mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

I wonder how much longer I'll have a CompUSA to shop at...

Compusa is closing half of it's stores. The stores that are closing have disappeared from their store locator on their site.

Luckily for me, the store I usually shop at in Towson is one of the ones that was spared - although the Springfield, NJ store I would visit when at my parents is one of the ones getting the ax, as is the Glen Burnie, MD store I've shopped at a few times.

But I'm guessing that the reimaining 103 stores might not be around much longer either. Companies that are retrenching, that are closing over half their stores usually aren't in good shape, and there is a pretty good chance they might give up for good.

Which is too bad. The more stores that are around, the more competition, the more sales, the more deals - lower prices and more selection is good for consumers.

I've gotten some good deals at CompUSA in the past. Back in 2001 or so, I would go there pretty much every Sunday to get the free after rebate stuff advertised on their back page of their weekly ad. I bought my first DVD player there - a very hackable Apex 3201 for $49 after rebate. I bought my first flat panel - a 19" Kogi, thanks in part to a gift card I won from an in-store "price is right" type contest. Heck, I bought the computer I'm on right now - a $200AR Cisnet Celeron 3.06 from one of their midnight madness sales (it came with a crappy printer I sold on eBay for $25 and a CRT I gave my old landlord when I moved). Last year they paid me $20 for an XM
radio that I sold on eBay for $40, thanks to duplicate rebates.

But they haven't had as many good deals as they used to, although they have had some. But I think the biggest problem is that they have a lot of operating issues. Their stores tend to be old, dirty, ratty - I think the Towson store still has a big Prodigy logo on the front door. Their staff isn't always helpful, and often has no idea what's advertised in the circular. They do a horrible job with clearance or moving old merchandise - unlike Best Buy, which wholesales it's old stuff, or Staples, which keeps marking down stuff until the prices get stupidly low and customers go out of their way to find the reimaing stock, CompUSA tends to mark things down a couple dollars and let them sit around until they are well past obsolete. I'm not a huge fan of Best Buy - their prices are high, they don't offer rebates, and they've even stopped discounting their open box stuff and instead offer a gift card with purchase - but they know how to run a business - they create exciting stores, keep them up to date, move inventory. CompUSA never can seem to figure out if it wants to be an electronics store or a computer store or if they want to attract geeks looking for the obscure or newbies looking for their first machine.

Closing the stores may help in the short term, but in the long term CompUSA needs to change their business model to figure out who they want to serve and serve them, and they need to get their stores and inventory systems up to snuff.


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