Tag Archives | Retailers

A World Without Borders?

I wish Borders well, but it sounds like it might be about to join Circuit City, Tower Records, and other once-mighty retailers as a tenant in the great mall in the sky. I wonder how it would be doing today if it rather than Amazon.com had come up with the Kindle in 2007?


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Artist Takes Pictures of Mac Users in Apple Stores, Gets in Trouble

Good advice for artists: if your art project involves installing software on the demo Macs in Apple Stores and holding the exhibit in the Apple Store, you might want to reconsider.


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5Words: Black Friday Madness Starts Now

5wordsOh no, Black Friday’s coming!

President Obama: “I’ve never Tweeted.”

Facebook for WebOS: bare-bones.

Brightcove’s video on a budget.

Windows Mobile is sinking fast.

Bill Gates admires Steve Jobs.

AT&T’s Windows 7 Starter netbook.

Is Psystar’s defeat good news?

AMD powers world’s fastest supercomputer.

Buy notebook, get netbook free.
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CompUSA Makes a Comeback

comp_elpasoAfter Circuit City bit the dust earlier this year, you probably thought that Best Buy would pretty much be on its own in the electronics super-retailer category. Think again — an old name is making a comeback. CompUSA has now opened 30 locations — mostly in Florida — with a new outlook on retail.

Company execs call their effort “Retail 2.0.” According to Wired, Systemax is bringing back the brand through stores with better lighting, more inviting stores, aggressive pricing and in-store web access. The web access is intended to allow customers comparison shop right from the store to ensure they’re getting the best price.

No doubt CompUSA is also using its connection through Systemax to Tiger Direct, its sister company, to help it be more competitive in this retail environment. Tiger has generally been competitive when it comes to price as well. In fact, whether you go to Tiger or the retail store, the prices on products will be the same.

CompUSA will not restrict the Internet either — so a user could just as easily jump on Amazon and see if they can get what they’re looking at cheaper there. It’s somewhat of a risk, but the company feels that it will give consumers more confidence and thus lead to a sale.

With Circuit City gone, if this concept works well it could be an opening for CompUSA to re-emerge as a competitor on a national level to Best Buy. It could also be a plus for consumers — Best Buy would not have free reign on setting prices.


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Apple Store Traffic Flat, But Sales Are Down

applestoreApple has taken quite a bit of pride in its successful retail operation, and rightly so. It has grown at a rate not seen by other electronics outlets as of late, and sales have been consistently higher every quarter.

Not so for the holidays. Traffic was essentially flat in the fourth quarter, down 1.8 percent. The real drop was in sales, falling 17.4 percent and showing that consumers are buying less, Needham analyst Charlie Wolf found.

“Consumers aren’t in a spending mood,” he quipped to Barron’s (subscription only).

Barron’s Mark Veverka also makes an astitute observation: Apple’s struggles at retail could reverberate. Malls will feel the difference as these stores have become attractions, bringing in new consumers that may have otherwise not shopped the mall.

Another effect is as Apple sells less, it produces less. This sends shockwaves backward into its whole supply chain. Companies that have produced iPod parts know this all too well: an adjustment in Apple’s ordering can cause them to completely miss their own financial goals (it’s happened).

While its certainly alarming to shareholders that one of Apple’s primary revenue drivers are falling upon hard times, consider this: Apple can afford some loss at retail.

As Doug McIntyre at BloggingStocks put it, these stores serve almost as a showroom of sorts for the company: “As long as Apple’s revenues are improving, there is hardly reason to complain,” he argues. I can’t argue with that.


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A Brief History of Defunct Electronics Chains in the Form of Old TV Ads

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Today’s news that Circuit City, American’s second-largest electronics retailer, has filed for bankruptcy left me sad. And, oddly enough, nostalgic. The City isn’t going out of business, but as I reflected on its woes I thought about all the electronics chains I’ve shopped at over the years–the vast majority of which are no longer with us. (If Circuit City were to close its doors, it would leave only Best Buy and RadioShack as truly national chains focused solely on consumer electronics of all sorts, right?)

Once I got nostalgic, I did what I often do in such situations: I headed to YouTube. Which is rife with old commercials for defunct electronics retailers. Many of these chains basically did themselves in through poor management or inability to change with the times, and I thought some of them were shabby even when I did business with them; But it’s fun to get reacquainted with them through the miracle of streaming video.

After the jump, a look back, mostly in chronological order sorted by the year of the chain’s demise (click on the year for more details on the circumstances of its death).

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Is Circuit City’s Bankruptcy the Beginning of the End?

circuitcitylogoA week ago, the bad news about Circuit City was that it was closing 115 of its locations. New week, new bad news: The company has filed for Chapter 11 voluntary bankruptcy, a move that will will let it continue business without having to pay all its creditors all the money it owes them.

Bankruptcies aren’t always signs of impending corporate death. But they sure aren’t signs of robust health, either. Companies that file for bankruptices generally then segue towards one of two fates: hobbling along in a bumpy fashion thereafter, or folding.

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