Retailing Briefs

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End Of An Era

San Francisco — Going-out-of-business sales at the Bay Area's first Tower Records location mark the end of the music chain and the era of the record shop (see photo above). The company is on the auction block after filing for bankruptcy protection for the second time in three years, a victim of digital downloads and loss leader pricing by discounters. The store, which opened near Fisherman's Wharf in 1968 and hearkens back to the legendary San Francisco music scene, was the company's first outside its original Sacramento, Calif., trading area.

Apple Flagship Store Marks Millionth Visitor

New York — Less than four months after opening its doors, Apple's new flagship store on Manhattan's Fifth Ave. celebrated its millionth visitor. The surprised shopper was given a black MacBook, an iPod, and iPod Hi-Fi and an Apple ProCare membership to mark the occasion. The flagship, which is open 24-7, has seen an average of 8,772 visitors a day — compared to about 4,000 shoppers per week at Apple's other retail stores. Apple plans to open its third New York City shop in the shadow of the Empire State Building on W. 34th St. between Fifth and Sixth Aves.

Fry's Launches Eponymous Web Site

San Jose, Calif. — Five years after entering the e-commerce channel and nine years after securing the URL, Fry's has finally put its own name on its online store. Last month the IT/CE discount chain re-launched as, with a "grand opening sale" and free shipping promotion to mark the occasion. Until now the big box retailer had been represented online by, the pioneering CE cyber store that it acquired for $8 million in 2001. The wholly-owned subsidiary provided Fry's with its first e-commerce platform and a built-in database of 1.5 million customers, but with the California company expanding into additional markets including Atlanta, Chicago and Las Vegas, a consistent Internet presence was called for.

Circuit City's Warranty Sales Soar

Richmond, Va. — Sales of extended warranties grew at a double-digit clip for both the fiscal second quarter and six-month periods at Circuit City. For the second quarter ended Aug. 31, net sales of extended service plans grew 10.6 percent year-over-year to $107.7 million, representing 4 percent of all domestic sales. For the first half of the company's fiscal year, warranty sales grew nearly 10 percent to $200 million, representing 3.9 percent of all domestic sales. Analysts had expected Circuit City's warranty sales to decline after the chain moved its sales associates from a commissioned to an hourly-only compensation plan. The company will no longer break out extended warranty sales in its financial reports effective fiscal year 2008.


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