|Founded||May 17, 1985|
Sunnyvale, California, U.S.
|Defunct||February 24, 2021|
|Fate||General assignment, cited reasons were the COVID-19 pandemic and a difficult ever-changing retail environment|
Number of locations
|30 (at the time of closure)|
34 (at its peak in 2019)
|Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Washington|
|John Fry, CEO|
Randy Fry, President
David Fry, CFO / CIO
Kathryn Kolder, Executive Vice President
|Products||Consumer electronics retail|
|Revenue||US$2.3 billion (2018)|
Number of employees
|Website||Archived official website at the Wayback Machine (archive index)|
Fry's Electronics was an American big-box store chain headquartered in Silicon Valley. Fry's retailed software, consumer electronics, household appliances, cosmetics, tools, toys, accessories, magazines, technical books, and computer hardware. Fry's had in-store computer repair and custom computer building services.
On February 24, 2021, Fry's announced the immediate and permanent closure of all of its stores due to the chain ceasing operations. A statement posted on their website cited "changes in the retail industry and the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic."
In 1972, Charles Fry sold the Fry's Supermarkets chain based in California for US$14 million to Dillons. He gave a portion of the proceeds, around $1 million, to each of his sons, John (who had worked as the IT manager for the supermarket chain), W. Randolph (who goes by the nickname "Randy"), and David, none of whom had much interest in grocery-store retailing. Instead, on May 17, 1985, they joined together with a fourth partner, John's former girlfriend Kathryn Kolder, to open the first Fry's Electronics store at a 20,000 sq ft (1,900 m2) site in Sunnyvale, California. Today, Fry's Food and Drug stores are owned and operated by Kroger, and are not affiliated with Fry's Electronics, although they have similar logos.
John's idea was to use the model of grocery retailing, with which the brothers were familiar, to sell computer and electronics supplies. The original Sunnyvale store (located near the intersection of Oakmead Parkway and Lakeside Drive) stocked numerous high-tech supplies such as integrated circuits, test and measurement equipment, and computer components, as well as software and various other types of consumer electronics. The store was one of the few retail outlets in the country that sold off-the-shelf microprocessors, such as the Intel 80286. The store also sold T-shirts, technical books, potato chips, and magazines, including Playboy. At first, roughly half the store was stocked with groceries, including fresh produce, but the groceries section quickly diminished to displays of soft drinks and snack foods. The store billed itself as "The One-Stop Shop for the Silicon Valley Professional", as one could buy both electronics and groceries (computer chips and potato chips) at the same time. Most components from most OEMs, were available for purchase, to assemble a desktop computer, à la carte.
As the business expanded, the original Sunnyvale store closed, and a newer, larger store was opened across Lawrence Expressway on Kern Avenue. The second Sunnyvale store was designed to look like the interior of a giant computer; the walls were adorned with simulated circuit components, and the floor resembled a giant printed circuit board. The exterior was painted to mimic a huge DIP integrated circuit, and the door handles imitated the ENTER and ESC keys on a computer keyboard; since 2007, this store has housed a Sports Basement store (which still bears some of the door-handle keys). Fry's moved again to its final Sunnyvale location on the corner of Arques and Santa Trinita Ave, the former site of a facility of the Link Flight Simulation Division of the Singer Corporation. Each of the Sunnyvale store locations was located within 1 mi (1.6 km) of the others.
In 1996, for reasons that the Fry brothers have never publicly disclosed, they transferred all their shares of Fry's Electronics to a limited liability company called RDL, LLC., controlled by a limited partnership called The Taw, L.P. Since then, they have controlled Fry's Electronics indirectly through those entities. Their existence became publicly known in January 2012 because Randy Fry's ex-wife, Laurie Hammer, had attempted to challenge a divorce settlement agreement under which she agreed to accept "units" of The Taw in settlement of her claims against Randy. On January 23, 2012, the California Court of Appeal for the Sixth District upheld the trial court's dismissal of her lawsuit in an unpublished opinion.
Because Fry's stores were enormous, stocking a wide range of each product category, they were popular with electronics and computer hobbyists and professionals. One of the few stores to challenge Fry's in all dimensions (production selection and store-wide themes) was Incredible Universe, a series of Tandy (Radio Shack) superstores, which were established in 1992 and bought out and converted into Fry's in 1996. Historically, Circuit City and CompUSA were major competitors in the computer space, but they collapsed during the late-2000s recession, leaving Microcenter and Newegg as Fry's main competitors.
