresh copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student is a steal–it goes for appreciably more even at eBay.
Curiously, Circuit City hasn’t seen fit to do anything insaaaaaaaaaane with PCs yet. Despite signs around the store claiming that everything was at least 30 percent off, desktops and laptops have still only been marked down by 20 percent. Most desktops seemed to be gone, but it had stacks and stacks of one HP model.
I didn’t see any factory-sealed notebooks remaining–Circuit City is still trying to sell open-box ones (floor models?) for only 20 percent off. As one shopper I overheard commented, “My socks remain firmly on.”
TVs were 40 percent off, including a 42-inch LG model that was in plentiful supply. I tried to find the LG elsewhere to see if Circuit City’s $779.49 price was a big whoop, but couldn’t find it–looks like it may be an old model. I did find TigerDirect selling an LG model that looks similar, but with better specs, for $20 more. And LG’s own site says that Circuit City’s set lists for $1049, not the $1299.99 that Circuit claims.
This left me feeling melancholy: The TVs that were still plugged in were running a video in a continuous loop bragging about the fabulous after-the-sale service and peace of mind that buying at Circuit City brings.
Weird: In same cases the store had dozens and dozens of one item on hand, as if someone in the purchasing department had been engaging in irrational exuberance. Such as one particular blue iPod case.
Circuit City also remains a great place to buy DVDs, as long as they’re either The Dark Knight or Hancock.
What was the single steepest discount I saw in the place?”Mobile Accessories” were eighty percent off. Most of them seemed to actually be parts that the store’s installation department would have used, such as car model-specific faceplates for installing aftermarket stereos.