SAN FRANCISCO — Fry’s Electronics, the go-to chain for tech tinkerers looking for an obscure part, is closing for good.
The company, perhaps even more well known for outlandish themes at some of its stores, from Aztec to “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” said Wednesday in an online posting that the COVID-19 pandemic had made it impossible to continue.
Fans immediately took to Twitter to post images and memories (good and bad).
The chain was concentrated on the West Coast, but had 31 stores — including one in Renton — in nine states. It was founded 36 years ago.
Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData, called it “the end of an era, and a sad day” for an army of loyal customers.
The pandemic has done heavy damage to retailers, but Fry’s was already getting hammered by online competition and a battle between heavy-hitters Best Buy and Amazon.com.
The wild themes became more of a burden than an experience, Saunders said, and when the chain began to struggle, gaps began to appear on shelves in the cavernous stores, making them a shell of what they once were.
“Fry’s was really a business built for the 1980s electronics boom. During that era, it was a gathering place for enthusiasts of an industry that was on fire,” Saunders said. “However, those days have long since gone and now too has an icon that represented them.”
Fry’s Electronics said its operations have ceased and the wind-down of locations will begin immediately. Customers with electronics being repaired in-store are being asked to pick them up.
The chain’s online presence appears largely to have been shut down.