CompUSA is closing for good. Good.

CompUSA is closing for good. Good.

Summary: Out of Dallas comes word that CompUSA, the 103-store chain that has been struggling in recent years, will cease operations after this Holiday season.While I genuinely feel sad for store employees who will have to look for another job, that's the only reason for regret I can muster.

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Out of Dallas comes word that CompUSA, comp_logo_wgwg.gif the 103-store chain that has been struggling in recent years, will cease operations after this Holiday season.

While I genuinely feel sad for store employees who will have to look for another job, that's the only reason for regret I can muster.

I haven't shopped there in years.  Why? Because I haven't had a reason to.

Face it. CompUSA has been outgunned by nimbler operations. You have Best Buy, with their quite capable in-store and house-call Geek Squad service, Staples, Office Depot and Office Max for their greater penetration into neighborhoods where many of us live; Fry's Electronics for those of us who like to shop for everything from PDAs to refrigerators and HD televisions in an almost festive, big box environment.

And did I mention the Internet, for those quick purchases?

CompUSA never offered a comprehensive solution for today's multi-gadget, multi-platform, multi-machine  digital lifestyle.   Devices were available,  but not so much the parts to make them work. I mean, go into Fry's and you'll see more electronic gear SKUs than this side of Graybar Electric.

And when it comes to customer support, CompUSA has always struck me with their bored, inattentive, relatively informed and underpopulated floor staff. Compare that to Best Buy and Fry's, where I have always found the sales and support folks eager and attentive.

And on the enteprise side of the equation? Although I've never used CompUSA Tech Pro, I could see how a business owner or exec would snicker at the notion of using retail-based help rather than the better skilled and frequently certified (Microsoft, Cisco, etc.) solution providers available to them than representatives of a computer chain that is behind the times in terms of inventory, expertise and basically being with it.

Or make that was behind the times. Sounds like a month from now, CompUSA will only be a memory.

And not a good one.

Will you miss CompUSA?

Topics: Hardware, Browser, Mobility

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93 comments
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  • We don't have Fry's on the east coast

    otherwise I might agree. Now I am even more limited in the number of places I can pick up parts I need that day. I usually shop via internet if it is not an emergency, but if there is an emergency Best Buy and Staples do not have a lot of parts I might need.
    Michael Kelly
    • Consider yourself extremely fortunate...

      Fry's or Fried Electronics as those of us on the west coast call it is a place where the phrase "caveat emptor" has new meaning. You have to be VERY careful buying anything from them - those with a little sticker saying it's discounted because a "customer opened the box" is generally an excellent reason to drop the box and run for your life and sanity. Fried tends to sell stuff cheaply enough otherwise, but most of their stock tends to be of lesser quality and judging by the line at the returns desk, is a real indication as to what's being sold there.

      I could talk about some real horror stories but it would take up a LOT of space. Suffice it to say, Fried is not the panacea for buying electronics the author makes it out to be.

      Their support department, while they may seem "cheerful" enough tend to be... Well... What kind of support can you expect from someone getting paid minimum wage or thereabouts? Don't expect it to be top quality.

      Merchandise with the aforementioned little tag tends to have, indeed, been opened by someone - and returned for some unspecified reason. But instead of a.) checking to see if the package is complete, or b.) checking to see if the merchandise is in fact, defective, those cheerful little devils simply put the box through a shrink wrap machine and slap a discount tag on the box - and stick it back on the shelf.

      Fried is nothing to write home about...
      Wolfie2K3
      • Fry's Unfriendliness

        Fry's staff is generally very unfriendly. They usually act like they are being disturbed when asked for location of a product. When they finally do give an answer, half the time it is incorrect. Their prices are very competitive though.
        pwabbit@...
        • Fry's is good for me ...

          ... but only because the ONLY thing I ask any worker in the store is where something is. And if he/she doesn't know, I kindly show them how to find it on their store computer.

          As far as ANY of them go --- Fry's, Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. --- the in store "technical" help is worthless to the point of being dangerous.
          OButterball
          • All of these store's help is FUBAR.

            That is like comparing the quality of help between KMart, Walmart, Sams and Target. They all hire kids that are clueless. It is CompUSA that had the highest prices and paid the price. Last time I went in there it was dead.
            osreinstall
      • fry's - better'n it was at first

        Frankly it's a slight pain to shop at my nearest (11 miles) Fry's in Phoenix, but as opposed to when the store first opened, I find the staff quite friendly and helpful and much more knowledgeable than a few years ago. I too have accidently purchased re-packaged goods - and nearly always find some missing part, piece or component, necessitating an irritating drive back - and given the rather limited return period, have at least on one occasion been "stuck" with the deficient goods. On a repeat similar experience however, I asked to speak with a manager, who gave me store credit for same, with which I was completely satisfied. I also cannot complain about some of the great deals I've gotten on manufacturer refurbs at Fry's. Now if they could just get those young'uns to pull up their unprofessional lookin' saggy diaper pants!
        jmmailin
      • Re Fry's

        I too have found Ffy's electronics to suffer from the choices of merchandise. I can only wonder why Fry's would continue to buy and resell components from manufacturers whose items are returned in high numbers. Considering the supposed advantages of buying foreign electronics, I believe I am seeing more items shipped to Fry's that have not had any sort of quality control.

