After going out of business way back in 2008, it looks like Circuit City is planning to make a comeback. News came this week that the owners of the former electronic chain’s assets (which at this point consists of the trademarks, domain name, and not much else) plans to open a new store in Dallas this year, with others soon to come. This comes thanks to the backing of an ownership group. Circuit City also supposedly has the backing of Sony, Intel, and Canon, who they spoke with at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month.
The new locations supposedly will appeal to millennials, with a wide variety of electronics. Circuit City’s owner says they plan to set up 50-100 corporate owned locations, plus another 100-200 franchised stores. The stores will range from 2000 to 4000 square feet (186 to 372 square meters). There’ll also be smaller kiosk locations selling mobile devices and similar electronics, presumably similar to Best Buy’s Mobile stores.
I’m not optimistic about the chances of Circuit City’s comeback. It’s been eight years since the chain filed for bankruptcy. During that time, Amazon’s cemented its online electronics sales grip; the smartphone and tablet revolution came about and changed how we make purchases; and there’s the existence of chains like Best Buy, Target, or even Wal-Mart for buying TVs. A few regional electronics sellers have also expanded in Circuit City’s absence; Meijer and H.H. Gregg in the Midwest come to mind. And of course, even Best Buy is having some issues dealing with stiff online competition. Longtime electronics seller Radio Shack‘s also filed for bankruptcy.
There’s also not much nostalgia for Circuit City as a brand name, either by millennials (more used to shopping with Amazon or Best Buy) or by longer-memoried Gen Xers. I still recall from back in the late 90s “DIVX,” Circuit City’s ill-conceived, DRM-laden video format; at the time, it was an attempt to unseat the then-new DVD format. (Not to be confused with the non-DRMed video codec “Divx.”)
Even back in its heyday, I don’t recall buying much from Circuit City beyond headphones or similar priced items. Thus, I’ll stick with Amazon, Target, or Best Buy (or NewEgg on a techie side) for my electronics buying.