Before my trip to California last year, I'd never actually been to a Frys Electronics, a ginormous Computer and Electronics Superstore that is as big if not bigger than a Costco. Although Costco has electronics too, they fill it with useless non geeky stuff like food and stuff. I mean, who needs that stuff anyway? Frys is completely filled with all the Electronics and Computer Hardware that you could ever imagine, all under one roof. Instead of filling your grocery carts with groceries and 100 ton tubs of mayonaise like at Costco or your regular supermarket, you can observe people wheeling out cart loads of electronics and computer stuff.
When I went to the one in San Marco, California last year, I noticed that it sported some weird underwater theme that made me think that they reclaimed some defunct seafood buffet restaurant. I asked one of the shirt and tie people at the store about it and was told that they do this on purpose. In fact, every Frys store has some weird seemingly nothing to do with that they sell theme. Apparently, one of the "Frys" likes this. Last week, when I headed down to Renton, Washington for a Q4 shopping trip, the one there, which is located right beside one of the BOEING plants, looked like an old Roman Colloseum inside. Rather weird, but oh well. They are chalked full of goodness inside.
The computer section of every Frys contains huge aisles of all your favourite computer cases and another wall of motherboards. These just aren't cheap ass boards. They had all the main name brands like ASUS, INTEL, eVGA, XFX, the works! They were all out of the package, and you could touch and feel everything! Even the cases weren't cheapie cases. They had mainly name brand cases from ANTEC, Thermaltake, CoolerMaster and Shuttle. They even had tons of testing equipment, networking equipment, and all the small hard to find parts that you need to pay a ton for. If you ever wanted to do a hands on with anything before you bought it, this is definitely the place to come. I was going to take more pictures, but "Chuck" and his agents were roaming around in full force. This place has a lot of staff and based on the things going out to the parking lot (Shopping carts full of electronics ala Costco Style), they can afford to have the help. However, this place is really for geeks and enthusiasts so even though the help kinda sucks in the knowledge department, it's not a big deal because if you really did need help, you could probably ask one of the customers. The "Chucks" are just there to help you take your stuff to the car and take your money.
One of the things about Frys is that you can easily get lost in the aisles and aisles of geeky goodness. This can lead to hunger and thirst due to all the drooling one can do while roaming this tech wonderland. I spent a total of 4 hrs just roaming the place and had to stop in their cafeteria to grab a bite to eat and rest my feet. The first time I went to Frys in California, I was there for 6 hrs, and almost had to have dinner. I was amazed that I was able to cut my visit down to 4 hrs. The food isn't particularly good, but it's decent for one of the happiest places that a techie geek could go.
I didn't end up spending a ton of money there, though I easily could have. However, I did make it out of there with an iRobot Roomba 530 Vacuum Cleaning Robot, a Nintendo Wii Fit, some Xbox Live Cards, and a prepaid US cellphone among other things. The funny thing about this place is that super hot items are always dropped in the middle of the floor on a pallet. Most of the time its electronics and computer stuff, but sometimes, they drop the odd occasional pallet of beef jerky or Perrier water. Geeks need to snack too you know. Although it is nearly impossible to find Wii Fit in Canada, this store had a huge pile of them that the employees thought it'd be funny to build a small castle with to taunt us Canucks. I guess they don't like getting in shape in the US. They also sell them for $89.99 vs $99.99 in Canada. Xbox Live cards are 20% less across the board, but there is a trick to using the points cards which I'll explain in another post.
Now, I'm not saying that they have the best prices on earth. If I shopped online, I could have something shipped to me and at a better price, but shipped is the operative word. I can walk right into Frys, roam around slack jawed for 4 hours or more, and have a good time gawking at gadgets. Having said that, when they do have a flyer special, it's loss leader city. In the last flyer, which I just missed, they had an EVGA 780i Motherboard and INTEL Q6600 CPU combo for $349. To give you an idea of how cheap that is, the lowest I've seen the CPU at is $209 and the board was as low as $249. If you're familiar with the markup on computer stuff, you know that no one makes that much on computer parts. Like a Costco, they don't deal or match prices and stuff, but they don't require a membership which is great. I don't know if their return policies are is uber though.
I hope iPhone Gary now adds this to his list of places to visit while hitting the outlets next time. I couldn't believe it when he said "Frys? What's that?" It's like saying...umm...what's an iPhone? Speaking of iPhone, although they don't sell that toy specifically, they do have an Apple Castle in the middle of each store for all you iPeoples out there. If geeks had a church, Frys would be it. It's truly an EPIC Geeky Experience.