What's going on at Circuit City?
January 16, 2009 11:39 PM   Subscribe

Circuit City: Founded in 1949 as the Wards Company, Circuit City is headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. At the time of the liquidation announcement (January 16, 2009), the company operated 567 stores in 153 media. Ok bai.
posted by hypersloth (72 comments total)
 
Why is this a good post for Metafilter?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:43 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


So I guess that means I can't return the wireless adapter I bought from them a couple of days ago that turned out not to work?

I see a credit card dispute in my near future.
posted by wierdo at 11:43 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


the ok bai link goes nowhere
posted by slater at 11:49 PM on January 16, 2009


Well, it's not completely dead. There's a small chance of another company buying them out before they liquidate, and I hear they will continue operations in Canada.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:50 PM on January 16, 2009


Why is this a good post for Metafilter?
It's more like newsfilter.
posted by hypersloth at 11:50 PM on January 16, 2009


they changed the link.
posted by hypersloth at 11:51 PM on January 16, 2009


"Liquidation sales begin as early as Saturday, January 17, 2009, and will last as long as it takes to sell through the merchandise at each of the stores. We expect the sales to wrap up by the end of March 2009."

...now aren't you glad you didn't spend all your money during Christmas?!

Perhaps they need to invent a new holiday, like Afterxmas, in order to put people in the right festive mood for the upcoming nationwide fire sales.
posted by markkraft at 11:54 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]




wierdo, from what I understand if you bought something before the store closure was announced you're still able to do returns.
posted by sugarfish at 11:59 PM on January 16, 2009


Someone will probably buy the brand name, I would imagine.
posted by delmoi at 12:01 AM on January 17, 2009


Eh, overpriced merchandise for the most part.

Although, I will miss their old commercials -- "Uh, excuse me... last week I bought this, and today I saw this."
posted by spiderskull at 12:10 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


But where will children get shitty toys that disappoint them on Christmas Morn?
posted by bardic at 12:46 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


[fixed the bai link]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:18 AM on January 17, 2009


I applied for a sales job there once, years ago. Longest application process I ever went through. They hired me, but for a diffferent department than the one I wanted and was better qualified for. Thankfully, another place hired me before I started.
posted by jonmc at 1:37 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


So I guess that means I can't return the wireless adapter I bought from them a couple of days ago that turned out not to work?

"Customers can return products they purchased prior to January 16 for a 14-day period for exchange or refunds. All other terms of return policy are in force."
posted by zippy at 1:44 AM on January 17, 2009


CircuitCity's website doesn't show anything about what they sell. Can anyone tell me if I'm likely to find a T-Mobile G1 or Apple iPhone there?
posted by zippy at 1:47 AM on January 17, 2009


If you are looking for name brand electronics, I'm pretty sure that this is the point (the bankruptcy announcement) where they can break the minimum reale price of goods. They went into bakruptcy protection back in June though, so most (reputable) companies have kept their inventories miminmal with Circuit City in preparation for a big loss.

Liquidated product means basically the reseller breaks even with costs; however the manufacturer looses a fair amount of margin as many customers will buy at the store going through liquidation. As a manufacturer, you could try to buy back your old product (and incur the costs of shipping, storing, etc), but more than likely the margin would disappear completely.
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:09 AM on January 17, 2009


Big whup.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:35 AM on January 17, 2009


I haven't been in a Circuit City in a couple of years... poor service, poor inventory, poor layout, Best Buy beat them in every category... this doesn't surprise me and I'm not going to miss them at all.
posted by HuronBob at 3:48 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, you mean they couldn't upsale the value of the company to the creditors? I went in a Circuit City for a new antenna for the car. Apparantly; they could not handle such low tech stuff. All the add ons and converters and crap ran to over $35. Hello ebay and goodbye bloated crapfest.

Good riddance.
posted by buzzman at 3:54 AM on January 17, 2009


And let us not forget DIVX, a product that was second only to the dildo in screwing its consumers. Not to be confused with DivX the video compression codec, this was a scheme where you would pay for a video disc, then pay more each subsequent time you wanted to watch it via players which connected to a centralized billing system over phone lines and debited your account automatically. Hollywood loved the idea, of course, and it threatened DVD when both formats were new for that reason, but the public unanimously responded with "you have got to be fucking kidding me" and it quietly died. On second thought, let us forget it.

