Have you been to Fry’s Electronics lately? If not, I got all the news for you. It is nothing like it used to be in the 1980s and ’90s. Why? You may wonder. The shelves are almost empty, no long queues to the cashier, fewer employees are walking around, and the parking lot is empty too! From the look of it all, Fry’s Electronics could be closing!
Customers are unsure of Fry’s future as they have been posting pictures of the empty shelves on social media. Employees and experts have joined the conversation to blame it on the rise and take over smartphones and stiff competition from Amazon.
It is certain though the company is shutting down its Palo Alto store, they have no plan of quitting the business or shutting its 33 other stores across nine states. However, recent postings on Glassdoor, a job site, has dozens of Fry’s employees lamenting the company.
Fry’s Electronics History
Fry’s Electronics came into existence in 1985, in Silicon Valley. The iconic chain of electronics range from Western to Mayan, and they were stocked with anything and everything electronic: Routers, motherboards, coffeemakers, refrigerators, office furniture, perfume, candy bars, and computers. The stores assumed a techie haven and hangout for anyone.
The first Fry’s Electronics store was in Sunnyvale village. Today there are eight stores in Northern California and nine in Southern California, eight stores in Texas and two stores each in Arizona and Georgia. Other stores like Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington have one store each.
Is Fry’s Electronics closing?
Employees are complaining about the hours they have worked being deducted. Many others are now working part-time. Also, other employees have decided to leave or are actively looking for other opportunities elsewhere.
You will agree with me that being in a state of limbo is devastating. No one is telling you the truth, the future is uncertain, and clearly from where you are standing there is no hope in the situation.
The spokesman for Fry’s Manuel Valerio said the company is not liquidating or shutting down its stores, but switching most of its suppliers to a consignment model.
However, he did not react to the repeated quests! If you are wondering what switching to the consignment model is, I will explain it to you. It merely means that any supplier to Fry’s will only get paid once their goods sell at its stores.
Expert Views and observations
Neil Saunders, the managing director of analytics company GlobalData retail division, says it is a sign of difficulty. “If a retailer cannot afford to pay for a product, then there’s a real necessity to go on to a consignment model because it frees up capital”, he added.
According to Saunders, it is difficult for suppliers to agree to such arrangements. The reason being it is the supplier who assumes all the risk. Retailers often get their cash flow by dragging out payment suppliers.
According to Mark Cohen, the director of retail studies at Columbia University, the consignment model has been used traditionally but with a different goal, high-margins. Also, slow-turning merchandise such as fine jewellery and furs qualify for this model. But, it is a risky affair for consumer electronics since it is a thin-margin business.
Also, “Electronics have an obsolescence factor,” added Cohen. “It is a possibility that Vendors loathe supplying Fry’s with goods because the situation does not look promising,” Said Cohen.
Before the holidays, the company said they were preparing for the break, and their shelves would be full soon after. The holidays happened, but nothing changed, leaving the current employees, customers and experts in a state of limbo.
It seems that Fry’s Electronics is going through changes in their primary business model. They might be changing from the usual approach to business to buying and reselling stock. Big companies like Walmart and Bestbuy use the same approach.
All indicators show that Fry’s is cutting down on liability which also cuts down on losses. The plan does not favor the manufacturers, especially if goods are released but fails. Fry’s Electronics has not admitted to the closing of any of their stores and maintaining the same narrative to the employees.