An electronics store chain with stores in the state of California, and often in their own state of mind. Famous for loss leaders like really cheap bitty box computers. They carry everything a geek needs to survive in one store: Electronic components, televisions, laboratory equipment and science toys, CDs, and snacks. They are also famous for really stupid employees and mindless paperwork for the sake of paperwork.

Fry's used to be a chain of grocery stores before they started selling electronics. They never completely made the transition.

Each store has a different kind of cutsey theme. For instance, the Burbank outlet's theme is 60's Sci-fi, complete with a model flying saucer 'crashing' into the front of the store, and stuffed aliens duking it out with mannequins in Army gear inside.

The other store I went to, up in Palo Alto, had more of a rainforest theme.

Fry's is an interesting chain of stores. There are several Fry's stores within the Bay Area, but I am only familiar with the one in Palo Alto.

Fry's stores are a dream to your average electronics or computer geek. They have everything from software to hardware to books to DVD players to complete Computer systems. They have it all.

The downside to Fry's are the employees. Now, I'm not saying that these people are subhuman or worthless, its just that you should never expect any help in the way of choosing a product.

As far as I am concerned, their sole purpose is to show you where a specific item is and help you with the purchase of said item, if needed. If you go to Fry's with the hopes that someone there will help you make a decision as to what sound card to buy, you should just turn around, go home, and pretend that sound is coming out of your computer. Your time will be better spent. If you go to Fry's knowing exactly what you want, chances are you will have a good experience.

One thing that did surprise me about Fry's is the non-computer stuff they carry. I'm standing in line to check out with my new video game that I decided to purchase. The checkout line is something like a cow corral. They herd you into one line and the next available cashier takes the next person in line. This siginificantly speeds up the checkout procedure (prevents people from getting stuck in the "slow line"), but they line the inside of the checkout corral with impulse items. They have things like candy bars, beef jerky, pork rinds, little gizmos, and... and... condoms?!

Do my eyes deceive me? Is this a joke? This really stuck me as odd. Here I am, in an electronics store aimed at geeks, and one of their impulse items is a 6 pack of Trojans? Sometimes its just best to not ponder these cosmic anomolies.

If you really like Fry's and live in or are visiting the Bay Area, I would recommend that you check out WeirdStuff. That place is (Fry's * geek^256).

Tips for shopping at Fry's Electronics
(I mostly familiar with the Fountain Valley store, but judging from reports on the web, they're all about the same)
  • Never buy items with restock stickers on them. There's virtually no quality control on what gets restocked. On the other hand...
  • If you need to try out several different items to make up your mind, Fry's liberal return policy is exactly what you want. (However, it will often take an hour of waiting in the return line first.)
  • Don't ever bring in anything for repair. You'll never get it back. Return it if you can, preferrably not for "store credit"
  • Loss-leader sale items are often worthwhile, but regular prices are, well, regular-to-expensive. Don't buy stuff that's not on sale unless you can't get it elsewhere.
  • Be pushy. In order to buy a bare CPU, memory or hard drive, you need to get a sales slip from one of the salespeople in the components isle. Be ready to tell them exactly what you want, and don't accept substitutions of more expansive upgrades. The salespeople are stupid and couldn't care less, but they do get commission.
  • Be prepared to spend a long time there. For example, if you wanted to buy a stick of SDRAM, you'd first have to get the attention of one of three salespeople being swarmed by a dozen or so customers in the components isle. After arguing with him about what you want and receiving a sales slip, you wait in a long line to get to the checkout, where the clerk takes the sales slip to the "cage" where someone will bring out the SIMM for them. You write a check, so the clerk raises a Customer Service sign to wait for the supervisor to come by, who then takes your check over to a podium where they call your bank to see if you've got enough money. If you're not a regular customer, you'll also have to give your address and show several forms of identification. After you finally check-out, there's another long line at the exit where you wait for another bored clerk to initial your recipt.
  • Feel free to open up the boxes and take a look at the mouse, keyboard, CD-ROM, or whatever else you're planning to buy. If the salespeople even notice, they won't care.
  • If you're planning to buy bare components as well as boxed parts, get the components first. Otherwise the salespeople will insist on adding all the stuff in your cart to their sales slips in the name of "faster checkout", meaning the checkout clerk gets confused and they get commission.
  • There is a single long line for a row of checkouts, with a clerk at the front of the line who tells you which checkout to go to. The checkout clerks hold up numbered signs when they're free, so ignore the clerk at the front of the line and just go to the closest checkout.

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