James Barrett, Chicago CE Retailer, Dies

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Naperville, Ill. - James R. Barrett, 80, founder of what is now Barrett's Technology Solutions, died recently at Hope Hospice, near his winter home in Bonita Springs, Fla.

Barrett began his CE retailing career at Polk Brothers, the appliance and electronics retailer in Chicago during the late 1950s, according to a family statement.

He founded Barrett Magnavox in 1966 in Oak Park, Ill., in the western suburbs of Chicago, which later became Barrett's Audio/Video and Barrett's Home Theater.

Barrett began selling console stereos and TVs and expanded with the explosion of demand for color televisions in the late 1960s.

Locating his stores in the new malls of the early 1970s provided the platform for his stores success through the 1980s. In 1972, he signed one of the first authorized dealer agreements with MGA (later Mitsubishi) introducing  big-screen TVs to the greater Chicagoland market, according to a family statement.

 In the early 1970s, Barrett's business also grew with sales from home audio equipment. An advocate of limited distribution, Barrett used his strong personality to hold manufacturers accountable as regional and national big-box operators expanded their presence, according to the statement.  

Today, Barrett's is operated by Jim's son Joseph as Barrett's Technology Solutions (


), in Naperville, a specialty retailer/system integrator that is part of the Home Technology Specialists of America (HTSA) buying group. 

Barrett is survived by his wife of 60 years, Mary Koebel Barrett; a sister; three sons, including Joseph; a daughter; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A memorial service is planned for Friday, May 18, a day after what would have been his 81st birthday. It will be held in St. Isaac Jogues Church, 411 S. Clay Street, Hinsdale, IL. Visitation will be from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Mass will be held at 10:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to Misericordia at 6300 N. Ridge, Chicago, IL 60660, where Barrett's nephew resides.


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