After 60 Years, Circuit City Closes

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Circuit City closed its doors for the last time Sunday night after 60 years in business. What was the nation's second largest electronics retailer, is in the final stages of being liquidated. About 34,000 people lost their jobs.


Circuit City is out of business after 60 years. The chain once had more than 500 stores around the country and employed 34,000 people. Now, only a small staff remains at headquarters to finish the liquidation.

NPR's Allison Keyes reports.

ALLISON KEYES: Inside one northern Virginia store the scene was surreal. Some workers dismantled shelves and fixtures for sale, while others took screwdrivers to displays for satellite radios, pulling the tiny black receivers out to hand to shoppers with outstretched hands. Bargain hunters like Steven Tim Young(ph) flooded the parking lot.

Mr. STEVEN TIM YOUNG: I got (unintelligible).

KEYES: Even though the store was virtually picked clean, Tim Young said there were some good deals.

Mr. YOUNG: It is actually 50 percent of the regular price online.

KEYES: Other shoppers like Patty Johnson(ph) came out of the store bereft of all that their memories of better times for this once bustling store.

Ms. PATTY JOHNSON: I brought my refrigerator here and then I got it back in 1999, it still works.

KEYES: But on this trip she says there were no bargains to be had.

Ms. JOHNSON: Everything was sold - cable wires and that's it.

KEYES: Like many here, Johnson says she feels bad for the 34,000 people who are loosing their jobs.

Ms. JOHNSON: It's very sad to see them close down.

KEYES: On Wednesday, a house subcommittee is holding a hearing on why bankruptcy failed to save the company.

Allison Keyes, NPR News, Washington.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Circuit City Stores Set To Close For Good

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

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.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from