Fry's Electronics

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Fry's Electronics, Inc.
Industry Retail
Founded 1985; 33 years ago (1985)
Founder John Fry
William Randolph "Randy" Fry
David Fry
Kathryn Kolder
Headquarters San Jose, California, U.S.
Number of locations
Key people
John Fry, CEO
William Randolph "Randy" Fry, President
David Fry, CFO / CIO
Kathryn Kolder, Executive Vice President
Products Consumer electronics retail
Revenue $2.00 billion (2011)[1]
Number of employees
13,999 (2011)[1]

Fry's Electronics is an American big-box store and retailer of software, consumer electronics, household appliances and computer hardware. Fry's has in-store computer repair and custom computer building services. The company has a chain of superstores headquartered in Silicon Valley. Starting with one store located in Sunnyvale, California, the chain posted sales of $2.4 billion and operated 34 stores in nine states by 2008.[2]


Industrial revolution themed store in the City of Industry, California.
Fry's Electronics store in Downers Grove, Illinois.
Fry's Electronics oldest operating store in Palo Alto, California.
History of Silicon Valley themed store in Sunnyvale, California.
Space Station themed store near the Johnson Space Center in Webster, Texas.

In 1972, Charles Fry sold the Fry's Supermarkets chain based in California for US$14 million to Save Mart Supermarkets. He gave a portion of the proceeds, approximately $1 million, to each of his sons, John (who had worked as the IT manager for the supermarket chain), W. Randolph (who goes by the nickname "Randy") and David, neither of whom had much interest in grocery store retailing .[3][4] Instead, in 1985, they joined together with a fourth partner, John's former girlfriend Kathryn Kolder, to open the first Fry's Electronics store at a 20,000 sq ft (1,900 m2) site in Sunnyvale, California.[5] Today, Fry's Food and Drug stores are owned and operated by Kroger and are not affiliated with Fry's Electronics, although they share an almost identical logo.[6]

It was John's idea to use the model of grocery retailing, which the brothers were familiar with, to sell computer and electronics supplies.[7] The original Sunnyvale store (located near the intersection of Oakmead Parkway and Lakeside Drive) stocked numerous high-tech supplies such as integrated circuits, test and measurement equipment, and computer components, as well as software and various other types of consumer electronics. The store was and still is one of the few retail outlets in the country that sold off-the-shelf microprocessors such as the Intel 80286. The store also sold T-shirts, technical books, potato chips, and magazines, including Playboy. At first, approximately half the store was stocked with groceries including fresh produce, but the groceries section quickly diminished to displays of soft drinks and snack foods. The store billed itself as "The One-Stop Shop for the Silicon Valley Professional", as one could buy both electronics and groceries (computer chips and potato chips) at the same time.[citation needed]

As the business expanded, the original Sunnyvale store was closed[when?], and a newer, larger store was opened across Lawrence Expressway on Kern Avenue. The second Sunnyvale store was designed to look like the interior of a giant computer; the walls were adorned with simulated circuit components, and the floor resembled a giant printed circuit board. The exterior was painted to mimic a huge DIP integrated circuit, and the door handles imitated the ENTER and ESC keys on a computer keyboard; as of 2007, this store is now a Sports Basement store (which still bears some of the door handle keys). Fry's moved again[when?] to its current Sunnyvale location on the corner of Arques and Santa Trinita Ave, the former site of a facility of the Link Flight Simulation Division of the Singer Corporation. Each of the Sunnyvale store locations has been located within one mile (1.6 km) of the others.[citation needed]

In 1996, for reasons that the Fry brothers have never publicly disclosed, they transferred all their shares of Fry's Electronics to a limited liability company called RDL, LLC, and a limited partnership called The Taw, L.P. (the latter also controls the former), and since then, they have controlled Fry's Electronics indirectly through those entities. Their existence became publicly known in January 2012 because Randy Fry's ex-wife, Laurie Hammer, had attempted to challenge a post-nuptial settlement agreement under which she agreed to accept "units" of The Taw in settlement of her claims against Randy. On January 23, 2012, the California Court of Appeal for the Sixth District upheld the trial court's dismissal of her lawsuit in an unpublished opinion.[citation needed]

