Another Electronics Retail Chain Bites the Dust

  • Share
  • Read Later
Renold Zergat / Getty Images

In yet another sign indicating the days of the big-box store model could be numbered, the plug is being pulled on a well-known retail chain that’s been a mainstay in the Midwest for six decades.

On Monday, American TV & Appliance, a 11-location, 60-year-old retail chain based in Madison, Wisc., that sells electronics, furniture, and appliances, announced that is going out of business. All 11 current stores—in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Iowa—will be shut following going-out-of-business sales, and the company’s 989 employees will be out of work.

Given the trends in big box retail over the past decade—electronics retailers in particular—the news shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Over that time span, we’ve witnessed the extraordinary rise of Amazon.com and online retailers, the death of Circuit City and other brick-and-mortar electronics specialists, the introduction and rapid expansion of smartphone-enabled “showrooming” by consumers, and continued challenges faced by struggling giants Radio Shack and Best Buy, among others. On the stock market, shares of consumer electronics retail firms Best Buy and hhgregg have tumbled lately after disappointing quarterly results were reported in the sector.

American TV’s closure came after years of struggle—and years of tweaks to the business that apparently couldn’t solve the company’s problems. In 2011, American TV was forced to close all four of its stores in St. Louis. The reason given at the time was that the recession had hit the St. Louis area harder than most of the company, and its stores there were performing badly for years.

(MORE: Best Buy’s Unlikely Return from the Dead)

Last March, according to the Wisconsin State Journal, American TV said that its enormous stores—typically well over 100,000 square feet apiece—would stop selling small electronics such as cameras, computers, and car audio systems. A company spokesperson explained that the move to eliminate “categories that are simply very mature or challenged” was necessary to “address the changing retail landscape.” Presumably, this means it was proving impossible for American TV to turn a profit selling smaller gadgets, which is unsurprising given the fierceness of the competition online and in stores for this category of goods.

In a press release, American TV pointed to an “unforgiving” economy over the past five years as a key reason it was “closing our business forever.” The previously mentioned “changing retail landscape” is probably an even bigger reason that the American TV & Appliance is going the way of Circuit City, Borders, and Blockbuster.

4 comments
leon1376
leon1376

Brick and mortar stores have to worry about a lot more than sales tax. There's ObamaCare and building maintenance and ObamaCare and utilities and ObamaCare and employee theft and ObamaCare and shoplifting and ObamaCare and seasonal staffing and ObamaCare and Big Box stores and ObamaCare and unions and ObamaCare and....well, you get the idea  By the way, has anyone noticed that Chinese merchants are selling directly on Ebay nowadays? That's right, kiddies. They unload the shipping container directly into the UPS or FedEx pipeline. In a few years you'll order almost everything from offshore. Meanwhile, those 989 people who lost their jobs are now free to pursue their dreams of painting and writing poetry and growing orchids. Or just chilling out. Obama will see that all their basic needs are being met. How cool is that? 

formeat
formeat

Don't count out brick-and-mortars. The main reason online purchasing was so advantageous up until now was the lack of being charged state sales tax. But that loophole has closed. You'll also notice that free delivery is tightening up. Amazon now requires a minimum $35 (up from $25), and that assumes everything you've ordered is eligible for free shipping at all. So, if a local store matches an online price, you'll save money buying there. Oh, and did I mention you'll get it TODAY?

Openminded1
Openminded1

Greed by the ownership was the real problem, they tried to gross everyone on every sale, competition kicked their butts based on volume and better pricing.

formeat
formeat

@leon1376 Where do you think online retailers house their goods? In cyberspace? Those massive warehouses also require, "building maintenance," and, "utilities," and suffer from, "employee theft." I have no idea how unions fit into your bizarre equation. And the whole idea behind eBay is, "selling directly." Brick-and-mortars sell there, too. Let me repeat (and I'm typing this slow so you'll understand): Unless you're getting a better price, *AND* free shipping, *AND* are willing to wait 4 to 7 days, you're better off buying locally now.