Oh, and Circuit City was absolutely the worst offender when it came to hard-selling worthless "extended warranties". They've basically shown nothing but contempt for their customers throughout their history in a number of ways. They deserve this completely.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:08 AM on January 17, 2009 [21 favorites]


I had stopped buying at that store when the fired ALL their employees and then offered them their jobs back at a much lower salary than they had been making. Took myself to Best Buy instead.
posted by Postroad at 4:32 AM on January 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


If I could favorite your comment a thousand times, DecemberBoy, I would.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:13 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you go in for liquidation sales, wait until it gets closer to March. The liquidation company will mark the "original" price on everything up to MSRP and discount from there, meaning that in the early weeks of the sale, the markdowns might not be as good as what you'd pay at a Best Buy or Amazon.
posted by drezdn at 5:36 AM on January 17, 2009


I was shopping for a Wii in the middle of last year. I called all 3 CCs in my area trying to locate one, and after navigating their endless menu, finally got the extension for the video game department. The phone rang and rang and rang. This happened at all 3 stores. I hung up, called Toys 'R' Us, and they answered and had one in stock, so they got the sale.

A month later I went shopping for a Wii Fit. Same thing again with all 3 stores -- 6 menus to navigate so that no one could answer my call. On the 3rd store I tried an experiment, called back and hit the number for their Verizon cell phones. I asked for a Wii.

"This is the cell department. Hold on, let me transfer you to video games."

"Wait, no. No one is answering the phone there."

"Yeah, they probably won't answer over there."

"So why are you transferring me there?"

"..."

"Thanks, never mind."

That pretty much sums up every experience I had shopping with them. I've never seen such a mis-managed store in my life. They've been asking for this for years. Though I do feel sorry for the employees.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:44 AM on January 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm planning on heading over there today to loot the body.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:54 AM on January 17, 2009


I went last night to take a peek. The deals aren't very good yet. Standard sale prices, from what I could see.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:56 AM on January 17, 2009


I have only had unpleasant experiences with that store. Good riddance.
posted by swift at 6:18 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


What angers me about big box stores like Circuit City, Best Buy, and the like is that they sell more cameras than any other store, and yet, can't seem to hire anyone who knows absolutely anything about photography.

In my last few visits to these big boxes to look at an inexpensive point and shoot (which I bought from Amazon at about half the cost), not only could I not find anyone who had real answers to my questions, I helped at least three people buy a decent camera because I knew the answers to the questions they were asking.
posted by ColdChef at 6:33 AM on January 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Actually, their price matching plus 10% of the price difference rocked, and I profited from it more than once. (although the comment that CC had "poor service, poor inventory, poor layout, [and] Best Buy beat them in every category..." is certainly true). Nevertheless, another 30,000 jobs lost and people - including people I know - thrown out of work is not a good thing, especially now. People earned livings from this crappy company with idiot management, and they will suffer and their lives will be made much harder through no fault of their own. Triumphalism isn't called for.
posted by Auden at 6:37 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


.

CC is where I purchased my first new laptop, after a pawn shop ThinkPad bit the dust... that laptop was CHEAP, and worked omg well for what I needed. Thank You CC, you will be missed.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 6:37 AM on January 17, 2009


Looks pretty bad when Radio Shack outlasts a major electronics store, but then again
Radio Shack had a free battery club.
posted by doctorschlock at 6:50 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


What angers me about big box stores like Circuit City, Best Buy, and the like is that they sell more cameras than any other store, and yet, can't seem to hire anyone who knows absolutely anything about photography.


Or computers (unless you didn't really know you really wanted to buy World of Warcraft, then suddenly they know everything), video games (unless you want to play Guitar Hero, then suddenly they know everything), and which earbuds to buy (unless you give up and buy them elsewhere, then YOU know everything).

I went to Radio Shack recently looking for headphones and it was like talking to Ph.D-level electronics wizards by comparison.

They should re-name Best Buy as Blue Shirt Zombie Town.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:50 AM on January 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm with spiderskull on this: their stuff was always way overpriced. Same reason I wasn't surprised Ames Dept. Stores went out of business years ago (although I briefly worked for them).

