Fry's Electronics

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Fry's Electronics, Inc.
FoundedMay 17, 1985; 35 years ago (1985-05-17)
Sunnyvale, California, U.S.
FoundersJohn Fry
William Randolph "Randy" Fry
David Fry
San Jose, California
Number of locations
28 (as of January 2021)[1]
Key people
John Fry, CEO
William Randolph "Randy" Fry, President
David Fry, CFO / CIO
Kathryn Kolder, Executive Vice President
ProductsConsumer electronics retail
RevenueDecrease US$2.3 billion (2018)[2]
Number of employees
14,000 (2018)[2]

Fry's Electronics is an American big-box store and retailer of software, consumer electronics, household appliances, cosmetics, tools, toys, gift accessories, magazines, books on specialized areas of electronics, 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 operated 34 stores in 9 states by 2019,[2] and as of January 2021 operates 28 stores.[1]


Industrial revolution themed store in the City of Industry, California.
Fry's Electronics store in Downers Grove, Illinois.
Fry's Electronics oldest operating store (now closed) 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 Dillons.[3] 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, none of whom had much interest in grocery store retailing.[4][5] Instead, on May 17, 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.[6] 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.[7]

It was John's idea to use the model of grocery retailing, which the brothers were familiar with, to sell computer and electronics supplies.[8] 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 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; since 2007, this store has housed 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 1 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 bought out and converted 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 Newegg as Fry's main competitors.

In August 2014, Fry's Electronics operated 34 brick-and-mortar stores in 9 U.S. states: California (17); Texas (8); Arizona (2); Georgia (2); Illinois (1); Indiana (1); Nevada (1); Oregon (1); and Washington (1).[9]

In August 2019, Fry's announced that it would close its oldest location in Palo Alto, by January 2020; the company said its lease at the location would not be renewed.[10] On September 10, 2019, The Mercury News reported that customers were finding barren shelves in most stores, speculating that the chain was about to fold; Fry's responded by stating the company was changing to a consignment model with its vendors and was not planning to close any store other than the Palo Alto location.[11] However, on January 7, 2020, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Fry's location in Duluth, Georgia was shuttered without advance notice during the 2019 holiday season.[12] On February 25, 2020, Fry's announced that they would close its Anaheim location by March 2, 2020.[13] On November 10, 2020, Fry's closed its Campbell location permanently without notice.


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.[14]

In 1998, USA Today reported that many customers had become frustrated with poor customer service at Fry's stores.[15]

Fry's advertising methods have also gone under heavy fire. In 2003, actors Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis and future 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.[16][17]

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.[18]

In 2008, Fry's vice president of merchandising and operations, Ausaf 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. Siddiqui used the funds to supplement his lavish gambling habits in Las Vegas where he lost approximately $162 million.[19]

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.[20]

In 2019, rumors about the chain folding were rapidly spreading, mainly due to much of the shelves remaining empty for long periods of time and seeming to put more of an emphasis on makeup and fragrances than on electronics. Fry's Electronics responded by stating they were just switching to a consignment model, and not closing down entirely. However, since Fry's has put out this statement, 4 additional stores have closed, 3 of which were in California, and 1 in Georgia, which has further led much of the public to believe that Fry's Electronics could go out of business at any given time.

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 "".[21] The company later bought e-commerce site Cyberian Outpost in November 2001 and started online sales with a different URL (,[22] which confused customers who didn't associate the online name with the brick-and-mortar store.[23] 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.[24] In October 2006, a grand re-opening of introduced the online store with the same name as the retail outlets.[25][26] The URL now redirects to the Fry's online store.

Domain name acquisitions[edit]

In 1997, David Peter, a.k.a. David Peter Burlini, who manufactured and sold French fry vending machines under the business name Frenchy Frys, owned the domain name and was also involved in another dispute over the domain with Ricochet Networks.[27] David Burlini attended Santa Clara University around the same time that the Fry Brothers were attending.[28][29] Fry's Electronics brought suit against him that year, alleging trademark infringement, and ultimately prevailed in a default judgment.[30][31]

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[32] 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.[33]

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 six stores from 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.[citation needed]

