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Business

NOW I get why CompUSA is closing so many stores

During the last few days, I have been thinking about what might be driving CompUSA's recent announcement that they are closing slightly more than half of their U.S.
Written by Russell Shaw, Contributor on
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During the last few days, I have been thinking about what might be driving CompUSA's recent announcement that they are closing slightly more than half of their U.S. stores. According to the company, most if not all of these stores are "underperforming."

The next question would be, so why are all these outlets underperforming?

For the most convenient analysis, I chose the example of someone I know who is a frequent purchaser of computing and telecommunications technology for his home office and his travels. That would be me.

Here's what I have concluded:

1. For my computing office supplies, such as printer cartridges and paper, I go to Office Depot or Staples. Because these outlets are far more numerous in my metro area than Comp USA's are, they are bound to be a lot closer to my home office, and more convenient for that one-stop shopping. Sometimes I can even find these goods in my supermarket.

2. For serious hardware, I go to Fry's. There stores are generally several times the size of CompUSA. There's far more inventory, and the sales staff is that much more informed.

3. For computer repairs, I deal with Best Buy's Geek Squad. While I am fully capable of unhooking my PC and bringing it in to the CompUSA's service desk, that's not necessarily the most determinative diagnositic environment. I have grown to welcome Geek Squad's ability to actually come out here, diagnose, and fix the problem. The "geeks" carry motherboards with them, you know.

4. For handsets, I use factory-authorized repair shops. I use a BlackBerry. When my last one went south, I didn't go to the CompUSA service desk. I drove all of ten minutes to my local authorized Nextel service center. They set me up with a new BlackBerry, and even were patient enough to do the SIM card settings transfer.

Notice that in no case did I have the convenience-spawned irrestible urge to visit CompUSA. Why? Because they don't offer anything so compelling and unique to me that their many competitors don't.  

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