A Tale of Two (Circuit) Cities

IMG_1663It was the Best Buy of times, ….  Last week, I went to the Fox Hills Mall in Culver City, which is undergoing a huge expansion.  As part of the expansion, Best Buy is installing a new store there.  Just inside the mall’s main entrance, Best Buy has set up a “hiring center.” Applicants are greeted with optimistic signs proclaiming “Your Opportunity” and “Your Enthusiasm,” complete with Best Buy’s bright blue and yellow color scheme.

But if you turn 180 degrees and look just across W. Slauson Avenue, you can see a drab grey building with maroon trim.  If you look at the series of dots across the top of the building, you can make out where the large “CIRCUIT CITY” sign was taken down when this and its other stores closed earlier this year.  Circuit City’s loss has obviously become Best Buy’s gain.

IMG_1660 I experienced the duality of BB vs. CC last October.  I wanted to buy a new tv, and first went to the Best Buy on the other side of Culver City, on Washington Boulevard just West of Overland.   I was greeted with a helpful, knowledgeable, low-pressure salesman. We discussed the tv’s for a while (I already had a model in mind), then I told him I wanted to look around some more.

If you look carefully across the top of the building, you may be able to make out the shadow of "CIRCUIT CITY"
If you look carefully across the top of the building, you may be able to make out the shadow of "CIRCUIT CITY"

I drove across CC to the CC pictured here.  I stood in the aisle looking at different tv’s for a good fifteen minutes.  No sales person came over to help me.  There were very few sales people in the shop, and very few customers.  I was displeased, and left.  I went over to the food court at the Fox Hills Mall, got something to eat, and then decided to give Circuit City another chance.  I went back, looked at the tv’s again, and had the same result.  So I went back to Best Buy, asked my salesman if he wanted to sell me a tv, and struck a deal.  He told me that Circuit City was probably going to go out of business soon.  A month later, Circuit City filed for bankruptcy protection.

I suppose this was the chicken and the egg, or perhaps the chickens coming home to roost, since, by the time I got to Circuit City, the internal rumors about it going bankrupt were undoubtedly rampant, staff had likely been cut, and morale must have been very low.  So unless the sales people were on commission, I guess they had little incentive to do anything.

Hopefully, the shopping experience at Best Buy won’t be degraded (and its prices won’t rise abnormally) now that one of its chief competitors is gone.

2 Replies to “A Tale of Two (Circuit) Cities”

  1. Long before Best Buy came around, I found Circuit City to be kind of off-putting. I couldn’t ever really put my finger on why, but it just seemed kind of shady to me. Perhaps I had a negative reaction from seeing their old commercial with the kid that bought a Walkman taking some great trek to get to Circuit City with a coupon for the Walkman for another store and getting a rebate (“That’s it?” “That’s it.” “Cool!”) constantly when I was a kid. When they laid off thousands of their workers and invited them to apply for their old jobs at a much lower rate of pay, I said F.U. to them for good.

    Now, Best Buy, on the other hand, I find really overbearing. It’s loud, overly bright, and I find it kind of cheesy. I hate chain electronic stores.

  2. @evan — I largely agree with you. In addition, I went to a mom & pop shop in the area that sells high-end tv’s. They were quite aggressive, and even when I started asking about the model I wanted, they tried to steer me (and another nearby customer) to a different brand that they favored. I’m sure many people nowadays are buying their electronics from Amazon and other online retailers and avoiding the in-store experience.

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