#457: Making the Best Buy (Or, making lemonade from lemons)

SOUTH PARK

GETTING MORE TALE #457: Making the Best Buy
(Or, making lemonade from lemons)

In Getting More Tale #326, we lamented that the once-mighty retail chain Best Buy isn’t what it used to be.  This time, we’ll take a look back at the store’s history.

Who doesn’t love those fact-filled Uncle John’s books and calendars?  Here’s the entry for December 2 2015.  Before reading this I had no idea, nor did I really care how Best Buy started.  Uncle John changed my tune:

IMG_20151202_115759

Scan from the Uncle John’s 2015 desk calendar.

Back at the Record Store days in the early 2000’s, the Boss was bracing for a new Best Buy store to open nearby.  He figured that we’d probably feel some short term pain, but in the long term the store should draw more customers to the area and we’d benefit from their presence.  He also strongly encouraged us not to shop there, a big US chain edging into our turf.

I tried to avoid shopping there at first, but the convenience was too much to resist.  When I needed printer ink, computer supplies, or a new movie release, they were right there, and they usually had everything I came in for.  That made it hard to avoid.  I still tried to shop locally — I remember making special trips to Steve’s TV in Frederick Mall to buy the Star Wars trilogy on DVD.  Between big items like TV sets, and small ones like candy, I know I have easily spent thousands of dollars at our local Best Buy stores.   They also had hard to find items, such as the rare ZZ Top box set that came in a little box shaped like a barbecue shack (Chrome, Smoke & BBQ).  The guilt felt for shopping a big US conglomerate was tempered by the savings and convenience.

That was then.  As mentioned in chapter #326, Best Buy took a serious dump a few years ago.  Still, a few weeks back, I had the chance to stop by one with my friend and sometimes contributor, Thussy.  We had an hour to kill before a work dinner, so we popped into Best Buy, prepared to spend money if they had something we wanted.  We spent an hour in the store, but no dollars.

The one thing I would have bought would have been the new Adele CD, 25, for my mom.  (Yes, it’s for my mom.)  I know Best Buy pretty much cut audio CDs from their stores completely, but hey, it’s Adele.  Worth a try, right?  Even my grocery store has the new Adele.  Best Buy did not have the new Adele.  I wasn’t really surprised.

We were tempted by some of their blu-ray deals.  We saw a reissue of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which I have already bought thrice, no more no less, over the years: VHS, DVD, and special edition DVD.  This new version was a blu-ray, with the same features as the DVD, but a neat little castle set and plastic animals to catapult over it.  Very tempting indeed.  But both of us said no.  We survived their $7.99 cheapie blu-ray bin without spending a penny.   The only thing that was almost a serious temptation was that new remote controlled Star Wars Sphero BB-8 toy. It was $180, and it is definitely a neat little toy. But what the hell was I going to do with it? With a big record shopping excursion in Toronto on my horizon, the $180 would be better saved.

It was a pleasant trip to Best Buy, and we marvelled at all the new televisions and gadgets.  We were asked by one pleasant employee if we needed any help, and only once, which is exactly how you want it.

Best Buy, what happened to you?  Obviously, their story didn’t end with opening 1000 superstores.  They continued to grow, by acquiring other electronics and music retail chains, such as Sam Goody.  Their presence in Canada was felt in 2001, when they bought out our own, similar chain:  Future Shop.  That’s when they began horning in on our territory, and freaking out the Boss.  They continued to expand and acquire, and their services such as the Geek Squad became household names.  It seems this is where Best Buy and I parted ways, as they focused more and more on electronics, and less on the media that I often came in for.  They bought mobile phone stores and services, and became the first non-Apple distributor of the iPhone in 2008.   Phones, game consoles and tech support took over the spaces once designated for music.  Meanwhile online, Best Buy’s on-demand movies, improved web sales services, and quick delivery began to dominate.  I bought my laptop online, and it was at my door to me a few days later in the post.  Around 2010 however their sales began to dip, but Best Buy shed some weight in order to continue to survive.

It just hasn’t happened with much of my help.

This year, Best Buy’s Canadian acquisition Future Shop bit the dust.  I hadn’t done much shopping there lately either, for the same reasons as above.  The two stores were all but identical, and sometimes existed side by side!  It was no wonder they shut their doors.  Others re-opened under the Best Buy banner, but it was a major hit for the company.

I think Best Buy will continue to exist, but as online ordering and home delivery becomes the norm, I think the stores will be able to shrink in size and survive.  Large items like televisions might remain in-store for customers to try out, or to pick up after ordering online.  Small items like movies might be phased out altogether, since Amazon’s own home delivery is the king of convenience.

I will continue to watch Best Buy, and sure, I’ll be cheering from the sidelines.  I would very much like to buy something cool at a great price from them again, some day.

 

SEAN BEAN MEME

 

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50 comments

      1. Those things are at least $65 on Discogs and they have a neat selection of tunes. This must be a Boxing Day deal to lure people in.
        Go to the store for a $5 ZZ Top shck and walk out with a $1000 tv. What the hell.
        I used to love Future Shop. I would go every Tuesday when the new music came out. Sadly they slowly got out of music and now are no longer. Probably better for the brick and mortar record stores I prefer now anyway.

