So, Fry's is officially shut down. I have, as you might expect, mixed feelings.
Some of you know I used to work at Fry's. From the couple of messages I've gotten, y'all may not remember that my position in Customer Service for Frys.com was eliminated in late October, with no warning at all. The decision was a surprise, the method of it was typical Fry's.
I had some awesome co-workers. I had some less than awesome cow-orkers too, but that's bound to happen. The Call Center, at it's peak had over 50 people manning the phones, answering 80-100 calls per day, and hired on the high-K approach, where they brought in anyone who could pass the drug test, gave them a week of training, and threw them in. Many people left during that first week. I'd like to say that those who made it came out stronger, but the reality is that phone customer service isn't for everyone, and there was a lot to learn. When you graduated to "Sales" (2nd level support), you were expected to know everything about products in your particular group, and be able to answer questions about others. I thrived, others...did not.
ANYWAY, Fry's had come a long way since then. The website was always behind the times, lacking essential features, sometimes outright wrong, and, as I would tell our customers, "Held many traps for the unwary." Calls continued to come, but in far less volume, as people would just go to Amazon or somesuch. Certain business decisions (such as using a secondary verification on credit cards that wasn't nearly mainstream yet), led to much fraud, and probably huge losses. They never fully integrated their online vs retail operations, until they closed the central warehouse, meaning online returns needed to be shipped back, often at customer cost. Even if you lived right next to a brick and mortar store.
Anything Fry's could have done to make life more convenient for customers was bypassed if it cost money, is what it boils down to.
They were also notoriously cheap as far as low-level employees go. I'm not sure what upper management was making (although I'm pretty sure it was decent), but minimum wage was typical, and "yearly raises" weren't a thing. Neither were performance reviews. The benefits system was basically crap, there was no 401k matching, and yet, up to nearly the end, despite an impressive in-store network for teleconferencing (the corp HQ had their own TV Studio), managers were flown in for quarterlies for many years.
And, of course, there's the dwindling product stock that was the real downfall. Corporate will tell you that they changed to a Consignment model, a la Walmart, to save money. What they don't tell you is that they had to do that, because they defaulted on so many creditors. Too many companies just wouldn't work with them any other way, and many more of them just stopped working with them at all. The reason the shelves were empty was that they couldn't find enough product to sell.
And *then* you get to Covid. If we weren't living in a pandamic, I'm sure Fry's would have limped along for a few more years, looking for people to buy them up. And, I'm sure, someone would have - I haven't looked at the tributes and memories on social media, but I know that we would get concerned calls from people saying "I hope Fry's doesn't go away. I love them." Sometimes also followed by "I don't want to have to shop at Best Buy."
Really. I heard that a lot. Fry's had brand loyalty like you wouldn't believe.
And they squandered it. And that's why I'm sad about Fry's closing. But, you know, not that sad.
I saw someone in another comment thread say "I heard Fry's was a family-owned business, and now I feel sad for the Fry's family." Don't. Don't even at all. The Fry's family made a ton of money over the years on the backs of their employees, and the land the buildings are on will make them a bunch of money. They'll be fine. Feel sad for everyone else, though. - David Bedno