mad anthony

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

Monday, December 10, 2007

Goodbye, CompUSA...

There have been a bunch of rumors going around on various consumer blogs and deal sites that CompUSA would be closing the rest of it's stores, and now it has been confirmed - they are selling to a liquidator, and the stores will be closed in the next month or so. It does look like the online segment may remain around if they can find a buyer.

I'm disappointed, but not shocked. I've gotten some great deals at CompUSA over the years, including a $200AR desktop computer that is my primary machine (from one of their midnight madness sales). I've gotten a bunch of free after rebate stuff, much of which I've resold for a profit. And ever since they moved their rebates to electronic online eRebates where you don't have to mail anything in, they have been one of my favorite places to buy items with rebates.

And anytime you lose a player in a retail segment, it means less competition, and that means fewer deals. Fewer stores competing is never good for the customer. CompUSA was also unique in that it carried a much wider line of computer accessories, peripherals, ect, which was good if you needed something oddball or specific and you needed it now. Prices weren't always the best, but you can't beat the convenience - there was one right up the road from me in Towson, MD, a short drive away.

The problem is that most people don't need an oddball item, and those who do don't usually need it now - they can usually order it online and get a better price, and have it at their doorstep in a couple days.

For the more common stuff, there are tons of stores selling it. These days, every retailer sells technology stuff, including computers. You can buy a router at Staples or Office Depot. Sure, they will only carry a couple major brands, and a couple popular models in each. CompUSA would carry the whole line for the big guys - DLINK, Belkin, Linksys, Netgear - plus a bunch of oddball brands like Hawking, Zyxtel, Trendnet, USRobotics. But most people don't need such a wide selection, and those who do are more likely to go online for their shopping.

And as for computers, you can buy those anywhere too - even Wal-Mart, or grocery stores like Aldi. Plus, a major chunk of computer shopping has gone online to players like Dell. The opening of Apple stores probably haven't helped CompUSA's Mac business, either.

The other problem with CompUSA is they never really knew what they were. As computers became more commodities, they tried to move into other consumer electronics - video games, flat panel TV's and DVD players. The problem was twofold - due to the size of their stores, they would never have the selection of a Circuit City or Best Buy, and because of their name, nobody would go there thinking TV. Unless they had a super-great deal, there wasn't a whole lot of reason to buy a TV from CompUSA when you could go to a store that specialized in consumer electronics and have a much bigger selection.

Going out of business sales always hold the possibility of good deals - but seldom do. When CompUSA closed half their stores last year, most of the reaction I read online was that the deals were disappointing. Markdowns were slow, and by the time they were big, everything decent was gone.

I would love to see something techno come in when CompUSA closes around here - several others have become MicroCenters, and while MicroCenter isn't a great place for deals, it is a nifty place to have around for geeky stuff like buying motherboards and cases. I would love to see a Fry's - the West Coast chain with a reputation for crazy deals and oddball stuff - but since their closest store is in Chicago, I wouldn't count on it.


Post a Comment

<< Home