This weekend, the nation sees the closing of yet another big box store. Circuit City was once the nation's second largest consumer electronics retailer, with 567 U.S. stores and 34,000 employees. After 60 years in business, the store will close for good on Sunday.
Walk through the automatic doors into what was once a store chock-full of TVs and stereos and bustling red-shirted associates — and you feel like you're in the wrong place. The place is fast becoming a ghost town, with a few scavengers scuttling around to pick clean the bones. The shelves are nearly empty except for a few stray printers. There are a few hard drives — 1 terabyte for $112 — a single $80 Panasonic HDTV digital receiver, a $400 wooden entertainment center marked down from $2,000. There are a lot of cables and wires, and lots of copies of the book, Digital SLR Cameras and Photography For Dummies — marked down from $30 to $2.99.
Kirk Howard of Washington, D.C., wanders along an aisle that was empty of everything except for a few lonely-looking laptops. "Actually, we were looking for some TVs and some DVDs."
Howard waxes nostalgic about the jobs being lost here and the store itself. "Back in the '70s, we used to shop here a whole lot," he said. "Seeing it go kind of does something to me a little bit, because they've been around for a while."
He's not going home with much to remember his final trip. "Actually, there are really no deals, because everything is gone."
"We bought our first TV here before we ever got married," Cynthia Evans says, "and we still have it." She and her husband say they'll miss the store, as they load fixtures into their pickup. The shelves will go to the student council association at a local elementary school.
"They were really nice. They had this fixture marked $125 and gave it to the school for 10 bucks."
Evans says it's sad to lose the store, but employees seem to be trying to make the best of it. "Last night when we were here, they were playing soccer and enjoying their last evening of being in the store alone," she says.
Greg Lowery of Alexandria, Va., is another customer who has spent a lot of time here recently — every day, he says — taking advantage of last-minute deals. His bag bulges as he leaves the store.
"It's kind of sad to see them go," he says, but his gloom quickly passes. "I got me a 1-terabyte hard drive and got me a big ol' 52-inch TV, so I'm good!"
Circuit City's stores will all be closed as of Sunday night. A small staff will remain at the corporate office to finish shutting down the company.