Probably the first Fry's Electronics I ever went to was probably back in 1991, when I moved to Fremont, CA. That was still early in the personal computer era, when PC meant "IBM PC clone" and even regular people like me swapped out motherboards, added RAM, and installed ports for individual devices like scanners. Fry's was an electronics store for electronics geeks, kind of a Costco-sized cross between Radio Shack and some Silicon Valley garage startup, but as I said, even regular people back then knew how to open up their computers to add "chips" and such.
In fact, once I went to Fry's and bought a new motherboard so I could upgrade my computer. I got it home, swapped out the old motherboard, and fired up my computer. A couple minutes later, my computer randomly rebooted itself. A few minutes after that, it rebooted itself again. And a few minutes after that. I took the obviously-faulty motherboard out and took it back to the store, where I was given a new motherboard. I got out of there quickly, having noticed that this new motherboard had 256k of onboard cache on it--bonus!!! My computer ran like a champ after that! Back then, in the X86 days, even novices knew about things like "cache" on a motherboard and could spot such an upgrade.
Fry's stores were big. I remember once, in the early-to-mid-90's, I saw a couple of tour buses pull up outside of the Sunnyvale Fry's. Scores, scores, of Japanese tourists, cameras around their necks, flowed out of the buses and into Fry's. I was told they could buy products here in the US and ship them back to Japan for less than they could buy them in Japan! Computers, TV's, VCR's (it was the early-to-mid-90's!), stereos, you name it.
The people who worked at Fry's were computer geeks, not truly sales people. Customer service wasn't really a thing at Fry's; in fact, it was truly not uncommon to see and hear an employee yelling at a customer! I kid you not, that was their reputation.
In 1996, Fry's took over my favorite electronics store in the Sacramento area, Incredible Universe; that disappointed me. Later they expanded to Roseville, not too far from my house. Each Fry's store had a theme, and the theme of the Roseville store was the railroad, no doubt in honor of the (formerly Southern Pacific but now) Union Pacific railyard in the city--from which my dad retired.
Last year my dad and I noticed the shelves at Fry's getting empty and not being restocked, and just today I learned why:
Fry’s Electronics is going out of business.
KRON4 has confirmed that the iconic Bay Area retailer is permanently closing the doors of all stores nationwide.
The company has changed its website so that it now just shows a goodbye message...
The company aimed to “provide a one-stop-shopping environment for the Hi-Tech Professional,” selling over 50,000 electronic items in each store, which ranged anywhere between 50,000 to 180,000 square feet.
Like Circuit City and Radio Shack before it, Fry's is now just a memory.
(The real Circuit City went bankrupt in 2009, and Radio Shack is now just a shadow of its former self.)
Update, 2/25/21: Here's another "personal" story of Fry's. And add CompUSA to the list of long-gone techie stores.