        One motherboard brand which seems to be routinely bundled with their AMD and Intel CPU's has consistently failed within one year or less. Full failures have occured within one week of installation. While I was at fault with the first such mb, I did learn from the mistake. I soon found that these motherboards would partially work, ie no USB, no sound, etc., or as above fail soon afterward.

        Based on the situation and the continuation of the failures, I must presume there is either a problem with the merchandise or I am consistently making mistakes. Motherboards from MSI, Asus, and others have not given the problems of the bundled motherboard.

        There appears to be a lack of understanding at the Purchasing side of Fry's that buying and selling this type of merchandise is in reality not good business. It encourages manufacturers to not perform the needed Quality Assurance steps. By extention the return lines in Fry's are long and this erodes profit. It would be good business to keep the return statistics on these lines to determine the pattern.
        jns_45K@...
      • Sounds like you had a bad experience

        I have bought many Opend box items from, and they all worked just as the sales rep said. When my mom first thought about getting a Max we went to Fry's and had a wonderful sales rep then too. Two weeks after my mom bought the laptop it would not charge, so we took it back to the store and they replaced the laptop and copied all of my moms information to the new hard drive the same day. Since then no problems and the laptop is at least four years old.

        While Fry;s is pretty far from where we live it is still an excellent place.
        BroGnorik
    • region...

      no Fry's in the Midwest, either. Best Buy is good for assembled stuff, but if I need, say, a new power supply, they have one option and it's the most expensive one on the market. CompUSA moved out of here last year when they pulled out of underperforming markets, but it left a rift for some types of stuff. Fortunately for me, there is a Microcenter reasonably near.

      I think CompUSA diversified to the wrong markets - when you think "big screen TV" it certainly isn't the first place I'd think of, but they had a good selection of them. They should have targeted enthusiasts and not try to go head-to-head with Best Buy, Circuit City, etc.
      Clewin
      • Mico Center is the bomb!

        Out here in Denver we are lucky to have Mico Center and it's right on the way home for me (which is extremely dangerou$). They are fantastic for a BYOPC or a pre-made system. I'm not sure why they don't have more stores.
        dmecolorado
        • It's still The Bomb!

          Because the owners are very smart, conservative, businessmen.

          MicroCenter was started by two ex-Radio Shack employees, John Baker and Bill Bayne, opening a 900 square foot storefront operation in a "mini-mall" on Lane Avenue in Columbus, Ohio. Within a year they had expanded into a nearby abandoned G.C.Murphy department store in the same Lane Avenue shopping center, which is nearby to Ohio State University, a huge potential source of revenue.

          These two guys must be terrific business men to have seen the opportunity in the new location: it was layed out like a department store... so, they created a Personal Computer Department Stoe! Sort of like a Sears or JC Penny for PC users.

          The Lane Avenue store was wildly successful. I went there for the first time in the early 80s and was blown away by how well it was organized and the quality of staff they hired. Hacker heaven! But the store didn't just cater to computer geeks. Your grandmother would feel comfortable shopping there.

          The Internet and on-line shopping was virtually non-existant at that time. This was the era of 1200 bps modems (if you could afford them) and BBS dial-in sites. I "upgraded" from a 300 bps modem to 1200 and eventually 9600 at that store before signing up (for a short time) with Compuserv. That was a wonderful decade for personal computing. A real wild west environment with Micro Center providing an oasis of sanity.

          Mom and Pop "computer stores" sprang up all over the place (most are gone today), fueled by cheap Taiwan parts. Custom built was the only way to buy anything if you couldn't afford IBM. MicroCenter did/does sell imported stuff, but their main thing was quality and service.

          The founders conserved their profits and expanded cautiously and slowly, always being profitable and not leveraging too much. It seemed forever (to me) before they opened a store in Cincinnati, which is somewhat closer to Dayton. Same experience shopping there, same "department store" layout and friendly, knowledgable sales people.

