FRY's/Radio Shack

Chuck Guzis cclist at
Fri Feb 6 18:42:24 CST 2015

On 02/06/2015 02:35 PM, Fred Cisin wrote:

> 3) Back when it was a grocery store with a couple of aisles of hobbyist
> stuff, it was GREAT!!  It was still really good when the groceries were
> cut back to only what all night hackers would want (some nukable food,
> toothbrushes, snacks, a superb selection of caffeinated sodas (including
> Jolt)).

It was never exclusively a grocery store--it existed with and was 
preceded by the Fry's grocery chain.  John Fry took some of the family 
loot and had an idea to market to the geek community.  He told me that 
he looked at the margin in PC sales (could be close to 60% in a regular 
"computer store") and reasoned that what allowed a grocery store to 
exist on a 2% margin might be brought to bear in an electronics store, 
without the issues of rotten produce and past sell-by meat.

It is true that he initially had a small section in the store to sell 
some geek-specific items--Canfield's Diet Fudge soda being one of the 
more notable.  He sold it, like later Jolt Cola, by the caselot.

John even sold shareware discs--placed the wire racks right up at the 

His help was basically what amounted to grocery-store type clerks.  If 
you came to check-out with a VME backplane, they just read off the item 
number and entered it into the register.  It might as well have been a 
bunch of grapes.

I saw my first modern videophone demoed at Fry's.  I think it was the 
Mitsubishi LU-500, but am not certain after all these years.  Fry's sold 
a lot of surplus Everex PC expansion boards also.  I bought my first box 
of 3.5" DSHD floppies at Fry's--they were Fujis and the box cost about 
$40 for 10 disks.  Cheaper than 8".

Now clearly, you need a certain number and density of customers in the 
area served by your store--and the Santa Clara valley was one such location.


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