Because Fry's stores are enormous, often stocking dozens of variations of a single type of product, they are popular with electronics and computer hobbyists. One of the few stores to challenge Fry's in all dimensions (production selection and store-wide themes) was Incredible Universe, a series of Tandy (Radio Shack) superstores, which were established in 1992 and absorbed into Fry's in 1996. Historically, Circuit City and CompUSA were major competitors in the computer space, but they collapsed during the late-2000s recession, leaving Microcenter and Best Buy as Fry's main competitors. Unlike Best Buy, Fry's sells not only fully assembled computers, but all the individual components which consumers need to build their own from scratch.[citation needed]

As of August 2014, Fry's Electronics operated 34 brick-and-mortar stores in nine U.S. states: California (17 stores); Texas (8); Arizona (2); Georgia (2); Illinois (1); Indiana (1); Nevada (1); Oregon (1); and Washington (1).[8]

Store themes[edit]

Various Fry's locations are decorated in elaborate themes. For example, the Burbank store which opened in 1995 carries a theme of 1950s and 1970s science fiction movies, and features huge statues of popular characters such as the robot Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still and Darth Vader from the Star Wars movie series. In addition, giant ants (from the movie Them!) hang from the ceiling, and the bodies of 1957 Chevys and Buicks serve as dining tables in the cafe. A flying saucer protrudes above the entrance.[citation needed]

Since Fry's acquired the Incredible Universe chain of stores, the company has reduced the elaborateness of its themes. With the opening of the store in Fishers, Indiana, Fry's made a "race track" theme with various hanging displays, including "stop" and "go" signs, as well as many early life photos of what life looked like in late 1800s and early 1900s in Indianapolis, Indiana.[citation needed]


In 1997, Forbes reported on a series of issues about Fry's customer service and unorthodox business practices. Among the allegations was that the company had an internal policy, identified as "the double H" or "hoops and hurdles", to delay or prevent customers from obtaining refunds.[9]

In 1998, USA Today reported that many customers had become frustrated with poor customer service at Fry's stores.[10]

Fry's advertising methods have also gone under heavy fire. In 2003, actors Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sued Fry's for $10 million each for posting their images on television sets on their print ads and flyers without permission.[11]

On Black Friday 2007, customers at the Renton, Washington, location complained that Fry's employees were offering to let people cut in front of a long line for a fee. After complaints in the media, Fry's management offered anyone who paid the fee their money back.[12]

In 2008, Fry's vice president of merchandising and operations, Ausuf Umar Siddiqui, was charged by federal prosecutors in an illegal kickback scheme involving Fry's vendors. The alleged scheme was designed to defraud the company in order to cover Siddiqui's gambling expenses.[13]

In September 2012, Fry's Electronics agreed to pay $2.3 million and to implement preventive measures to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The settlement was in relation to allegations that an assistant store manager at the Renton store harassed a 20-year-old sales associate by frequently sending her sexually charged text messages and inviting her to his house to drink. After her direct supervisor reported the harassment to Fry's legal department, the company allegedly fired the female salesperson and fired her supervisor for standing up for her.[14]

Online sales operation[edit]

Fry's Electronics was late in establishing an online sales presence. They began offering low-cost Internet access in 2000 through their original Web address "".[15] The company later bought e-commerce site Cyberian Outpost in November 2001 and started online sales with a different URL (,[16] which confused customers who didn't associate the online name with the brick-and-mortar store.[17] For a time in the mid-2000s the Web site identified itself as "Fry's Electronics", using dual branding in an attempt to create a connection in visitors' minds.[18] In October 2006, a grand re-opening of introduced the online store with the same name as the retail outlets.[19][20] The URL now redirects to the online store.

