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Businesses The Internet Technology

Circuit City Is Coming Back (arstechnica.com) 84

Following a tease of a CES announcement, current Circuit City CEO Ronny Shmoel confirmed on Monday that something called Circuit City will arrive as "a new, more personalized online shopping experience" starting February 15. The announcement even included promises of AI-driven recommendations fueled by IBM's Watson platform, plus unexplained "augmented reality" and "search by photo" features. Ars Technica reports: Curiously, Shmoel also promised "real-time tech support via video chat," but it's unclear whether this feature will include two-way video feeds -- and, thus, whether Circuit City is prepared for a deluge of Chatroulette-caliber video surprises from trolls. This online Circuit City rebirth may very well actually come to exist, as Shmoel claims that the company has put together a fully fledged inventory and distribution system, with a mix of known electronics brand names and "tier-two and tier-three" names (Shamsung? Panafauxnoic?). The same cannot be said for its CES tease of eventual brick-and-mortar showrooms in the neighborhood of 8,000-10,000 square feet, however. Shmoel already backtracked on similar showroom promises in 2016, and his CES pronouncement of future shops included no hard confirmations of locations or dates. But for anybody who dares to dream, Circuit City's showroom design partner, Taylored Group, released a concept render of its store vision which looks like a Radio Shack as if rendered in a Taiwanese hot-take news video.

Circuit City Is Coming Back

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  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday January 11, 2018 @05:52PM (#55911465)
    That's not really a come back, anymore than the Atari box is a come back. They're just using the name to get some press. Worked too.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11, 2018 @06:23PM (#55911629)

      Circuit Blockchain City would have been better.

      • You bastard! If you weren't posting as AC I'd burn every Funny mod point I have!
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Yup, brilliant.

          I'm not the OP, but some of us have been lurking as A/C's for a long time, since it became less of a community.

          I've been here since it was Chips & Dips, but rarely login anymore, for that reason.

      • Need a .ai domain, too...
      • by vux984 ( 928602 )

        Or Blockchain City. Or maybe just lose circuit city entirely and call it "Blockchain! Blockchain! BLOCKCHAIN!!!"

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

      Maybe they will bring back those shitty Divx players [wikipedia.org] that killed them last time.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      A website is all that us needed to keep people parts all over the USA.
      Find your parts needed online. When ready get them shipped for that project.
      A person asks for 10, 100 sets of parts to be shipped for a project that needs 15 parts.
      The project is made, a video uploaded. The how to order list is included so fans can place the same order.
      Fans can then request the extra parts direct from the person who made the video. Shipped out to fans as a set of parts with instructions.
      Dont want to build a projec
      • A website is all that us needed to keep people parts all over the USA.

        You keep parts of people? Sounds a little messy to me...

        • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
          The messy part would be opening shops all over states than demand $15 an hour min wages.
          A website and quality delivery from a state with more realistic min wage can avoid all the other city and state wage costs around the USA.
          The more a shop in a city has to accept a minimum wage to $15 an hour the more a well located national website can pass on savings for the same parts.
          All the parts needed, in stock ready to ship. No need for local prices to cover a $15 an hour worker.
          Warehouse with robots getting
    • I went to Menards (local hardware store like Lowes/Home Depot). They had some cheap as dirt lowend chinese tablets by: Polaroid and Packard Bell.

    • Yes but their web services are state of the art.

  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Thursday January 11, 2018 @06:00PM (#55911503)
    ... they could just open good stores. That's something they've never tried before. I would much prefer buying my electronics at a physical store.
    • Just curious... What do you mean by "good stores"?

      I live in a major metropolitan are and we have a number of electronic stores here. In no specific order, we have Apple Store, Frys, Micro Center, and Best Buy and a couple of specialty retailers selling home theater and professional AV equipment. I think each as strengths and weaknesses. I'm just wondering what you think are the requirements of a "good store".

      • by DogDude ( 805747 )
        I live in a major metropolitan area on the East coast, and all we have is Best Buy and an Apple store (which isn't really an electronics store). Best Buy here stocks next to nothing, and the last time I tried to buy something in there, I was told to come back the next day, because they didn't have anybody who could sell me what I needed (a freezer). We literally have no electronic stores within hundreds of miles.
        • Wow, sounds like an underserved market... So you want a store that carries the item you want so you can buy it NOW.. In your case, a durable home appliance. I'm wondering, did you think to try Lowes or Home Depot at the time? They sell appliances too.