The only thing I feel bad about is those 30,000 workers losing their jobs. It's a tough market to find a job in right now.
posted by Chocomog at 6:51 AM on January 17, 2009


Radio Shack gets a lot of shit but, by god, they hire the best nerds.
posted by Mick at 7:11 AM on January 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Circuit City will indeed continue operating in Canada.

And it is odd to hear that Radio Shack is its competition in the US, because here in the Great White North, they are the same company: in 2005, all the Radio Shacks disappeared one night to be replaced by rebranded stores with the not-at-all unwieldy name of The Source By Circuit City.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:23 AM on January 17, 2009


So, no blame for the overuse of mail-in rebates? Circuit City used those more than any other store, in my experience, and continued to use them for darned near everything even after the buying public screamed its collective displeasure. I went in a relatively new one near me a few months ago and was startled by how many dollars' off signs with "mail in rebate" noted under them were still around.
posted by raysmj at 7:39 AM on January 17, 2009


I've purchased a ton of stuff from them thanks to my $5000 line of credit. I just bought a 42" plasma there. Never had any problems with CC. As I recall, maybe 5 or 8 years ago, shopping at CC was like walking into a retail mausoleum. They really pulled their act together in the intervening years and gave BB a run for their money. Sure, it was like shopping a a red version of BB at times ($59 for HDMI cables? Fuck you in the eye) but I always seemed to find what I needed and they always accepted returns with no problems.

I wish they could have thrived as a foil to BB's but they seemed only to copy BB's model. Good riddance as far as I'm concerned. Maybe NewEgg will go retail.... /dreamer.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:46 AM on January 17, 2009


I was looking for an LCD TV 'round xmas. Stopped by CC (and the traffic...ugh, won't get into it) and after trying to make eye contact with an employee for about ten minutes to ask questions, memorized some model numbers and headed over to BB. Only, I didn't memorize *prices*. Whoops. Fuckit, went home - the Big Box experience makes me pray for the end of the world. Later in the day, I called CC and asked for the prices on the two TVs I was interested in. Theey gave me a price that was 100 less than BB. I responded positively, and headed back through the traffic slog to the store. Only...the guy on the phone had quoted me the price on the wrong fucking TV. I talked to teh manager of the department, who said we could probably work something out. So he called for the store manager. And we waited, and waited. After about fifteen minutes, the department manager went and found the store manager, who basically said "tough shit" and would I like to buy this other TV at the marked price?

Fuck you pal. FUck you CC. Can't even hire morons that can read prices.
posted by notsnot at 7:49 AM on January 17, 2009


The Circuit City up the road from me has mysteriously smelled of overwhelming B.O. ever since its opening. Every couple of years I wander in there and get smacked in the face with armpit smell... it's very strange.

I hope they turn it into a really big Yankee Candle or something to counteract the stench.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 8:02 AM on January 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


CC always seemed like the last bastion of dimly-lit, overdesigned electronics stores with high-pressure commissioned salesdudes pitching extended warranties. By comparison, big warehouse stores, no matter how crappy, mismanaged and incompetent in their own right, are actually appealing. When your store can't compete with places like Best Buy and CompUSA, you know that you're doing something very, very wrong.

Also, those recent-ish CC commercials where they're pimping sexy teevees to married guys? Yuck.
posted by box at 8:06 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Say what you will about the company or their lousy retail practices, but the corporate headquarters are here in Richmond, and I have several good friends who lost salaried positions and were just thrown out on the street. Having been recently thrown out on the street myself from a completely different company, just after the first of the year, I know especially well what it's like to be in their shoes at this time of year when no companies are hiring.
posted by emelenjr at 8:07 AM on January 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it will be a while before there are any decent deals to be had. The Circuit City liquidation is being run by the nefarious Gordon Brothers, the jerks behind the liquidations of CompUSA, Sharper Image, Tweeter, and, most recently, Linens N' Things. (Clearly, Consumerist.com is no big fan).

As drezdn pointed out upthread, their MO is to raise prices to (and sometimes above) MSRP to sucker people into thinking they're getting a better deal than they actually are. I understand that the whole point of liquidating is getting as much money from in-stock items in as little time as possible, but the Gordon Brothers approach strikes me as ten kinds of shady.
posted by shiu mai baby at 8:41 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


So long, Circuitous City. You made ChumpUSA look polished in comparison.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:53 AM on January 17, 2009


I, too, have had several unpleasant shopping experiences with CC and can say, without hesitation, good riddance.

