The electronics distribution scene changed forever when the ungrateful Fry brothers ditched daddy’s supermarket idea and opened the Fry’s Electronics chain. “Dad never really did know what he was doing,” stated one Fry brother, “I mean, who wants to buy groceries?” When asked why they included a cafeteria in every store, David Fry responded, “We really wanted to create the most unpleasant shopping experience possible, and I think we achieved our goal…I’m not gonna lie, I’m proud of us right now. We started off by using Walmart as a template, but then John had the idea of having each store revolve around a separate theme, and everything just took off from there.”
A Store Is Born
The theme concept was the breakthrough that they needed to differentiate themselves from the other electronics stores, like Best Buy and…well, that’s pretty much it, but they did differentiate themselves from Best Buy. The original idea they had was a circus theme, which was later changed to a science fiction motif for their first store in Sunnyvale, California. However, they still wanted to keep the circus vibe from their original concept.
“We started the Sunday specials in an effort to retain that whole circus feel. Every once in a while we’ll just make something up, like a super-transverter for $1.99 after rebate. I mean, what the heck is a super-transverter? Nobody knows, but customers love it when something is $1.99. People eat that [expletive deleted] up, just like they eat up the meatballs that we serve in the cafeteria and smell the place up with.”
Family was always important to the Fry Brothers. “We really wanted to make the place smell like momma’s kitchen. We worked pretty hard, but I think we captured that.”
Apparently, momma must also have had B.O. because, well, have you ever been to Frys? It is still unknown what the exact source of the odor really is. Some conspiracy theorists believe the smell is piped in from the stock room to give the store more of a Walmart atmosphere. Although the source is unknown, one Fry’s District Manager was overheard saying,
“Yeah, you could go to Best Buy, but I don’t think you’ll get the whole experience. Best Buy can’t do B.O. the way we can. And you can’t get meatballs at Best Buy…unless you mean Meatballs on DVD, or Meatballs 2. But you can’t eat a DVD while smelling B.O.”
Different Strokes For Different Fry’s
The store in Fremont, CA has a space theme, almost in the style of Battlestar Galactica. So say we all. The revamped Sunnyvale, CA store now has a computer theme, which is kind of redundant since they sell computers anyway, so… c’mon. The Woodland Hills store employs an Alice in Wonderland theme. If you try to return something there you have to speak with the Mad Hatter. The Austin, Texas location is centered around a music theme. Store employees have to sing their announcements over the store loudspeaker. This got them into trouble when a novice gangster rapper was promoted after being the greeter for three years. Theme fail: The store in Kansas City used a serial killer theme. It turns out people didn’t want to be reminded of Ted Bundy while they were shopping for deals on routers and computer paper. The Glendale, California location used a porn theme. The poster in the front of the store showing the weekly deals drew many complaints from shoppers. Apparently they didn’t like the new business “model.” They had blow-up dolls at the front of each aisle. For some reason the female patrons were much more upset about this than the male customers. And you don’t want to know what was all over the floor of the place.
Although successful financially, the Fry’s chain has courted its share of controversy. There have been frequent complaints of poor customer service. Customers have stated that they have had to jump through hoops and hurdles when trying to get refunds. This is something Fry’s calls the “Double-H-Policy,” which apparently means that you have to beat an employee in HORSE and get less than 60 seconds in the 400 meter hurdles to get your money back. One customer complained upon having to show his receipt to the doorman upon exit. This seemed unnecessary at the time, since the register he paid at was only 5 feet away, and the greeter was watching the whole transaction since he was staring at the female cashier’s boobs the whole time.