A feeling of disbelief rolled through the Fry’s parking lot in Sunnyvale on Feb. 24. Overnight, the electronics retail chain that started in Sunnyvale announced that it would close immediately.
Outside, customers walked up to the closed warehouse doors and stopped in their tracks.
“They should have contacted people who had orders,” said one customer who had arrived to pick up an online order. “Tell the truth to people. This is totally screwed up.”
Inside, employees gathered, more shocked than anyone. One employee said he’s not surprised — the store’s shelves were empty for a while — but he’s sad to see the place that he’s worked for the last 17 years close.
News that the nationwide retail chain was closing started making the rounds in the late evening on Feb. 23. At midnight, the Frys.com website changed from an online storefront to a simple, one-page letter from management that blamed “…changes in the retail industry and the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Some customers were sad to see the retail chain famed for its funky décor and themed stores close. None of them were surprised.
“I’m surprised they hadn’t closed earlier,” said one customer. “I hadn’t come here for a long time. The other services just [disrupted] this business model. I’m surprised they stayed here as long as they did.”
“There was nothing here last time. The last time I was here, there was absolutely nothing. I mean, there was nothing you could buy…No, I’m not surprised and I’ve heard it on the news,” said Pat.
Pat was one of the many people that stopped by the Sunnyvale location to see for themselves if the news was true and to share that news with their loved ones.
“I have seven children and the two boys were into electronics,” said Pat after snapping a photo of the closed store. “I’m sending this to my son in Portland because he used to love when he lived here in Sunnyvale to go to Fry’s.”
“I heard it on the news too, but I just wanted to confirm,” said one customer. “Almost all my electronic gadgets I buy here…maybe because there’s a lot of online stores already, but I’m surprised because they’re matching it.”
Fry’s opened its first store in Sunnyvale nearly 36 years ago. It was founded by the Fry brothers and eventually grew to 31 stores in several states.
Locally, Fry’s was well known for its themed stores. The Sunnyvale location mirrored the history of Silicon Valley, the San Jose location on East Brokaw Road was a Mayan Temple, and the Campbell store on Hamilton Ave. was an Egyptian pyramid.
The Fry’s website lists a phone number and email address for customers waiting on a repair. There is no mention of the status of online orders.
The Silicon Valley Voice reached out to Fry’s to determine whether employees were being taken care of following the closure, but received no reply.