In August 2014, Fry's Electronics operated 34 brick-and-mortar stores in 9 U.S. states: California (17), Texas (8), Arizona (2), Georgia (2), and one each in Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
In August 2019, Fry's announced that it would close its oldest extant location in Palo Alto, by January 2020; the company said its lease at the location would not be renewed. On September 10, 2019, The Mercury News reported that customers were finding barren shelves in most stores, speculating that the chain was about to fold; Fry's responded by stating the company was changing to a consignment model with its vendors and was not planning to close any store other than Palo Alto. However, on January 7, 2020, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Fry's location in Duluth, Georgia was shuttered without advance notice during the 2019 holiday season. On February 25, 2020, Fry's announced that they would close their Anaheim location by March 2, 2020. On November 10, 2020, Fry's closed its Campbell location permanently without notice.
On the evening of February 23, 2021, several internet sources began claiming employees were given notice that all remaining stores would close to the public nationwide, with the Frys.com website scheduled to go offline at 12:00 am PST. The company deleted its Facebook page, and set the company Twitter account to protected, hiding all activity. Bay Area broadcaster KRON-TV confirmed the closure later that evening.
The Fry's website closed in the early hours of February 24, only showing a letter informing of its closure. According to the letter, the company will implement the shut down through an orderly wind-down process that it believes will be in the best interests of the company, its creditors, and other stakeholders to maximize the value of the company's assets for its creditors and other stakeholders. The company said those waiting for repairs will be notified how to claim their equipment.
In 1997, Forbes reported on a series of issues about Fry's customer service and unorthodox business practices. Among the allegations was that the company had an internal policy, identified as "the double H" or "hoops and hurdles", to delay or prevent customers from obtaining refunds.
Fry's advertising methods have also gone under heavy fire. In 2003, actors Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, and future California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sued Fry's for $10 million each for posting their images on television sets on their print ads and flyers without permission.
On Black Friday 2007, customers at the Renton, Washington, location complained that Fry's employees were offering to let people cut in front of a long line for a fee. After complaints in the media, Fry's management offered anyone who paid the fee their money back.
In 2008, Fry's vice president of merchandising and operations, Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, was charged by federal prosecutors in an illegal kickback scheme involving Fry's vendors, fueling sales with mail-in rebates. The alleged scheme was designed to defraud the company to cover Siddiqui's gambling expenses. Siddiqui used the funds to supplement his lavish gambling habits in Las Vegas, where he lost about $162 million.
In September 2012, Fry's Electronics agreed to pay $2.3 million and to implement preventive measures to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The settlement was in relation to allegations that an assistant store manager at the Renton store harassed a 20-year-old sales associate by frequently sending her sexually charged text messages and inviting her to his house to drink. After her direct supervisor reported the harassment to Fry's legal department, the company allegedly fired the female salesperson and fired her supervisor for standing up for her.
In 2019, rumors about the chain folding were rapidly spreading, mainly due to much of the shelves remaining empty for long periods of time and seeming to put more of an emphasis on makeup and fragrances than on electronics. Fry's Electronics responded by stating they were just switching to a consignment model, and not closing down entirely. From when Fry's put out this statement until early 2021, four additional stores closed (three of which were in California, and the one in Georgia), which further led much of the public to believe that Fry's Electronics would soon go out of business.
Fry's Electronics was late in establishing an online sales presence. They began offering low-cost Internet access in 2000 through their original Web address "Frys.com". The company later bought e-commerce site Cyberian Outpost in November 2001, and started online sales with a different URL (Outpost.com), which confused customers who did not associate the online name with the brick-and-mortar store. For a time in the mid-2000s, the Web site identified itself as "Fry's Electronics Outpost.com", using dual branding in an attempt to create a connection in visitors' minds. In October 2006, a grand reopening of Frys.com introduced the online store with the same name as the retail outlets. The outpost.com URL now redirects to the Fry's online store.
In 1997, David Peter (or David Peter Burlini), who manufactured and sold French fry vending machines under the business name Frenchy Frys, owned the domain name frys.com, and was also involved in another dispute over the domain newricochet.com with Ricochet Networks. David Burlini attended Santa Clara University around the same time that the Fry Brothers were attending. Fry's Electronics brought suit against him that year, alleging trademark infringement, and ultimately prevailed in a default judgment.