        P.S. I went into HMV yesterday and asked the young guy if he had any Keith Richards cd’s. He said “Who is that? He’s Country right?”
        I could not believe it. With the shit music they were playing and the lack of knowledge, and the line up 25 people long, I put my stuff I was going to buy back on the shelf and went to a real record store.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. The second he said that I thought of you. Different times for sure. The young ones working know all the oricessed, corporate, no talent “musicians” out today, but none of the pioneers.

          I spefifically went to that store because they showed stock, but he couldn’t find it for me anyway, so another reason to leave.

          I guess you can’t know every musician ever, but do some research ffs. Not knowing who a member of the Rolling Stones is should be grounds for termination.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. Aaron knows what I’m talking about here — we used to have a music knowledge test you had to pass. If you didn’t know Keith Richards I’m confident in saying you didn’t get an interview.

          Liked by 2 people

        3. Haha I remember taking that test! I recall being creative with my answers, giving them File Under: categories. Some of that test was hard! I know I didn’t get them all, and I like to think I know a bit about music. Clearly not enough!

          Liked by 2 people

        4. I’ll tell you where music of our youth is at today… my 16 yo niece can’t name a Bob Marley song, wears his tshirt. Marianas Trench is coming to Sudz, and she HAS TO SEE THEM. I ask, Who? Headley, Down with Webster and Theory of a Deadman are all she listens to. And you ask her what her favourite Who song is, she couldn’t tell you. Hey man, I don’t begrudge what you like, but ffs, when I was her age I listened to IT ALL! Obviously different tastes.

          Liked by 1 person

        5. I have a theory on this and it goes to an Aerosmith article I was reading an hour or so ago.

          Kids today are used to the pro-tools kind of music with audio perfection. Every note is bang on, every beat is perfect, because it’s edited to be that way on a computer. They can’t comprehend live music and in some cases it gives them a headache. I know people who get HEADACHES from live music, because it’s not note perfect!

          Liked by 1 person

        6. It’s because the tech has changed, too. They don’t listen to full albums as much, anymore. It’s all singles.

          I’m sure if you asked our parents, they’d say the same thing about when we were kids, though. I remember lots of times my Mom walked past my room, poked her head in, and said “what is that shit you’re listening to?” Haha. We all do it. Our kids will do it to us, too. There’ll be some crap they love and we’ll just have to endure it. It’s just how it goes.

          Liked by 2 people

        7. I think it’s a combination of factors. The more I talk to youngsters who listen to pop music, the more I get a sense that some of what they are getting from it is robotic precision, and their minds haven’t been exposed to actual live music with its ebbs and valleys. Sad really!

          Like

  1. We had a Future Shop which was eaten like u said by Best Buy! It’s a big store here as well but not much for me it’s all cell phones,computers and Tvs….no music ..well a bit but for sure if u need TV for sure but Yep u can get everything on line….

    Liked by 1 person

      1. So, Sudz had a boxing day bylaw where stores remained closed the 26th, and boxingday was technically the 27th. The bylaw was repealed in the last municipal election this year. This was the first year 26th was boxing day. This meant stores could choose to open if they wanted. That said, it wasn’t that busy at BB. The ‘crowd’ of people was at the mobile devices station for whatever reason. But K and I came and went super easily. Sudburians are meeting the new boxing day with mixed feelings. It’s a new thing…next year will likely pick up.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well isn’t that interesting. I did not know that. At all. I know when Boxing Day shopping became the norm in the late 90’s, I was disappointed. My first few years at the store, it was still the law that you had to be closed, though stores were opening and risking the fines because the profits outweighed the fines. I think ’96 was our first year open on the 26th, and it was only one store, because we were closing that one, and it was an experiment. But in ’97 all our stores were open on the 26th.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I also think stores aren’t making with the sales like in the past because of black Friday and cyber Monday sales. I didn’t see much in the way of discounts…even online.

          Like

    1. Die Hard is a classic! Still Remember seeing the adds in the theatre for when it was coming out. I was sold by the cut out Poster of a jacked up Willis!
      1988 was a great year for music and Die Hard!
      It feels like so long ago but it doesn’t!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. My town has neither a Future Shop nor a Best Buy. We haven’t lived in a town with either store since Saskatoon, over ten years ago. And we live 2 hours away minimum (in any direction) from the nearest store, so I can’t really comment. I remember being disappointed in FS when their CD section got smaller and smaller smaller and that was probably 12 years ago. I just mostly used them for CD-r and DVD-r. Now I go elsewhere for those too! And I never think of them for shopping online, either. Ah well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. NICE! At the price I saw it for, I was thinking, “I’d be stupid not to buy this.” I was even going to buy a couple, as gifts. But then I changed my mind, because I’ve bought it so many times over the years. But if it can throw animals 3-4 feet…I think I DO NEED IT.

      Hope you had an amazing Christmas!

      Like

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