R.I.P. CompUSA

posted by Jeff | Monday, December 10, 2007, 10:12 AM | comments: 4

Well, it had a good run, but CompUSA was bought by a private equity firm that intends to shut it down. I don't understand how that works exactly. Usually a PE company buys something to get a return on it. How do you do that by shutting it down?

I have a few good memories here and there of the company. I worked there before my first full-time radio gig, and after I lost that gig. I was there for the Windows 95 launch. My total time there, counting the break, was barely a year, but it wasn't horrible. Stephanie worked there for I think a year and a half when she started grad school.

When I got laid-off in 2001, we actually bought the Xbox and Gamecube there. My first Pentium-based PC came from there, as well as my first decent printer.

Perhaps the only thing I really feel bad about is that Al, the GM that Steph and I both worked for at various points, is out of a job after at least 12 years or so. He was kind of a grumpy bastard, but at the same time someone you liked working for.

The company made a lot of really catastrophically bad decisions. They had a corporate direct sales division, with reps in every store, and they just shut it down one day even though it was making an assload of money for most stores. (Sidebar: The dudes at my store thought they were better than us floor monkeys, but the truth is that we still made more money than them, and did more volume.)


Coasterguts, December 11, 2007, 2:43 AM #

A private equity company, in this case Gordon Brothers and their subsidiary DJM Realty buys the merchandise currently in the store for pennies on the dollar, then closes the stores and makes their money by selling the stuff that is worth buying at full retail price (or with a 10% markdown initially). In the end when the stuff that is not worth anything is being sold at 75% off, they are still making a profit. I worked for Computer City when CompUSA bought them, sold most of the stores to Gordon Brothers and closed the stores.

The company should have rebranded the stores when they started to sell electronics (television, dvd players etc..), they didn't do that. They owned the Good Guys name and should have changed over to that name. In the end, it was hard for them to shake the image of being a computer store. The sales staff at the stores in the D.C. area were pathetic at best and how you close five stores in the D.C. area and keep two open in Baltimore is beyond me. The bottom line, they couldn't keep up with Best Buy and Circuit City who squashed them in terms of service and product assortment. It's hard to believe Best Buy could beat anyone on customer service but they made it a art compared to CompUSA in the D.C. area.

On a good note... Micro Center move into one of the CompUSA stores recently and they are welcome with open arms.

Jeff, December 11, 2007, 3:12 AM #

Micro Center is such a dump, but they've got such great prices and they have the kind of people CompUSA used to have, nerds without skills to get a "real" job. :) If I didn't switch to Mac, I'd have fun buying pieces parts there.

Coasterguts, December 11, 2007, 6:16 PM #

Micro Center is rolling out a new layour for their stores. The new one in Rockville, MD is quite nice (at least for now). Each brand and model number of motherboard has a bin. They are now matching NewEggs prices I believe on memory and I think graphics cards (in store). A dump isn't a word that I would descibe this store. However, each store is different. I know Wal-Marts that make Macy's look bad, however, the one in my hometown make Big Lots or another disorganized store look good. However, for parts, I still shop NewEgg for motherboards etc...

Jeff, December 11, 2007, 7:21 PM #

NewEgg sure did come out of nowhere, and I've probably spent thousands with them in the last three or four years. Amazing pricing aside, they're so efficient at shipping that you nearly always get stuff faster than promised, which is why I think people love them.

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