So Circuit City has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Earlier this month, the electronics chain said it would close 155 stores and lay off 17 percent of its employees.
This is about the least surprising news I've heard all year.
In fact, I'm surprised Circuit City made it this long.
Without fail, every single time I entered a Circuit City, I had some sort of crazy experience that left me wondering how this place stayed in business. It happened, most recently, last month, when I went shopping for a digital camera.
I asked the guy in the camera department if he sold any point and shoots that featured aperture priority. The kid just stared at me like I asked him if they sold plutonium. How stores like this expect to sell $500 cameras without knowing what an F-stop is, is simply beyond me.
Every other shopping trip I've had at Circuit City ended similarly, whether it was from confusion on where the physical box to the product I had just purchased was hiding, or whether an employee could answer even the most basic questions about products in his or her department.
I'm guessing I'm not alone, either, as the parking lot at the location on S. 76th St. is always empty, while across the street at Best Buy, it's full. I think the only cars in Circuit City's lot are actually from diners at the Red Lobster next door.
There are only a few stores of which I have such a low opinion. The worst, by far, is RadioShack. I've nearly gone postal when employees resort to "checking in the catalog" to see if they carry a basic product. And don't get me started on their insistence that I offer up everything from my name to my blood type when I buy a RCA cable. Put simply, the shopping experience at the Shack is crap.
But that's why only the strong survive. Take CompUSA. That place was terrible. And now it's history. Maybe the free market system does work after all.
I'd love to hear your memories of bad experiences at stores that ran themselves out of business. Chime in using the Talkback feature below.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.