Tag Archives | Circuit City

The Twelve Weird Old Electronics Commercials of Christmas

halsmithI’m not ashamed to admit that I’m kind of addicted to watching old TV commercials on YouTube. Especially ones involving computers and electronics. And today, I have an excuse to share a bunch of them with you, in no particular order.

1. Mattel Electronics, early 1980s. Hal “Otis the Town Drunk” Smith plays a Santa who shills for an offer involving $2-$12 in cash back if you bought “qualifying” Mattel Electronics games and Pepsi. Never trust a Santa who wears a hat shaped like a football and tries to convince you that rebates are worth it.

After the jump, lots more of this stuff–don’t say I didn’t warn you…

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Not-So-Black-Friday Preview: Circuit City

circuitcitylogoOkay I’ll admit out of all the retailers that we’ve profiled so far for Black Friday, I was looking forward to Circuit City’s offerings the most. This is a company that is in some serious, serious trouble.

As Harry has covered so well over the past few weeks, the major electronics retailer has filed for bankruptcy, and that it was closing 115 of its locations.

Black Friday would seemingly not be the best thing for a company that’s trying to dig itself out of a hole. But, suprisingly enough, Circuit City’s offerings (or at least the presentation of them) seem to be one of the more aggressive.

Four HDTVs would be available: An Element 18.5″ 720p for $199.99, an Toshiba 32″ LCD for $449.99, ans two Samsungs: a 42″ 720p plasma for 699.99, and a 46″ 1080p for $1099.99.

Things that caught our eye: The Xbox 360 bundles. The Arcade bundle for $199 includes a game, wireless controller, and refurbished 20GB HDD, for $100 more you can step up to the 60GB HDD, an additional free game, and a $30 gift card.

At least 60 CD and DVD titles would be priced at $2.99, and about 200 more would be priced at $3.99. Like other retailers it would offer the standard $399 laptop.

Here’s the ad scan courtesy of blackfriday.info.

See our other Black Friday tech deal coverage by clicking here.


A Brief History of Defunct Electronics Chains in the Form of Old TV Ads


Today’s news that Circuit City, American’s second-largest electronics retailer, has filed for bankruptcy left me sad. And, oddly enough, nostalgic. The City isn’t going out of business, but as I reflected on its woes I thought about all the electronics chains I’ve shopped at over the years–the vast majority of which are no longer with us. (If Circuit City were to close its doors, it would leave only Best Buy and RadioShack as truly national chains focused solely on consumer electronics of all sorts, right?)

Once I got nostalgic, I did what I often do in such situations: I headed to YouTube. Which is rife with old commercials for defunct electronics retailers. Many of these chains basically did themselves in through poor management or inability to change with the times, and I thought some of them were shabby even when I did business with them; But it’s fun to get reacquainted with them through the miracle of streaming video.

After the jump, a look back, mostly in chronological order sorted by the year of the chain’s demise (click on the year for more details on the circumstances of its death).

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Is Circuit City’s Bankruptcy the Beginning of the End?

circuitcitylogoA week ago, the bad news about Circuit City was that it was closing 115 of its locations. New week, new bad news: The company has filed for Chapter 11 voluntary bankruptcy, a move that will will let it continue business without having to pay all its creditors all the money it owes them.

Bankruptcies aren’t always signs of impending corporate death. But they sure aren’t signs of robust health, either. Companies that file for bankruptices generally then segue towards one of two fates: hobbling along in a bumpy fashion thereafter, or folding.

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Is There Any Way to Save Circuit City? I’m Not Optimistic–But I Hope So

Engadget is reporting a rumor that that the venerable Circuit City chain is planning to shut down 155 of its stores, which would amount to about a quarter of its locations. If true, this is sad news for the folks employed at those outlets, not to mention the ones who like to shop at them. But it wouldn’t be a shock. For a long time, Circuit City’s very existence has been defined by the fact that it competes with the juggernaut known as as Best Buy, and it’s never found a satisfactory strategy for defining itself in an appealing, distinct way. Mostly, it’s felt like a Best Buy with less floor space and a skimpier selection of stuff, and service that was at best no better than Best Buy’s. Which is a recipe for irrelevance, long term.

It’s easy to forget that there was a time when Circuit City was the nation’s leading national electronics chain, and Best Buy was an up-and-comer, not an 800-pound gorilla. Actually, it wasn’t that long ago: Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, published in 2001, lavishes praise on Circuit City’s success and mentions Best Buy only once, in passing. But there’s no business that’s more fickle than retailing, and electronics is especially brutal–just ask CompUSA, Good Guys, RadioShack, or any of the other chains that have either gone out of business or suffered serious challenges in recent years. (And while I was writing this, I learned that Tweeter, a mainstay of my New England youth, is being liquidated.)

I can’t say I’m optimistic about Circuit City’s chances–its stock has fallen so far that it’s flirting with being delisted from the NYSE–but I would be pleased to see it figure out a way to turn things around. If Circuit City ends up with only a handful of stores or disappears altogether, it’ll leave Best Buy as the only truly national, truly full-service electronics retailer. And I’d much rather it had at least one strong competitor to keep it on its toes and pressure it to keep prices low. (Best Buy’s healthiest rivals all seem to be indirect competitors: the regional chain Fry’s, the generalist Wal-Mart, and the Apple Store.)

I’m not sure what I’d do if I somehow found myself as the CEO of Circuit City–if there was an obvious route to success, the company would surely have tried it by now. But I’d hope that there was a place for an electronics chain that offered a noticably superior shopping experience than most–better products more invitingly displayed, with savvier salespeople and smoother checkout. In other words, a sort of Apple Store that sold everything besides Apple-related wares. Given that Circuit City made headlines last year for firing its most experienced salespeople and replacing them with newbies, this doesn’t seem to be its strategy. But I’d love to see it, or somebody, try…