When Circuit City announced today that it was asking a bankruptcy court to allow it to close its stores and sell off its assets, it's doubtful that anyone who has been to a Circuit City store lately was surprised by the retailer's demise.
What killed Circuit City is precisely the same thing that killed CompUSA a year ago: Its only real value-add -- knowledgeable sales and support staff with the expertise to explain the technology to customers -- was long gone. Specialty stores like Circuit City lost their appeal when they stopped investing in proper hiring practices and training programs. There was no longer any reason to venture out to Circuit City for electronics and computer gadgets and peripherals when you could get the same merchandise, probably at lower prices, while you were at Wal-Mart buying underwear and razor blades.
So what's going to happen to all of those shuttered Circuit City stores? Perhaps one will house a display of cadavers, as the abandoned former CompUSA store here in Framingham, Mass., did a year ago. As I wrote in a blog post back then, that store was being used for a "Bodies" exhibit, one of those garish displays of posed cadavers that for several years now have been making the rounds of museums and other exhibition spaces.
"I find it interesting that the cadaver of a store is now housing a display of cadavers who probably aren't much more zombie-like than the people who used to work there," I wrote at the time. The display would no doubt be equally fitting in a vacant Circuit City outlet.
This story, "Circuit City Goes the Way of CompUSA" was originally published by Computerworld.