Location State Theme
Phoenix Arizona Aztec temple
Tempe Arizona Golf
Anaheim (Closed March 2, 2020) California Space Shuttle
Burbank California 1950’s science fiction
Campbell (Closed Nov. 10, 2020) California Ancient Egypt
City of Industry California Industrial Revolution / Steampunk
Concord California Regional history
Fountain Valley California Ruins of Ancient Rome
Fremont California 1893 World’s Fair
Manhattan Beach California Tahiti
Oxnard California Agricultural history
Palo Alto (Closed Dec 27, 2019) California Wild West
Roseville California Railroads
Sacramento California (Closed December 2020) Gold Rush
San Diego California Aircraft carrier
San Jose California Mayan temple (Chichen Itza)
San Marcos California Atlantis
Sunnyvale California History of Silicon Valley
Woodland Hills California Alice in Wonderland
Duluth (Closed Dec 3, 2019) Georgia Regional history
Milton Georgia Regional history
Downers Grove Illinois Regional history
Fishers Indiana Automobile racing
Wilsonville Oregon Northwestern Forests
Las Vegas Nevada Las Vegas Strip
Arlington Texas Incredible Universe
Austin Texas Live music
Dallas Texas Cattle ranch
Houston Texas Oil derricks
Houston (SW) Texas Houston history
Irving Texas Regional history
Plano Texas Railroads
Webster Texas International Space Station
Renton Washington Regional history


  1. ^ a b Retrieved June 3, 2020
  2. ^ a b c "#205 Fry's Electronics". Forbes. 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  3. ^ "Dillon Companies Agrees to Buy Food Store Chain". Lawrence Journal-World. May 26, 1972. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  4. ^ Harris, Pat Lopes (14 January 2000). "Fry's mystique: timing, focus, frugality—and lots of advertising", San Jose Business Journal 17, no. 39: p. 52.
  5. ^ Marsh, Ann (November 3, 2007). "The customer is always right? Not at Fry's". Forbes.
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ "Grocery Retail". The Kroger Co. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  8. ^ "History of Fry's Electronics, Inc". Funding Universe. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  9. ^ "The History of Frys Electronics". Frys. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
  10. ^ Angst, Maggie (August 29, 2019). "Fry's to close its Palo Alto doors for good in January". The Mercury News. San Jose. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
  11. ^ Sumagaysay, Levi (September 10, 2019). "Fry's tries to quell rumors of its demise as customers worry about empty shelves". The Mercury News. Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  12. ^ Coyne, Amanda C. (January 7, 2020). "Fry's Electronics near Gwinnett Place Mall has closed". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  13. ^ Smith, Kevin (February 25, 2020). "Fry's Electronics in Anaheim to close March 2". The Orange County Register. Anaheim.
  14. ^ Marsh, Ann; Woolley, Scott (3 November 1997). "The customer is always right? Not at Fry's". Forbes. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
  15. ^ Schmit, Julie (11 February 1998). "Techies flock to Fry's despite its flaws". USA Today. p. 1B.
  16. ^ "Arnold, Bruce, Denzel Sue Fry's". ExtremeTech. 20 June 2003. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
  17. ^ Silverman, Stephen M. (April 10, 2003). "Arnold, Bruce and Denzel Take Action". People. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  18. ^ Choi, Bernard (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.
  19. ^ Robertson, Jordan (8 January 2009). "Feds indict former Fry's exec accused of embezzling". Daily Breeze. Torrence, Calif. Archived from the original on 2009-01-11. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  20. ^ "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. September 2, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-13.
  21. ^ "Welcome to Fry'". Fry's Electronics. Archived from the original on 2000-10-18. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
  22. ^ "Welcome to Fry's". Cyberian Outpost, Inc. Archived from the original on 2002-09-14. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
  23. ^ Del Conte, Natali T. (27 October 2006). "Fry's Electronics (Finally) Launches Online Store". ExtremeTech. Ziff Davis Publishing. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
  24. ^ For example, see this archived version of the site home page from 2005
  25. ^ Sandoval, Greg; Jeff Pelline (18 February 2000). "Fry's may launch ISP as part of new Net strategy". CNET News. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
  26. ^ Quinn, Michelle (21 October 2006). "California: Fry's Electronics Steps up Web Presence". The Mercury News. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
  27. ^ WIPO 01686 (June 4, 2002).
  28. ^ "Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California". Retrieved 2011-08-18.
  29. ^ "Business and Engineering - Notable Alumni". Santa Clara University. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  30. ^ Zimmerman, Mitchell (1998). "Securing and Protecting a Domain Name for your Web Site" (PDF). Fenwick & West LLP. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
  31. ^ Harper, Will (19 August 1999). "Invasion of the Domain Snatchers". Metroactive. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
  32. ^ Sandoval, Greg (23 February 2001). "Fry's accuses site owner of cybersquatting". CNET News. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
  33. ^ Bauer, Esq., Steven M. (15 February 2007). "Reward of Arbitrator: Fry's Electronics and Prophet Partners" (PDF). American Arbitration Association. Retrieved 2009-03-17. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

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