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Local News

Thursday, 8 March, 2007 3:16 PM

Shoppers are caught by surprise by CompUSA's store closings

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

The CompUSA store on Ford Road in Detroit is closing its doors for good.
by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

CompUSA has decided to close 126 of its stores nationwide including seven within the state of Michigan. Lansing will be the only store location that remains open in the state.

The electronics retailer is in the middle of a restructuring phase. The company has been losing money for the last 18 months and hasn’t turned a profit since. CompUSA was also accumulating large debts with its business partners.

Based on changing conditions in the consumer retail electronics market, the company identified the need to close and sell stores with low performance or non strategic, old store layouts and locations faced with market saturation,” said Roman Ross, CEO of CompUSA.

Shoppers have lots of options when it comes to buying electronics. Competition from surrounding retailers is one of the reasons why CompUSA is shutting its doors. Online retailers such as Amazon and eBay are also possible factors behind the decision.

CompUSA is closing all its Michigan stores except for one. Stores in Troy, Detroit, Utica, Ann Arbor, Orion/Auburn Hills, Novi and Grand Rapids will be closing in less than 90 days. However, the Lansing store is saved. A sales associate said the Lansing store has purchasing contracts with the government and is more profitable.

The owner was making bad business decisions. We got huge debt. The company has not made money,” said Alex Kliza, a sales associate at the Detroit store. “I saw it coming because of the cutbacks.

The Ford Road location originally had 56 employees. Just three weeks ago, 22 of them were laid off. Only two week ago, six more employees lost their jobs. Kliza is going to lose his job but will continue to work there until the very end.

Employees found out about the closing on Feb. 28th. However, one sales associate knew of the closing in advance while visiting a blog. Employees will receive two weeks of severance pay while searching for a new job.

Brian Bonner, a customer from Dearborn Heights, was surprised to find out the store was closing. He came to the Detroit location “to see if anything special was going on.” Bonner purchased an Apple iPod immediately after the closing was announced but before discounts were being offered.

Bonner said that he will do most of his shopping online after the store is closed. “I may go to other stores to see what it looks like but still get a better deal online.” The customer shopped at this store six times per year.

The return policy at the stores slated for closing is void. All sales are final, as stated on the receipt. However, if a shopper wants to return items previously purchased at CompUSA, they will have to travel to the Lansing location.

Right now, everything in the store is marked down by 5 to 20 percent off. Everything will be sold including store fixtures. Discounts will get higher as the days come to an end. All inventories are now owned by the liquidator and are no longer property of CompUSA.

Some items inside the store will not be marked down. All BOSE audio equipment and accessories will remain regular price. In addition, CompUSA extended warranties will not be discounted. For existing customers who have extended warranties, they will automatically be upgraded to the in-home service plan.

Lisa, a first time customer from Detroit had no idea the store was closing. “I try to support stores that are close to where I live,” the Detroit resident said. She came to the CompUSA location to look for some color ink but wasn’t able to find it. The shopper explained, “I like to see what I’m getting. Savings ain’t that great online.

CompUSA decided to run a sales circular in Metro Detroit this weekend even with the store closures. Sales from the circular are not being honored. The only way to receive those savings is by shopping online or at the Lansing location.

The retailer is currently owned by Grupo Carso, a retail conglomerate from Mexico. Grupo Carso is headquartered in Dallas. The conglomerate also owns a majority stake in Sears Roebuck of Mexico.

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

The Dearborn / Detroit CompUSA is located in a plaza that also houses an Office Depot. A Chili's and a Wendy's restaurant are located in the parking lot closer to the road.

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