Circuit City, Electronics Retailer, Dead at 59

Back in November, North American electronics retailer Circuit City filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced that more than a hundred of its locations would be closed, in an attempt to restructure the company’s debt load and keep the chain going until a buyer could be found.

Well, apparently that didn’t go according to plan; Circuit City announced today that it would seek permission from the bankruptcy court to switch to a straight-up liquidation of its remaining assets. The 500-plus U.S. stores that survived the November cutbacks will be closed, putting more than 30,000 people out of work. (Apparently the CC-branded stores in Canada will stay open; must be operated by a separate company.)

Circuit City joins a growing list of retail chains (Tweeter Etc., CompUSA, Office Depot) that have taken ill or bought the farm altogether in recent years, killed off by a combination of the generally failing economy, their core business moving online, and, in Circuit City’s case, monumental management screw-ups (e.g., sacking most of their actually-knowledgeable sales staff and replacing them with clueless teenage biscuits straight out of central casting). There is supposedly a nonzero chance that it may live on as an online brand, but I don’t know as I’d bet the ranch on that. It is survived by its chief (and now largely uncontested) competitor, Best Buy.

About Gryphon

In his career - well, not so much a career as a series of interesting but usually ill-advised vocational choices, if we're being honest - Benjamin D. Hutchins has been a tech support grunt, an Internet operations tech, a small-town print reporter, a public relations writer, and a semiprofessional muser upon the random. Now he's working on several books (none of which, just to buck tradition, is the Great American Novel), eyeing the relentless march of personal gadget technology with bemusement and often suspicion, and wondering what's with these kids today, with their clothes and their hair and that stuff they think is music.His first book, Off the Top of My Head: Personal Reflections of a Small-Town Newsman, can be had here or here.
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  • Kevin

    CompUSA did not “buy the farm”. They merged or were bought up (however you want to look at it) by TigerDirect. There is a CompUSA store about 4 miles from me right now. At Tiger’s discretion, many stores were probably boarded up but the company is alive and well under Tiger’s umbrella.

  • Tim

    I feel sorry for the folks that will loose their jobs. But….every time I have ever been in the one by me the selection is poop, they never have what your looking for, and the sales staff almost always treated me like an idiot. Sorry, clueless teenage biscuits straight out of central casting, that’s the wife’s job. The only solution they had when the car alarm wasn’t working was “Your remote is bad, you have to buy one for $75.”. I took it to a small mom and pop shop and they had it fixed in 2 min. for free.
    Last time I bought something over $100 was in 2003. Ehh, what the hell are you gonna do.

  • Gryphon

    Huh, okay. Last I heard anything of CompUSA, it was December of ’07 and they were announcing the imminent liquidation of their physical stores, having been sold to some investment shell company. As they’re now saying about Circuit City, complete with the possible-but-I-wouldn’t-bet-on-it continued existence as an online-only brand.

  • Ryan
  • MegaZone

    I feel bad for those losing their jobs, but I haven’t set foot in a Circuit City since they backed DIVX – the *original* DIVX, the stupid pay-per-use disc competitor to DVD which inspired the codec DivX;-), which is now just DivX. That just tweaked me off so bad I never again felt like shopping there. Of course, it helps that I buy pretty much everything online now anyway.

  • Mick Russom

    Circuit City and CompUSA , and most of these idiot dumps going out of business, are simply obsolete. Carrying volatile inventory, hiring morons (rare to find good help), lots of employee theft (I know , I used to work at CompUSA and saw the theft), prices are terrible, technology is mostly behind the times. Its mostly a giant pile of the stuff you really don’t want.

    I literally hated those stores, even places like Fry’s get on my nerves, I pretty much only ever get what I want from Internet sales where I know the exact model number, the exact return policy, the exact everything. And other people post reviews, and you can ask pre-sales questions and end up with what you want.

    Honestly, laptops, TVs and monitors/LCDs really need a look-at before you buy them and these stores never carry anything good to look at anyways.

    Shopping in general sucks, but its a step worse at places like circuit city.