Domain name acquisitions[edit]

The domain name was owned in 1997 by David Peter, a.k.a. David Peter Burlini,[21] who manufactured and sold French fry vending machines under the business name Frenchy Frys and who was also involved in another dispute over the domain with Ricochet Networks.[21] David Burlini[22] attended Santa Clara University around the same time that the Fry Brothers were attending.[23] Fry's Electronics brought suit against him that year, alleging trademark infringement, and ultimately prevailed in a default judgment.[24][25]

Since then, Fry's Electronics has aggressively tried to defend its trademark and domain names. In 2001, it threatened to sue Garret Maki for scanning and posting the company's print ads on the Web using the domain[26] In 2007, Fry's Electronics lost a domain dispute against Prophet Partners Inc., an online advertising company with thousands of generic and descriptive domain names. The arbitrator dismissed the complaint, which requested transfer of the domain, ruling that Fry's Electronics did not have any more right to use the "Fry's" mark than other entities with a similar surname or commercial use of the word.[27]


  1. ^ a b "#210 Fry's Electronics". Forbes. 201. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  2. ^ "Fry's Electronics, Inc. Overview". Hoover's, Inc. 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  3. ^ Pat Lopes Harris, "Fry's mystique: timing, focus, frugality—and lots of advertising", San Jose Business Journal 17, no. 39 (14 January 2000): 52.
  4. ^ Marsh, Ann (November 3, 2007). "The customer is always right? Not at Fry's". Forbes. 
  5. ^ "Corporation Search: Fry's Electronics". California Business Portal. California Secretary of State. 2009. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  6. ^ "Kroger's Corporate Home on the Web". The Kroger Co. 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  7. ^ "History of Fry's Electronics, Inc. – FundingUniverse". Retrieved 2018-06-05. 
  8. ^ "The History of Frys Electronics". Frys. 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-03. 
  9. ^ Ann Marsh and Scott Woolley (3 November 1997). "The customer is always right? Not at Fry's". Forbes. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  10. ^ Julie Schmit (11 February 1998). "Techies flock to Fry's despite its flaws". USA Today. p. 1B. 
  11. ^ News wire (20 June 2003). "Arnold, Bruce, Denzel Sue Fry's". ExtremeTech. Ziff Davis Publishing. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  12. ^ Bernard Choi (23 November 2007). "Fry's Shoppers Offered Chance to Cut in Line - For a Price". KING 5 News. Archived from the original on October 7, 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  13. ^ Jordan Robertson (8 January 2009). "Feds indict former Fry's exec accused of embezzling". The Daily Breeze. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  14. ^ "Fry's Electronics Pays $2.3 Million to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit". The National Law Review. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 2012-09-02. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  15. ^ "Fry's Electronics Home Page:". Fry's Electronics. 2000. Archived from the original on 2000-10-18. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  16. ^ "Welcome to Fry's". Cyberian Outpost, Inc. 2002. Archived from the original on 2002-09-14. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  17. ^ Natali T. Del Conte (27 October 2006). "Fry's Electronics (Finally) Launches Online Store". ExtremeTech. Ziff Davis Publishing. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  18. ^ For example, see this archived version of the site home page from 2005:
  19. ^ Greg Sandoval and Jeff Pelline (18 February 2000). "Fry's may launch ISP as part of new Net strategy". CNET News. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  20. ^ Michelle Quinn (21 October 2006). "California: Fry's Electronics Steps up Web Presence". The San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  21. ^ a b Arbitration and Mediation Center. "WIPO Domain Name Decision: D2002-0168". Retrieved 2011-08-18. 
  22. ^ "Santa Clara University, Santa clara, California (CA)". Retrieved 2011-08-18. 
  23. ^ "About Santa Clara University - Notable Alumni". Retrieved 2011-08-18. [dead link]
  24. ^ Mitchell Zimmerman (1998). "Securing and Protecting a Domain Name for your Web Site" (PDF). Fenwick & West LLP. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  25. ^ Will Harper (19 August 1999). "Invasion of the Domain Snatchers". Metroactive. Metro Publishing Inc. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  26. ^ Greg Sandoval (23 February 2001). "Fry's accuses site owner of cybersquatting". CNET News. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  27. ^ Steven M. Bauer, Esq. (15 February 2007). "Reward of Arbitrator: Fry's Electronics and Prophet Partners" (PDF). American Arbitration Association. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 

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