          The company is still privately owned today with only 21 stores nationwide. That takes real marketing savvy and a certain lack of greed to accomplish. I haven't visited any other MicroCenter stores, but I would bet they are all the same. CompUSA never came close. I just wish MicroCenter would open a store in Dayton so I wouldn't have to drive so far.
          hevans@...
  • RE: CompUSA is closing for good. Good.

    One thing you missed noting about retail in general, and Fry's specifically...floor staff that is completely clueless. Unless you're going to buy that major music system for your low-rider you will not find them knowledgeable. They do have an amazing amount of inventory, including some truly unexpected things (15krpm SCSI disks!).

    Also, their merchandising sucks. If I were a manufacturer I would insist that my staff setup and maintain the displays. I recently saw and end-aisle display for Toshiba HD-DVD gear, but the lovely Toshiba LCD TV was showing a poor quality SD off-air display of Judge Judy...even as there were three HD-DVD players in the display! And a select of disks. Such idiocy!

    I've repeatedly asked them why they can't simply ensure that HD material is being shown on the HD TVs. This is a city (Houston) where the cable system has >40 HD channels. They simply don't care. They have the best price. Do you want that product? Or Not?

    Michael
    mjgraves
  • RE: CompUSA is closing for good. Good.

    Wow! As an employee of Comp I would like to ask if you have ever left your house to shop. Go into Fry's and good luck finding anyone who knows anything about what they are selling. Let me not forget Best Buy where the only thing most of the associates are concerned with is when Lost Season 3 will come out or what club they are going to that night. These retailers have a strong advantage over Comp in that they advertise on TV which last time I checked is a great strategy for increasing sales. The associates in my store are not only customer friendly but they also are as up to date as anyone I have met in recent years. One more note about Best Buy. You mentioned their great geek squad as an advantage. Call them up and see what kind of real service you get. CompUSA TechPro is probably the best in the bunch due to their demand for certified techs. Good luck getting anything certified from our competitors. While you have the right to bash the company maybe you should have exercised the right to shop there first and find out first hand how good we were. It is people like you that have caused our sales to drop.
    amslact
    • CompUSA

      You're right. I will sorely miss my CompUSA in Santa Barbara.
      tomcam
      • We lost all the stores in Pa, except for one in

        Pittsburg, (seven hours away) months ago.
        CompUSA may not have been everything, but the major reason I would shop there was selection.

        Where the above mentioned stores may carry 3 types of video cards, 2 style sound sound cards, a coulpe of hard drive or CD drives, the one thing CompUSA had was that they had a much, much larger selection of items from which to choose.
        GuidingLight
        • Prefer Frys

          OK, I like Frys because I know what I want and they have anything I need. I can also return anything for almost any reason without penalty. I have bought items from Compusa that did not work and had to pay restocking fees. More than once after trying to get the item to work and finding it was defective the Comp still tried to charge me. I had to dispute the credit card charge.
          Yes, Frys has few people who know what they are trying to sell (Especially Audio) and they push Monster cables, I would still prefer them, or OfficeMax or even Office Depot to CompUSA.
          davidconrad@...
    • RE: CompUSA is closing for good. Good.

      The experiences you describe at Fry's and BestBuy describe my experiences at CompUSA. While I do agree with your description of what to expect at BestBuy and Fry's, CompUSA was no better. And the experience held true in both CompUSA stores in my area. In fact, it was usually worse, as the selection of products was far less than the competition had available. I did exercise the right to shop at CompUSA, and it was the service that caused the sales to drop.
      jafucci@...
    • CompUSA

      I too feel the same as you. My experiences with CompUSA were good. I have a Sony VaioW30 and I wanted to increase my ram. CompUSA was the only source that investigated and followed up with me. They gave me a manufacturer and SKU with a competitive price. I ordered it and everything worked out fine. I always included CompUSA in my searches for merchandise.

      I'm sorry to see a customer oriented store go out of business. I know the feeling. I worked for a national company for over 26 years and they folded also.

      Sorry guys!

      Al Hebert
      alberthebert
  • CompUSA will be missed

    CompUSA was the last major retailer that carried a wide selection of computer equipment. The selection at the office supply stores is pitiful; Best Buy is slightly better, but the CompUSA stores where I've shopped are the same size as Best Buy -- completely filled with computer products.

    I have to admit that I shopped at Best Buy more than CompUSA, but that's only because of location. If they had a store as close as Best Buy, CompUSA would be my first choice. They carry brands and products that I never see at Best Buy. The last time I was there, I was like a kid in a candy store.

    Oh well, I guess I'll become a purely online shopper...
    dtregay
    • I Haven't Been To Compusa in Years

      All my computer related purchases are done on New Egg. I was in Best Buy yesterday and for what they charge for a GIG of ram I can get 2 on New Egg
      bmore_bro69@...