Why do we say we are sorry for the employees on one hand, but trash their moronic incompetence on the other? Do we think that CC was some sort of welfare program for idiots? "Well, Dave is kinda slow, but he looks good in a red shirt. Thank God he has that job at the Circuit City so I only have to deal with him when I want to buy a new TV." Maybe some of them can get street corner liquidation sign twirling jobs.
posted by sciatica at 8:54 AM on January 17, 2009


I think the only thing I've bought at Circuit City in the past ten years has been a few DS games and accessories. Why? Because they'd let me return them if they were defective/not enjoyed, unlike some people.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:01 AM on January 17, 2009


Having been recently thrown out on the street myself from a completely different company, just after the first of the year, I know especially well what it's like to be in their shoes at this time of year when no companies are hiring.

Indeed. Even if seeing tens of thousands of economically vulnerable people dumped into the cold doesn't give you pause, what this development portends for the larger economy where you may still be clinging to employment should.

That said, proposing Best Buy as a replacement is some kind of cruel joke. If Circuit City was a "10" in unpleasant shopping, Best Buy takes it to the proverbial 11. I can think of no other shopping chain where I am so invariably made to feel like a criminal the moment I walk through the door. I would happily drive 30 minutes each way to give my consumer dollars to anyone else.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:06 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Radio Shack does not hire nerds in my area (GTA). They seem to hire only apathetic fuckwit teenagers with attitudes so bad they will text on their phone WHILE CHECKING YOU OUT. It's pretty much the only place where I always have a cheeky fuck you comment for the kids on my way out the door, because I get so annoyed with their attitude in the 45 seconds it takes me to find what I'm looking for and get their attention so that I can check out. The comment is usually something like "slow down guys, you don't want to hurt yourself", or "wow! Who do you think will get employee of the month this month!?" Ain't nothing wrong with giving shithead teenagers their passive agression right back. I'm sure it wounds them to the core.

I love big box electronics stores for the liberal return policies, and big box store extended warranties are not always useless. I have gotten a few "free" video card upgrades by having something go wrong with a video card purchased from them in the third year of the warranty... best one was upgrading from a near-three-year-old but still-inside-extended-warranty Radeon 8500 that started to glitch so I exchanged it for a brand new Radeon 9800 Pro. That kicked off a renewed interest in PC gaming and hardware that's still going strong. These days I shop elsewhere for that stuff, but in the years when I was buying midrange hardware those extended warranties helped me out quite a bit.
posted by autodidact at 9:10 AM on January 17, 2009


Retail is (among other things) all about maximizing the use of your retail space. The last few times I was in a CC, I was stunned at how much open, wasted space there was.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:13 AM on January 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ain't nothing wrong with giving shithead teenagers their passive agression right back. I'm sure it wounds them to the core.

I do not share your certainty.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:16 AM on January 17, 2009


For some reason, I still read "Radio Shack" whenever I see the sign for "The Source by Circuit City", which is not a stupid, classic example of asinine committee thinking at all. That name sticks like glue I tells ya!
posted by autodidact at 9:20 AM on January 17, 2009


Once upon a time, my "nearby" places to get electronic crap were: Best Buy, CompUSA, Circuit City, Ultimate Electronics.

CompUSA: gone.
Circuit City: now gone.
Ultimate Electronics: nice people, great if you want to buy zillion-dollar speakers, less so in my price range. Also: no computer tchotchkes beyond maybe a thumb drive or two. (Also part two: they're no stranger to bankruptcy court themselves.)

Best Buy is now the Last Box Standing. Ugh. Now if something vital breaks, or I need a particular cable now, I have to brave the BB experience. Or, I make a moderately convoluted drive across town to our one MicroCenter location. (At which point, somebody will chime in to say how much they hate MicroCenter.) Or, I try to remember if Target or Wal-Mart, or even Home Depot will carry item X in their limited selection.

Or, I can realize that I'm ordering online more and more, live with a day or two delay, and quit whining about it.

