2020 and all its ills have claimed another stalwart among PC builders and electronics hobbyists: Fry’s announced yesterday that they have closed up shop for good after nearly 36 years in business both as a brick-and-mortar wonderland and an online mecca for all things electronic.
According to Fry’s website (PDF copy for posterity), all 31 stores across nine states were suddenly and permanently shuttered on Wednesday the 24th, citing changes in the retail industry and the widespread difficulties wrought by the pandemic. Signs of the retailer’s growing challenges were seen back in 2019 when the company began shifting toward a consignment model in an attempt to cut overhead and liability.
Sadly, I never set foot inside of a Fry’s though I hear it was an experience beginning with the themed entrances found at many of the locations. Now it seems I never will. Where I live, Microcenter is king, and it has been truly awesome to watch the hobby electronics section expand from a single four-foot panel in a dark corner to the multi-aisle marketplace it is today. I keep imagining that Microcenter suddenly went out of business instead, and it makes me want to cry.
So where can a person go to pick up some quick components now that Radio Shack and Fry’s are no more? Of course there’s the previously mentioned Microcenter, but you should also look for old-school supply stores in your area. They may not have an Adafruit section and they’re probably not open after 5:00PM or on the weekends, but these stores are still kicking and they need us now more than ever. We’ve previously reported on gems like Tanner’s Electronics which sadly closed its doors almost a year ago. Help spread the word about your favorites that are still open in the comments below.
Thank you [Ryan], [John], and [Jack] for tipping us off.
[Main image source: San Jose Fry’s by Bryce Edwards; CC-BY 2.0]