Road trip news, rants, and ruminations by the Editors of RoadsideAmerica.com
February 24, 2021
The Day The Fry’s Stood Still.
Fry’s Electronics, popular on Roadside America for their amusing creative themed stores (along with emergency camera, phone, and battery solutions), has shut down all of its locations across America. In 2019, it closed one in Anaheim; Covid-19 cratering of in-store sales contributed to the November 2020 shuttering of the ancient Egyptian tomb-themed location in Campbell, California, and the Mayan Temple in San Jose. Today there were numerous reports that the entire chain had closed. While some exterior theme elements may linger as visible for a bit, indications are that these places will not be revived.
The marketing concept of big box retail stores as tourist attractions was a welcome component of many trip itineraries. The appeal included ample parking, no admission charge, and unofficial theme scavenger hunts by visitors. We never left a Fry’s store without spotting and purchasing some “essential” e-gewgaw.
The casualties include:
Burbank, California: Alien Invasion Theme
A literally over-the-top entrance of a crashed UFO led customers to a vast selection of tech gear and electronic items, mixed with giant mutant spiders, melting military vehicles, and Gort, the robot from The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951).
Campbell, California: King Tut Theme
Legends said King Tut’s tomb was nestled deep within the store’s ancient Egyptian motif. But we came in for flash memory, not a persistent curse. It closed permanently in November 2020.
Roseville, California: Train Calamity Theme
More of a madcap, no-one-was-hurt railroad disaster as a photo-op olde-timey engine crashes through an outer wall. Inside: a full-size train replica on tracks.
San Jose, California: Mayan Theme
A Mayan temple replica acted as the store entrance, with interior elements celebrating the ancient astronomers of central America. Fry’s closed this location in Nov. 2020.
Woodland Hills, California: Hallucination Theme
Alice in Wonderland characters as large as 15-ft. tall decorated the space above aisles of wires and accessories.
Las Vegas, Nevada: Gambling Theme
Fry’s store’s themed entrance facade of a giant one-armed bandit channeled the cheesy energies of Las Vegas Strip history.
Webster, Texas: Space-Station Theme
An International Space Station replica was a centerpiece for the tech retail store, decorated with a space exploration theme.