Original point being, it's one ridiculous situation to have five big boxes around that suck. It's a different situation to have only one big box nearby that sucks in five different ways.
posted by gimonca at 9:34 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've also taken to buying simple, basic computer crap at CostCo, along with the side of beef or the 55-gallon drum of creamed corn.
posted by gimonca at 9:40 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Former) Circuit City CEO Richard Sharp at a press conference on DIVX, a "pay-per-view disposable" DVD format invented by Circuit City and a law firm, speaking about the (new) standard DVD format:

"Early adopters do take some risk, it's regrettable..."
posted by jca at 9:46 AM on January 17, 2009


Wow! I didn't even know Sharper Image had folded. Not that I care. They always sold stuff that said: Hey! You don't really need me. You don't even know what I am. I look cool and overpriced, besides...you can't afford me anyway!
posted by doctorschlock at 9:49 AM on January 17, 2009


Can't stand them. They pissed me off so much the last time I was in there I promised the manager I'd never set foot in his store again, and I was a business customer with the potential to drive a lot of sales. I feel bad for the employees, but it was clear to anyone with their eyes open from a year ago to the last few months that some retailers would crash and burn. Doesn't surprise me this one did. They've been on their way since they declared bankruptcy.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:51 AM on January 17, 2009


The Circuit City liquidation is being run by the nefarious Gordon Brothers, the jerks behind the liquidations of CompUSA, Sharper Image, Tweeter, and, most recently, Linens N' Things.

Related: World Market (where I've flushed away a lot of disposable income in dibs and dabs) is closing all stores in my area. The day after the announcement went out, but before the official STORE CLEARANCE!!! banners went up, lots of stuff in the store was way marked down, including things that normally don't go on sale, extra markdowns at the register that weren't on the signage, great deals all around. I stocked up.

I go in a week later, the STORE CLEARANCE!!! banners are everywhere....and items that I had bought at 50% off the previous week are back to full price. Lots of other stuff is now on a dinky 10% markdown.

Vulture shoppers didn't care--the place was the busiest I've seen it in a long time. Even in the separate wine/beer shop, where there were no markdowns at all.

This was all going on across the freeway from a now wheezing and dying Circuit City, and a block away from the dried-up husks of Linens-n-Things and CompUSA (right next door to each other, in fact).

It looks like going out of business is the growth industry these days.
posted by gimonca at 9:57 AM on January 17, 2009


Frankly, I hope one of the effects of the recession/depression is to thin out the big box stores in a big way. It's like a huge, hulking reminder of what overconsumption looks like at the retail level. Malls are bad enough. Big boxes are consumption stripped down to warehouses, sprawling parking lots and terrible service. I can't see how they survive in their current form, spreading like herpes along the freeways of so many cities, dependent on cheap credit and lots of expendable income that is vanished.

But let's keep Costco, OK?
posted by krinklyfig at 9:57 AM on January 17, 2009


gimonca: This was all going on across the freeway from a now wheezing and dying Circuit City, and a block away from the dried-up husks of Linens-n-Things and CompUSA (right next door to each other, in fact).

I didn't even have to look at your profile to know exactly which stores you were talking about. What's striking is that it's not a bad general area for retail -- Rosedale does brisk business even on an afternoon in the middle of the week. It's a confluence of poor immediate location, poor circumstance and poor management.

That said, the wife and I are truly bummed about losing World Market.
posted by nathan_teske at 10:20 AM on January 17, 2009


Oh, and Circuit City was absolutely the worst offender when it came to hard-selling worthless "extended warranties". They've basically shown nothing but contempt for their customers throughout their history in a number of ways. They deserve this completely.

haha, let me assure you those weren't worthless at all if you knew your way around them. I remember always getting them with the 11x17 epson inkjet printers I bought while in college. these epsons usually would crap out after a couple hundred high-quality prints and produce fine lines across all your work that you couldn't get rid off. being a graphic design student I would run through them at a rate of one every other term. at that point I would just take it, bring it back to the store and pick up a new one right then and there. when discontinued the model I had purchased they gave me the newer model without as much as batting an eye. I know photography students that ran through north of ten printers with minimal cost this way.

so hey, perhaps the creative student community is to blame for their downfall but I honestly suspect it was just another good old corporate fuck-up.. they store folks were mostly useless kids en par with the kinkos night shift around the corner, so I kinda feel for them.
posted by krautland at 11:05 AM on January 17, 2009


Circuit City, lessee, that was the one that fired all their higher paid workers in order to fund a giant bonus for the board and CEO, right?

