What’s old is new again in the world of electronics retailing. After seven years of extinction, Circuit City is getting ready to come back from the dead!
Glory days turn into a rough road for Circuit City
The grandfather of the electronic superstore format, Circuit City first launched as ‘Wards Company’ back in 1949. The Richmond, Va. chain changed its name to Circuity City in 1984 at the same time that it started going national.
From 1984 to 2005, Circuit City grew to become the second largest U.S. electronics retailer after Best Buy. But by 2009, the company’s fortunes had reversed completely and it went out of business.
What happened? The turning point was a few years earlier, in May 2007 to be exact, when the CEO decided to fire experienced employees and managers in order to cut costs. You know the end is near anytime a company sees its people as an expense instead of a money-making asset.
The thing is, retail is entirely self-cleansing. If you don’t meet the needs of your customers, you cease to exist!
Coming back from the dead
When Circuit City went bust in 2009, its brand name, trademarks and e-commerce website were sold to Systemax. Then last year, New York area retail veterans Ronny Shmoel and Albert Liniado acquired the portfolio with an eye toward building the brand back up again.
They’re gearing up to launch their first 6,000-9,000 square foot storefront later this year. (See above for an artist’s rendering of the small-format store.)
In addition, Shmoel and Liniado have relaunched Circuitcity.com and are launching a Circuit City marketplace on Amazon, according to TWICE magazine.
Millennials will be the target market and Circuit City’s new product mix will include pre- and postpaid smartphones, tablets, notebooks, wearables, networking equipment, gaming products, headphones, drones, 3D printers, health appliances and DIY devices.
There will also be store brand USB cables, power banks, digital accessories and other items offered under a variety of private labels such as AudioMate, DigitalMate and Circuit City badges.
No word yet on an exact launch date for the brick-and-mortar version of Circuit City, but the company is currently working with a commercial real estate firm in Dallas to identify a suitable location for their first store.
After that, Shmoel and Liniado are looking forward to having 50 to 100 corporate-owned stores open by the fourth quarter of 2017, with an eye toward eventually rolling out an additional 100 to 200 franchised locations.
3 ways to get the best prices on electronics
Shop on the right browser
Did you know the browser or device you shop on can affect the price you pay? Some major retailers employ ‘dynamic pricing’ to serve different prices based on the browser you shop on. If you’re shopping on a Mac, stores assume you have more expendable income and might be willing to pay more than someone on a PC.
Similarly, the browser itself can affect what you pay. For the best price, try shopping on Chrome, Firefox or on a mobile device. Research shows that desktop Safari and Internet Explorer users can be shown a higher price.
Automatically compare prices as you shop
Chrome, Firefox and Safari offer easy-to-install ‘add-on’ tools that will automatically tell you if the item you’re looking is available cheaper elsewhere. You don’t have to do a thing — while you’re searching/shopping, your browser will pop up a link to where you can get that item at a lower price.
For years we’ve told you about Invisible Hand. Now there’s a new add-on we love called Priceblink that goes a few steps further. It not only compares and links you to stores with cheaper prices, it also compares shipping costs and alerts you if there are any active coupons to apply. Learn more and get the add on here.
Get automatic price adjustments after you purchase
Already bought something at a store that has a price guarantee? Paribus is an app that will automatically issue you a refund if the price drops.
For regular returns, LifeHacker.com has a list of stores that will refund you the difference if you discover a price drop after you buy. Save that receipt and be mindful of the return window, as it varies by store.