Fry’s Electronics Has Fizzled Out Completely

San Jose Fry's Electronics

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.

Burbank Fry’s electronics [Image source: Bryce Edwards CC-BY 2.0]
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]

119 thoughts on “Fry’s Electronics Has Fizzled Out Completely

  1. I will miss them but they’ve been on a decline since 2017. I shopped at the very first Fry’s Electronics on Oakmead Parkway, it was a one-stop-shop for the local nerds, 1/3 integrated circuits and components, 1/3 computers and home electronics, 1/3 drugstore items for nerds.
    The larger store that replaced the original store had a you are inside the electronic device theme. The floor looks like a giant circuit board, there were 3 ft disc ceramic capacitors at the end of every shelf section and other giant components on the walls and elsewhere in the store.

  2. Midwest Surplus Electronics still lives on. I was just there to and talked to the owner, They are still buying out some shops.
    But they never had a real strong online shop or even one like Radical RC. Both Mom and Pop shop’s. So give them a call or send then an e-mail for that hard to find thing. You never know if you just bought the very last part or an Hp E3610A Lab Power Supply.

  3. “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.”

    There’s a larger story – issue – with Fry’s.

    In San Diego, Fry’s took over what used to be Incredible Universe. Incredible Universe was basically Toys ‘R’ Us on steroids. But they never wanted to be anything more than a fun place to go and shop (or play games).

    When Fry’s came along there, you had basically a clean, but basic, store. If you’ve ever stepped foot into a Best Buy recently, Fry’s had that same generic interior design, but with a significantly larger floorplan – way too large.

    And therein was the problem. IU knew what it wanted to be, but couldn’t profit off of a singular model like that. Fry’s never knew what it wanted to be. Yes, it was a great place to go for computer parts or various electronics, but I remember Fry’s being the first place I ever saw a “videophone” back when those were popular. I’m talking BEFORE what we know of now as common video streaming. But nobody wanted it back then. There was no reason to have it on the shelf in the first place.

    The only thing that made Fry’s stand out to me was that they carried import games, which you can’t find anywhere else.

    Other than that, they turned into a bloated version of Best Buy, in their quest to beat Best Buy. And that was their downfall.

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