Fuck 'em.
posted by sotonohito at 11:29 AM on January 17, 2009


The unfortunate thing about Circuit City's demise is that Best Buy is worse.
posted by oaf at 11:47 AM on January 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Joe Beese: "... proposing Best Buy as a replacement is some kind of cruel joke. If Circuit City was a "10" in unpleasant shopping, Best Buy takes it to the proverbial 11. I can think of no other shopping chain where I am so invariably made to feel like a criminal the moment I walk through the door. "

Uh huh. The whole shoplifting bounty thing brings out the inner jackass in the employees. I had one who followed me around for several minutes, doing this ridiculous "hyena cranes neck above tall grass" stalking routine from an aisle over. If anywhere closer sold ink jet cartridges, I'd go there. As it is, I just settle for walking around the store with whatever merchandise I've got held chest high, away from my body, lest I get jumped by the blueshirt Stasi.
posted by mph at 12:42 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


oaf: The unfortunate thing about Circuit City's demise is that Best Buy is worse.

Are they? I've always considered Circuit City to be the less pleasant, more expensive cousin of Best Buy. They had decent deals sometimes but not as often, and stuff that wasn't on sale was usually more expensive than at their competitors. They participated in the standard electronics store shenanigans (bait-and-switch, ridiculously expensive cables, extended warranty hell) at least as much as anyone else.

I'm not happy to see them go, more stores meant more of an opportunity to get something cheap without having to resort to the internet, and more competition is always good. But I'm not really surprised, either. They were always my last choice, to be checked only when Best Buy and CompUSA (before it died) were either overpriced or didn't have what I wanted.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:45 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The tangential, obligatory: Radio Shack Onion Article.
posted by and for no one at 1:00 PM on January 17, 2009


I wonder whether this means they're going to have to lay off Chuck soon, just for believability purposes.
posted by markkraft at 1:38 PM on January 17, 2009


Circuit City, lessee, that was the one that fired all their higher paid workers in order to fund a giant bonus for the board and CEO, right?

Fuck 'em.


I don't get this mentality at all. The CEOs probably kept most of their money and same said employees all just lost their jobs. We're cheering this?

I would have been a lot happier if someone stepped in and restructured what was clearly a failing company. I don't really cheer when shitty big-box merchandising is likely to become even more consolidated now because a salesperson was rude to me once.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:51 PM on January 17, 2009


XQUZYPHYR writes "I would have been a lot happier if someone stepped in and restructured what was clearly a failing company. I don't really cheer when shitty big-box merchandising is likely to become even more consolidated now because a salesperson was rude to me once."

This is not a zero-sum game. I'm not sure that the goal should be a wide variety of big box merchandising. These stores weren't even around in the '80s, and people still bought plenty of computers, televisions and audio equipment. We don't have to be all that sentimental about a failed company or business model, and in this business climate the odds of a buyout of a failing tech retailer aren't great. Sure, help the people, but I don't see a need to help Circuit City, per se. Trying to prop up every failing business right now isn't realistic anyway, and it wouldn't help.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:28 PM on January 17, 2009


Why is this a good post for Metafilter?

Yeah, seriously. Where do you get off forcing me to read this post and then comment? I MEAN, WHAT GIVES, hypersloth?
posted by grubi at 9:20 PM on January 17, 2009


You know, it's not even a real city. Cities are legally defined governments with delegated powers from the state to enforce local municipal law and provide utilities such as sanitation or housing, transportation, and enforce land utilities. There's no integrated social relationship going on in those stores. And I certainly don't see a high population density and an urban milieu there.

People in red shirts, sure, but that's not social complexity. A city functions as the specialized organ of social transmission. It accumulates and embodies the heritage of a region, and combines in some measure and kind with the cultural heritage of larger units, national, racial, religious, human. On one side is the individuality of the city - the sign manual of its regional life and record. On the other are the marks of the civilization, in which each particular city is a constituent element.
Whereas 'Circuit City' is just monstro t.v.'s n' shit.

I'm just sayin'

"If Circuit City was a "10" in unpleasant shopping, Best Buy takes it to the proverbial 11. I can think of no other shopping chain where I am so invariably made to feel like a criminal the moment I walk through the door."

