Is Circuit City Back From The Dead?

Is Circuit City Back From The Dead?

Defunct electronics retailer Circuit City could be up and running again as soon as this spring– that is, if everything goes according to the plans of owners Ronny Shmoel and Albert Liniado.

While Circuit City was once the king of the big-box tech stores, the inevitable changes in brick and mortar retail led to quarter after quarter of declining sales, ultimately proving too much for the store to weather. On November 4th, 2008, corporate announced the closing of 155 stores and the lay off of 17% of its workforce. Three days later, they laid off between 500 and 800 of their corporate employees. The company then filed for bankruptcy protection on November 10th, 2008.

Under New Management

After Circuit City closed its last stores in 2009, Shmoel and Liniado purchased the rights to the company from hardware manufacturer Systemax, who purchased the Circuit City brand and assets during their bankruptcy liquidation auction. According to an article published in Twice, an online magazine that covers the consumer electronics industry, the two entrepreneurs will be reopening Circuit City stores sometime early this year.

From the Twice article:

“We want to bring profitability back into retail,” said Liniado, business development VP, who co-ran DataVision, Manhattan’s landmark IT reseller, for 21 years as president.

The stores themselves will range from 2,000 to 4,000 square feet, and will feature product zones that present the assortment by category and brand. Targeted directly at millennials, the mix will include pre- and postpaid smartphones, as well as tablets, notebooks, wearables, networking equipment, gaming products, headphones, drones, 3D printers, health appliances, and DIY devices, all supplemented by a service desk, electronic price tags and touchscreen terminals that link customers with what is envisioned as a million-SKU selection online.

Artist's rendering of the new Circuit City sales floor.

Artist’s rendering of the new Circuit City sales floor.

Circuit City’s New Look

So it seems that the stores will look sharply different from what they used to be. If you ever went into a Circuit City back in its glory days, you remember how it was the poster child of the big-box technology retailer. Massive product displays with bright graphics, an entire massive wall of nothing but TV panels, and a sales floor so big that you practically needed a golf cart to get back to the door. Their new concept revolves around becoming a “small-box” retailer focused toward millennials, with a sales floor of scaled down displays and a minimalist design scheme.

I guess this is the new RadioShack. Circuit City wants to rebrand as a small-box retailer with a ton of everyday products– phone chargers, HDMI cables, SD cards, and the like– sold under the Circuit City name. What The Shack did well was position themselves in the low-involvement purchase market; that is, consumers went there when they forgot a phone charger or needed a cable. There was very little thinking on the buyer’s part, like in an impulse purpose. Shack locations were easy to find and their prices were generally fair. Now if I could just figure out why they always asked for my phone number to sell me batteries…

Hopefully Circuit City doesn’t become a massive fail. Best Buy has adapted well to the new consumer electronics shopping experience, which consists of buyers going to a showroom to see products in person and then buying them on Amazon where they undercut on price. Best Buy now matches Amazon prices, which is a massive step in the right direction.

Look for Circuit City stores to be opening sometime this spring. Additionally, will also relaunch for business.


For those of you feeling nostalgic, here’s a Circuit City classic cut from 2005-ish:

About The Author

Robert Schaeffer is a co-founder and senior editor at Technigrated, where he covers the technology industry as a whole. He started with the network in 2008 as the Director of Design and a co-host of the weekly radio show, Tech Talk Live.

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