Apr 19, 2007

CompUSA Brick & Mortar - Good Riddance!

A few weeks ago, CompUSA announced they were closing over half of their retail stores because of some lame excuse which deflects their true mis-managed reasons. The one closest to me at work is closing. Granted, I haven't stepped foot in one of these stores in a few years, but I had mixed emotions about it. One, walking into a place like that is nothing short of geek porn. The other end of it is that never once has going in there been a good experience.
Being in tech for the years I have, seeing stores open dedicated only to the things in my hobby was awesome back in the day. It's like an avid golfer walking into the pro shop, a comic book collector going into a comic store, or a vegetarian walking... into a field, or something.
There was a CompUSA near me where I worked at the time, and it was a good place. There was a Computer City in Princeton, close enough to where I lived. The prices were high and their employees were idiotic and arrogant, and the two times I was in there, the line for returns was twice as long as the checkout line... I'm not kidding, PLUS it wasn't a holiday season. Then I was psyched when CompUSA bought Computer City... a changeover near home! Nope, same crap.
I started to trust online purchasing, then discovered great prices, and have since built my last two computers, and bought countless gadgets, from online retailers.

Back to present day... they started with 5-15% off. Not great, but hey, a discount is a discount, right? I went in on lunch to find the place fully stocked, and plenty of people walking around... allright, bargain time!!

Holy shit!

They marked up their prices so much (or maybe they were that high to begin with), but who really sells items for the MSRP nowadays? Seriously. I walked the whole damn store, just hoping to find something worthwhile. Nothing. The prices were ridiculously high. I was irritated, but hey, it was the first few days, what did I expect? Plus the store was fully stocked.
OK, I did buy a PC game, Supreme Commander. It was brand new, I wanted it anyway, there was one left on the shelf, and it was $35, with the 10% off. I found it $5 cheaper with free shipping online that night. Oh well, no biggie.

A couple weeks later I went back, and noticed the signs proclaiming "15%-30% OFF Storewide". Nice.
So with renewed vigor I went in. Some of the shelves actually looked lighter. I walked the store again. The expensive stuff? Five percent off. OK, that's not what the sign says out front, bastards! What's 30% off? Well, things like cables or power strips. Irritated, I start heading out.
But what I see along the way are guys (not a woman in sight) with smiles on their faces standing in the checkout line, and walking out with bags of items. HUH??? I spied what these guys were buying and walked back to see what the prices were myself. Hey, there must be bargains here after all. Generally I know prices, and when I found the items, they were all seriously high. I just kind of laughed and left the store, again. These guys are all buying items that are still marked up, yet at a "20% off price!" UGH! It's so easy nowadays to look up comparative prices online... come ON people!!
Case in point... a coworker wanted to see if he could find something over there, and saw the prices were now "20%-40% OFF" blah blah blah. So I went for the ride. This was another two weekends after I had last been there, and the store's shelves were now half empty (or half full in CompUSA's misguided eyes). There was something I had my eye on before, one of the Logitech Harmony remote controls. Now 30% off, but I can STILL get it online for almost $60 less. Laughable... but they'll probably sell them all. Actually, it's brilliant for their bottom line... because it's been so long since anyone's bought anything from their stores, no one knows the prices, so they jack them up to MSRP, then "discount" them... people go ape!! Then they'll sell the shelving systems themselves and walk away from the leases. Huge profits this quarter!

Ehh, have at it. They're late to the party at this point, and they had the opportunity to ingratiate themselves to the market and make some real fans. They blew it, and now after I've seen what they are doing now, you'll never see me shop at their website. I'll just happily shop at Newegg, ZipZoomfly or even Amazon. Their prices are all good, they're trustworthy, and they respect their customers.

I think there's still a display model Pentium III laptop there for $2295 if anyone's interested. Hey, it's 5% off folks!

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