Where have all the geek stores gone?

I tried to get a little bit of Christmas shopping done today. We're actually mostly through with our Christmas purchases already, but I just wanted an excuse to get outside to enjoy the day. Jessica tagged along with me being nice and cooperative the whole time - it's not like she could object anyway. ;)

One store I explicitly wanted to visit was CompUSA. After a rough several years and increasingly stiff competition from Circuit City, Best Buy and even office supply stores like Staples, CompUSA is finally closing up shop. I know a lot of people will probably say good riddance. The store in our area was showing its age and the service was far from excellent. We even had our car broken into in their parking lot a couple of years ago. So I should have a particularly negative perspective on the place.

But I'm still going to miss it. The big box electronic stores have a decent selection of mainstream computer equipment, but if I ever needed anything more specific (as I often do) I was usually able to track it down at CompUSA. Sure, I could go online to a site like Newegg and get whatever I need for cheaper and shipped reasonably fast. But there's times where you'd just prefer to have it in hand immediately. And when it came to niche things like cables, networking equipment, power supplies, etc. CompUSA couldn't be beat for its in-store selection, at least around here (oh how I wish we had a Fry's.)

Another former geek store apparently on life support is Radio Shack. There used to be a day that whenever you needed a cable or adapter of any kind (no matter how bizarre) you could head on day to your nearest Radio Shack and they'd be sure to have it - with a moderately informed sales person to boot. If the Radio Shack stores I've visited recently are any indication that's most definitely not the case anymore. I was looking for an adapter the other day and shocked by the lack of selection. Walmart (we've got a little bit of everything but not a lot of anything) probably has a better selection these days.

Oh well. You can get anything online these days. And competition is a good thing I suppose. But when your only choices are two stores that are virtual mirrors of one another what's the point? I'll miss these larger, niche geek stores.


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