          Best Buy seems to be a bit under staffed here too. Actually, most retailers do around here. However there are at least 4 Best Buy stores within a 5 min drive from me and they always seem full. The issue here though is finding people willing to work retail

        • Why are you buying an appliance at an "electronics" store? Why not go to an actual appliance store who specifically staff people who actually know more information beyond the marketing pamphlet they've memorized about any specific appliance they stock?
  • If they just try the same old thing it will no doubt fail again.
    I have thought it might work to have stores with a smaller storefront area, and mostly warehouse in the back. Do your comparison shopping in front, then press the button beside what you want to buy, and one is brought out for you. Alternately some sort of buy online, and pickup in store today model might work. But it is hard to beat Amazon 2 day shipping.
    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      Back in the day (late 80s, early 90s), there used to be a place called "Best Merchandising" (or something like that). You have recreated their business model. You would go through the store, and write down SKU numbers. You handed the SKU list at the desk, and they would then bring them out of the warehouse in the back.

      • Back in the day (late 80s, early 90s), there used to be a place called "Best Merchandising" (or something like that). You have recreated their business model.

        I have never heard of them, but it is possible a model like that might work for an electronics retailer now. Also we have much better computers now, so some sort of automated purchasing system could be integrated into the store, and made very fast. The big box model obviously no longer works.

      • In my home town, we had 'Consumers Distributing'. You'd leaf through the catalogue (pre-Internet, remember!) and write down the SKUs... then they'd magically come rolling in on a conveyor belt to the cashier.

        They had far too many products to have a reasonably-sized display floor for them, so they just didn't show anything.

        If I were re-creating that business model today, I'd have shoppers pick up a wireless scanner (or let them use their smart phone) and scan barcodes on a display floor (if you have no disp

      • Sounds like Service Merchandise.

      • I remember them. They were what was called a 'catalog showroom'.
    • by Fly Swatter ( 30498 ) on Thursday January 11, 2018 @06:32PM (#55911697) Homepage

      I have thought it might work to have stores with a smaller storefront area, and mostly warehouse in the back.

      Show room warehouses have been done before, Service Merchandise [wikipedia.org] (68 years) and Best Products [wikipedia.org] (40 years) still went out of business around the time of everyone else.

      But there's always a chance a modern one will work.

      • by Kargan ( 250092 )

        We had another localized chain in these parts that did the same thing, called Dolgin's.

        https://dfarq.homeip.net/remem... [homeip.net]

        • by Kargan ( 250092 )

          And I guess the link I posted mentions that Best bought them out. That explains that.

      • You mean like Ikea?
      • Display the thing in an amazing setting - demo it, and sell it to me.
        I'll pick it up in a box from cash wrap, or you can deliver it.
        Fry's has kept part of this element of Incredible Universe alive, to some extent. Buying a motherboard isn't quite the joy it once was, though.
        I never would have bought Fabulous Fred if it weren't for a working demo unit at Best/Service Merchandise/Sterling.
      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        I have thought it might work to have stores with a smaller storefront area, and mostly warehouse in the back.

        Show room warehouses have been done before, Service Merchandise [wikipedia.org] (68 years) and Best Products [wikipedia.org] (40 years) still went out of business around the time of everyone else.

        But there's always a chance a modern one will work.

        You mean like IKEA.

        The GP pretty much described IKEA and about every furniture superstore since. You have set up products in the front showing you what it looks like assembled and then flat packed wardrobes in the back you pick up for cheap. Same with car parts, Euro Car Parts (ECP) in the UK. Tiny store front with practically no merchandise in it and massive warehouse out the back. This business model is quite successful, especially in the age of online ordering. I can order a litre of oil from ECP and

  • ”Shmoel already backtracked on similar showroom promises in 2016, and his CES pronouncement of future shops included no hard confirmations of locations or dates.”

    Well, the name “Future Shop” was already taken... so of course he had problems. /rimshot

  • by Anonymous Coward

    One obvious problem was that they had way too many damn stores, and each store was usually too small.

    They should try the MicroCenter model with only one or maybe two stores in many metropolitan areas.

    • Microcenter basically IS what radio shack used to be, to a very large extent. Yes, way way incredibly wayyyy back they were an actual electronic component shop, but that's back in the stone ages. Microcenter has some of that stuff too.
  • Like Monkey Ward (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Circuit $#!++y will come back just to the same extent Montgomery Ward has been back for the past few years.

  • "Can I help you?". NO. For the last time. Leave. Me. Alone.

  • Last I heard, Circuit City as a brand/company is owned by the Systemax Group which includes Infotel and Tiger Direct. So either they sold it off or this is a Tiger Direct Walmart basically.
  • IMHO, the only way something like this could succeed against Amazon or Walmart is if they scored exclusivity with certain brands and product lines.

  • I'll have another option for places to not shop.

  • Circuit City was about one step above Crazy Eddies. The salesmen on the floor were the worst group of sales bros I've ever seen.

  • They'll be competing with Radio-Shank.
  • screw them. They often advertised "WinModems" (software) as real modems and included pictures of real modems with DIP switches in their ads even though the modems they sold didn't have them. They charged many of our customers restocking fees for those fake modems. They need to just die.

  • If you are going to bring back old brands, bring back good ones. Circuit City was pretty much same as Best Buy, what's the point of duplication?

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