Since then, Fry's Electronics has aggressively tried to defend its trademark and domain names. In 2001, it threatened to sue Garret Maki for scanning and posting the company's print ads on the Web using the domain frysad.com. In 2007, Fry's Electronics lost a domain dispute against Prophet Partners Inc., an online advertising company with thousands of generic and descriptive domain names. The arbitrator dismissed the complaint, which requested transfer of the Frys.us domain, ruling that Fry's Electronics did not have any more right to use the "Fry's" mark than other entities with a similar surname or commercial use of the word.
Various Fry's locations were decorated in elaborate themes. For example, the Burbank store, which opened in 1995, carried a theme of 1950s and 1970s science-fiction movies, and featured huge statues of popular characters such as the robot Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still and Darth Vader from the Star Wars movie series. In addition, giant ants (from the movie Them!) hung from the ceiling, and the bodies of 1957 Chevys and Buicks served as dining tables in the cafe. A flying saucer protruded above the entrance.
Since Fry's acquired six stores from the Incredible Universe chain of stores, the company had reduced the elaborateness of its themes. With the opening of the store in Fishers, Indiana, Fry's made a "race track" theme with various hanging displays, including "stop" and "go" signs, as well as many photos of what life looked like in late 1800s and early 1900s in Indianapolis.
|Phoenix||Arizona||Aztec temple||February 24, 2021|
|Tempe||Arizona||Golf||February 24, 2021|
|Anaheim||California||Space Shuttle||March 2, 2020|
|Burbank||California||1950s science fiction||February 24, 2021|
|Campbell||California||Ancient Egypt||November 10, 2020|
|City of Industry||California||Industrial Revolution / Steampunk||February 24, 2021|
|Concord||California||Regional history||February 24, 2021|
|Fountain Valley||California||Ruins of Ancient Rome||February 24, 2021|
|Fremont||California||1893 World's Fair||February 24, 2021|
|Manhattan Beach||California||Tahiti||February 24, 2021|
|Oxnard||California||Agricultural history||February 24, 2021|
|Palo Alto||California||Wild West||December 27, 2019|
|Roseville||California||Railroads||February 24, 2021|
|Sacramento||California||Gold Rush||February 24, 2021|
|San Diego||California||Aircraft carrier||February 24, 2021|
|San Jose||California||Mayan temple (Chichen Itza)||February 24, 2021|
|San Marcos||California||Atlantis||February 24, 2021|
|Sunnyvale||California||History of Silicon Valley||February 24, 2021|
|Woodland Hills||California||Alice in Wonderland||February 24, 2021|
|Duluth||Georgia||Regional history||December 3, 2019|
|Milton||Georgia||Regional history||February 24, 2021|
|Downers Grove||Illinois||Regional history||February 24, 2021|
|Fishers||Indiana||Automobile racing||February 24, 2021|
|Wilsonville||Oregon||Incredible Universe[clarification needed]||February 24, 2021|
|Las Vegas||Nevada||Las Vegas Strip||February 24, 2021|
|Arlington||Texas||Incredible Universe[clarification needed]||February 24, 2021|
|Austin||Texas||Live music||February 24, 2021|
|Dallas||Texas||Cattle ranch||February 24, 2021|
|Houston||Texas||Oil derricks||February 24, 2021|
|Houston (SW)||Texas||Houston history||February 24, 2021|
|Irving||Texas||Regional history||February 24, 2021|
|Plano||Texas||Railroads||February 24, 2021|
|Webster||Texas||International Space Station||February 24, 2021|
|Renton||Washington||Regional history||February 24, 2021|
The store's lease for the century-old building at 340 Portage Ave. that once served as a cannery is set to expire on Jan. 31.
Showbiz aside, it was serious one-stop shopping with the best prices and selection in town.
The geek-gaws range from silicon chip to potato chips, from Byte to Playboy, and high-speed PCs
Inside the U.S. Senate Chamber's digital audio upgrade.
Sunset Digital is a creative and technical film and video postproduction company specializing in a variety of media and data, and servicing every aspect of the entertainment industry. Garret Maki, VP, New Media for Sunset Digital, supervises the company's DVD division.
Fry's Forum is not affiliated with Fry's Electronics, Inc.