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Some places you won’t be doing any last minute Christmas shopping

December 24, 2009

It’s been a rough year for retailers.  The mall close to my house has seen a complete transformation in the last year or so.  Big stores like Virgin, Hilo Hattie’s, and Ron Jon’s Surf Shop are all gone.  Many of the high end restaurants are gone, too.  That’s fine with me.  I never saw the point in paying $13 for a hamburger. 

Well, maybe for this one.

With Christmas coming up and too late to order online, there are many fewer stores to pop into for some late holiday shopping.  Whether it’s due to the economy, online shopping, bad management, or social tendencies, the following stores are gone and never to be heard from again. 

Circuit City 

The opening of the first Best Buy store signaled the end of days for Circuit City.  It was OK for a while, but the stores eventually started looking like they fired the cleaning crew.  But that was just the beginning of their problems.  Their layouts were bad.  The merchandise they stocked was never up to date.  But their worst offense occurred in 2007.  The company needed to cut down on expenses, so they did what every other company does in that situation: they fired their 3,400 top salespeople by basically handing them one of these.


They replaced them with minimum wage, untrained employees.  This furthered Circuit City’s already growing problem of poor customer service and caused an even larger gap between them a Best Buy.  When they liquidated, the CEO blamed the economy.  Thousands of ex-employees would beg to differ. 

Pontiac Dealer 

This was one of the automotive divisions that GM decided to discontinue. (Saturn, Oldsmobile, and SAAB being the others)  Classic car buffs were disappointed, most of the rest of us didn’t care.  As far as I’m concerned, this is the reason Pontiac failed: 


 Any auto executive that greenlights a car that looks like this should be dragged out into the street and shot. 

Expo by Home Depot 

I went to Expo once, that was all I needed.  This store thrived off the housing boom.  The only reason they sold anything was because people were taking out $100,000 with refinanced homes and had money to burn.  But how long were people going to be buying $600 faucets and $5,000 bathtubs?  

Expensive and ugly. A complete package.

 Not long, apparently. 


This is a store that was completely done in by bad management.  Mervyn’s was doing just fine when it was owned by Target in 2004.  When it was bought by a private equity firm, it was done.  The equity firm wanted the stores for the properties they sat on.  They sold the properties and leased it back to their own stores at way above market rates. 

The lights were left on out of spite

 The resulting bankruptcy left thousands without jobs or severance.  Even their vacation pay they are owed is being held up in bankruptcy court.  Nothing like a few millionaires sticking to the peasants. 

Linens n’ Things 

Linens was another chain held by a private equity firm. (Although this one wasn’t as bad as the Mervyn’s  debacle)  But they were more done in by the economy.  Much of their sales were through their private credit card.  With the credit market in shambles, they were no longer able to extend the same credit to their customers.  

It should say: Dream big, spend bigger, pay interest, declare bankruptcy

Although with the way Americans like to put themselves in debt, that may not be such a bad thing. 

Virgin Megastore 

Digital downloading of music spelled the end to these ginormous stores.  There was one right down the street from me.  They tried to supplement their sagging CD sales by stocking LP’s and more movies and video games.  It didn’t work. 

They would have done better if they actually sold virgins

It was too big anyways.  It tried to compete with Tower Records when they were already on their way out.  Not only that, they totally tried to rip everybody off even as they were closing.  It was funny to me that the CDs that were $11.99 the week before were now 40% of their new $18.99 price for the new low price of…  $11.99.  Nice try.

So wherever you decide to brave the general public while shopping for last minute gifts, good luck to you.  And everyone have a merry Christmas and happy holidays.  I’ll see you on Monday.

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