The other day I witnessed a commercial that shocked me..
“Circuit City Is Going Out Of Business”
Circuit City has been almost an epic place in my life. It was across the bridge and one of the first places I went once getting a driver’s licence. Before the rise of online stores and durring the times of the dot com boom I went to Circuit city and it’s neighbor “CompUSA” to buy everything from CD’s, Car Stereos, Computers, and Parts… When I needed a quick cable for something CC was the spot.
Seeing this giant leave in retreat boggles my mind and in a way makes me sad. It’s the end of an era. It’s speculation on my part, but I believe the box store was the product of the strip mall surge of the early 60’s.. In my era “Box Stores” dominated mass spots and culminated acres of Parking space like Kindoms unto themselves.
All box stores in one way or another shared common trates.. “1 Stop Shopping.” The theory was that by buying bulk products stores like these could amass big discounts that they passed on to the consumers. This model isn’t US centric either– Yamada Denki, Bic Camera, etc in Japan also followed this model. Alass however– no matter how big, Circuit City couldn’t weather this typhoon of spending stoppage.
It leads to the next question as to what, then is the future. As one Circuit City Employee told me… “It’s all going online– Sales have dropped and even BestBuy (the apparent winner) is also feeling the pinch.” So indeed perhaps the in the wake of catastrophic economic failure the moral of the story was not that “Atmosphere of ‘Cool'” is what sold a product, but it’s price… For that was what Circuit city could get you… “Atmosphere”.
“FireDog” was their branding subsidiary that essentially did installation work of complex TV installs, Car Audio Installs, and Computer Setup (i.e. Personalization). I, in fact, used them once to install the wiring in a car I own because the previous user trashed the wiring in it or it didn’t exist. Regardless– the user experience mattered. It was an unique place where you could go to “touch” stuff.. That perhaps is the most thing I’ll miss about box stores. Half mall to window shop and half consumer playground to pick up stuff you had no hope of affording and using it (i.e. DSLRs, CONSOLES, Super Computers, Laptops).
Who is left in this game is uncertain… BestBuy might have survived, but at what cost? When newcomer “Netflix” came on board– it was scoffed by BlockBuster and Hollywood Video, but soon the concept turned into real competition and Blockbuster was forced to rethink it’s business model. Perhaps the future of Bestbuy must be a fusion of both the online world & tangible world.. Perhaps to transform stores from mega boutiques of gadgets and consumables to Full on show rooms with presentations and tutorials.
If it were me… (and it’s not) I would look to other “box-esk” stores like Home Depot, Staples, and Frys to see if I could secure a different cliental or offer different services.. Otherwise, BestBuy as it stands is doomed..or is it? My prediction is that BestBuy on this path will join the fate of CompUSA, Circuit City, and others by the end of this year or next. This calls for a major reorganization on how it does business..
As a part consumer and hobby-analyst my role in this remains to be a cautionous consumer and watchful observer… It’s not right to shame myself or guilt myself into buying at BestBuy for their sake– They must convince me that their drug is better then the one online..
In conclution.. I must say, I’m sure glad that for the years I spent going to Circuit City or CompUSA I never bought their “Protection Plan.”