Apr 09 2017

HHGregg Is Closing All 220 Stores – This Doesn’t Surprise Me

Home technology store chain HHGregg is closing all of its 220 stores after failing to find a buyer for the now-struggling company. It’s the usual case of a business going into the red financially and filing chapter 11 bankruptcy to try to liquidate all its assets, pay its debts, and maybe restructure and get back on its feet. We’ve seen it with Radioshack and we’ve seen it with Circuit City before this.

Actually, it’s damned interesting to draw the comparison between HHGregg and Circuit City, since not only did HHGregg move into many former Circuit City locations (including and old Circuit City location here in Memphis) but the stores were very similar – from what I remember of Circuit City, HHGregg falls somewhere between CC and Best Buy in general style, merchandise, and the like – appliances, tv’s, related home items, and of course, higher end electronics: basically acting as a place to get all the snazzy amenities of a more high-tech home life – or that’s how I take it.

Quite honestly, I’ve never much liked them. It’s a nice little story that may have been a one-off experience, but regardless was enough to make me think of them as a company that doesn’t have a damned clue (which clearly, in the longer term, was correct).

It was early 2010, and I needed a new computer. I thought I might as well go to HHGregg and try them, figuring they would have the best options for me that didn’t require me to go to Best Buy (which I’ve had many issues with over the years, more on that in the future). Well, once I got there I was looking over their computer selection and noticed that all they had were all-in-one models. Now, those would be fine for a more basic workstation, but at the time I was a PC gamer. I didn’t want anything too extreme, but I wanted a proper normal sized machine so I could put in a decent graphics card, upgrade the RAM, and add in USB 3 (which was just around the corner, or had just been released around that time). A simple want, as that is the “standard” computer, is it not?

Well, when I inquired about wanting a traditional tower the sales representative, a nice enough seeming gentleman , stressed with a somewhat odd tone that “those are old, all in ones are the future, if you want an old style one go next door”, his next door comment referring to Office Max, which was indeed just next door. Now, I mention his odd tone; he could have been slightly hostile to me, or it may have just been his accent, as the man clearly was from another country, and some accents can naturally sound angry, after all, so I’m not holding that against him too much. I do still think it’s amazingly odd for him to be that blunt, and it really wasn’t  the best customer service, but I took it as a chance to prove the point and did exactly that – I went next door, to Office Max, purchased a nice enough machine, and it served me well as my primary computer for about 5 years before I bought the current machine I’m using (I’m not one to go all out on custom builds, not yet anyway.)

I only went in to HHGregg one more time around 2014 to look around, and oddly enough I saw not a single “all in one” unit; instead seeing a selection of laptops, tablets, and standard desktops. Of course, the guy who I talked to nearly 5 years ago was nowhere to be found, so I couldn’t make a snarky quip to him even if I wanted to, although I’m not about being that petty.

I did find it hilarious, regardless, that that guy was so dead wrong on what the “future” would be. I’m not saying incidents like this are what killed the stores – they certainly didn’t help it customer rating wise, but they were minimal in the grand scheme: The real issues were some of the same ones that doomed Circuit City and Radio Shack – a very volatile market for consumer electronics and “fancy” home decor items, and a failure to adapt to the online-centric nature of modern, educated shoppers. At least, that’s one take on such. I feel it’s a far more complex element than even financial analysts can really put into words, but it doesn’t matter – to me, it’s somewhat rewarding to hear they are closing, as petty as that may be, since my personal experience was a one-and-done event that made me avoid them as a choice for items – I’d rather deal with Best Buy, and as I expressed above, I hate Best Buy.

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