Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Circuit City DOWN!

Yeah, I'm sure by now you've heard of the decline of the great Circuit City.

I'd been reading the past few days about how Circuit City stores have been packed to the walls with consumers taking a great advantage of the liquidation sales, the last blood spurts from a dying beast. I took the opportunity to go to three Circuit City sites over the past two days, and I must say, I was not impressed.

First observations were that the sales didn't exceed 30%. 10% on computer software and hardware, 20% on CDs & DVDs, and some smattering of 30% offers on electronics - the TVs, DVD players, computers ...

Stop right there.

I found a hard drive selling for $900, pre-sale. And based on what the CPU was offering and loaded with, I thought that $900, even with 30% discounted, was pretty damn steep. The discount, as I calculated it with the numbers I was given, would make the comp around $700; a quick check online and at the mecca for electronics in this day and age - Best Buy - revealed that the computer was going for +/- $700 right off the shelf. So, the dying beast of Circuit City was offering a "sale" that was probably about the equivalent of what they were selling this same computer for about a month ago. Dickheads.

Now, granted, this is nothing new to me. I'm a big fan of Deep Discount's annual 20% sale, and most of the merchandise is marked up so that Deep Discount doesn't lose too much on the deal ... but there's at least still some gain for me, the erstwhile customer.

No surprise, then, that the aisles of all three Circuit Cities were as barren as Phyllis Diller's cooter. Even the DVD section offered no solace; there were no interesting box sets to score deals on, and even the "deluxe editions" of recent films like Hellboy II and Iron Man were nowhere to be found. Oop, scratch that, I found a copy of the 3-disc Iron Man set ... marked up from its usual $24.99 to $29.99, and selling for 20%. Hmmm ... $23.99; a whole fucking $1.00 off.

I remember back in the days when Circuit City first hit Johnson City, with its low prices on electonics and CDs. And when DVDs started flooding the market, it was a great place to go when you wanted to just browse, because there was a fantastic chance that at least one of two things would happen:

1) You'd stumble upon some obscure film that had somehow crept into inventory, and when you found it, you had the perfect impulse buy (a lot of my early horror film and kung fu movie purchases were made this way); and/or

2) You'd see a film you wanted to get your hands on, but the price was a bit questionable; you'd dig into the stack of other copies of said film, and you'd find one marked at a good 10-25% decrease than the first one you came across.

Only thing I walked away with, following my Circuit City excursions, was one copy each of Spaceballs and Office Space (my earlier copy being a casualty of my separation). I have cultivated a list of around 300+ assorted films on DVD that I look for at any given time ... of those films, those were the only two that were on the shelves. I speculate that the box sets, the deluxe editions, etc., were already picked clean by exiting CC staff, or might just have been hauled into the stock room to be shelved when the sales went from 30%-50%, where they can then be marked up by about 40-50%. As we all know, when you're liquidating assets, it's never to late to make a profit.

So, yeah, fuck you Circuit City. I hardly knew ye, with your poorly laid out design and your haphazard displays, along with your poorly trained and ill-prepared staff that could answer any questions about upgrading computer systems when I needed them the most. As long as this doesn't mean that Best Buy will now become "Worst Buy," I shan't mourn your passing.


Ron said...

The key is the return trip. I once worked with a guy who had went through a liquidation when he was with Service Merchandise. The first two weeks are geared to make as much profit as you can (since the liquidator, essentially paid Circuit City for the merchandise and fixtures in the store). The two weeks after that are when things start to get dirt cheap, assuming they are still on the shelves. The liquidators all have policies against hiding things in the stockroom (because they want to make the most cash and they have no loyalty to a person who will lose their job in four weeks anyway), so if they are holding something it will be hidden in another part of the store. I went to one of the CCs that closed during the first round during week 3 and found a nice, shiny new copy of Lego Batman for the PC hidden amongst the PS2 Greatest Hits. Got it for 50% off.

I have every intention of buying a good TV from them if I can find one and at the right price.

Rev. Joshua said...

When CompUSA went into liquidation I was pretty excited about the idea of dirt cheap computer parts, but apparently a common tactic for liquidators of high-demand electronics stores is to jack the "original" price up and then add discounts bringing the price down to what you would normally expect if the store wasn't going out of business. I guess they expect idiots to see "40% off" and shit their pants instead of doing the math.

Jake Palumbo said...

I was originally drawn to Circuit City when I first moved to JC (the urban metropolis of Morristown did not have one). I regularly bought 1-3 CD's a week back then (ahhh the days) and I was pleasantly taken aback to find that Circuit City sold their CD's for $13.99 as opposed to the $16.99-$18.99 other retailers were charging. (What does a retail disc cost now, anyway?) They also carried indie releases instead of just mainstream stuff. Therefore Circuit City then got all my business until...they opened a Best Buy right across the street, shortly before I moved to NY.

However, I do feel that their inevitable and eminent end was slow-cooked and well-deserved. And yes, their staff were pretty well between "re" and "tards."