An old buddy of mine I grew up with was a stellar thief. I mean, miraculous. Thieving wasn't my thing, but if I were going to be a thief, I'd be Johnny. Guy could steal at all levels, big, little, middle. He could sneak or shoplift or do bold stuff. I mean, he kind of had to steal, he was dirt poor (I wasn't well heeled growing up, but I mean, government cheese would be a step up for Johnny). Wearing tight shorts and a tank top he stole 4 frozen pizzas from a gas station in August. One of those tiny gas stations without plumbing where you can barely turn around between the gum and the wiper fluid and the register guy watches you like a hawk. The guy had gifted light fingers is what I'm saying.
He walked into Best Buy - and understand, Johnny looked like a thief, I mean like you'd see in a Michael Mann movie, used phrases like 'merch' even when he'd lift candy bars, he was that into it - grabbed a price ticket off a T.V., picked the T.V. up, walked back to the guy at the front, told him he wanted to return the T.V., guy directed him to the returns counter, returns counter guy asked if he had the receipt and why he was returning it, Johnny said he didn't have the receipt, but the price had changed and he wanted the difference. Yelled at the guy. Got a manager involved. Mid-argument he said "ok, the hell with it, I'm not shopping here anymore" and walked out of the place with an expensive t.v. that he didn't have when he came it.

That's a preface to my big box store story - I went into Circuit City once (once). Now I look like Howie Long if he worked for the FBI. You can set your watch to my haircut. And I'm in a suit and just picking something up on the way to drop off one of my kids (baby) at my mom's house so I can take care of something. I'm in a bit of a hurry, so I'm marching around. I notice people following me (because - I *notice* people following me). Not really insulted. I wrote it off as a 'pretend like you're working' thing, business seemed slow. Well, the layout of the place is stupid. And even though they're following me, no one's saying "Can I help you?" Which does, actually, irritate me. But I find what I need and kids being kids, she puts something in her overalls when I'm not looking and we get stopped at the door. Or rather, the beeper goes off and I don't ignore it and come back to the counter to see if I've got a sensor sticker stuck to my shoe or something. Well, it turns into a big problem, finally I see that my daughter has secreted something (I forgot what, ink cartrage or something) so I pull it out and put it on the counter. I'm pressed for time so I begin to get ready to go. Manager takes the cart (my daughter is in) and says he's going to see if she has anything else on her.
I can shout when I really want to. Roar actually. And that's what I did. I said "No you're not!" And made everyone in a 10 foot radius crap their pants. Well it got down to either I stomp the hell out of the kid in my way at the door or I wait for the cops. I opted for waiting for the cops (called my mom, etc. - pissed me off more because they're not supposed to detain you). So the weaselly manager knows this is going south as soon as I address the responding officers as "Mike" and "Jim" and they respond "Hi, Smed."
Well, the dufus actually said he did want to undress my kid to check for merchandise and that pretty much destroyed his credibility. But I never got over being hassled that way. Maybe the guy had a chip on his shoulder or something. Turned me off all the big box stores though. I hate the smarmy, false "Hello" at the door. The "Can I help you?" when you know they can't. All of it.
Got a local computer supply and electronics store I go to, I won't go anywhere else. Hell, I'd drive out to Abt before I hit one of those chains. At least my kids can see fish and stuff.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:12 AM on January 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Yeah, these are the guys who thought it would be a great idea to fire 3400 of their highest paid floor staff (i.e. the people actually making sales and hence sales bonuses) to save money. Dumb as a box of rocks.


I would have been a lot happier if someone stepped in and restructured what was clearly a failing company. I don't really cheer when shitty big-box merchandising is likely to become even more consolidated now because a salesperson was rude to me once.


As krinklyfig mentioned, this business model is supported by unsustainable lifestyles and debt - which are going to disappear, and this retail category will disappear along with it.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:06 AM on January 18, 2009


Circuit City used be a very innovative company; it's only been in the past 15 years or so of its 50+ year existence that things have turned sour for them. Remember, Circuit City deployed some of the first point-of-sale technologies like barcode scanners and computerized cash registers to track sales and commissions. They also created CarMax.

Here's a good article from the local Style Weekly about Circuit City's rise and fall, for anyone who's interested.
posted by armage at 7:19 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


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