What a shock it must have been for the employees. Show up to work and find yourself locked out. No notice. Nothing. I imagine that there were more than a few tearful phone calls to supervisors who probably didn’t know any more than anyone else. Apparently that’s how things roll in corporate Best Buy land. All Future Shop stores across the country are closed. The website posts this little diddy to the left. Dear Valued Customer. Uh huh. Too bad the employees weren’t nearly as valued.
I remember going into my first Future Shop back in the 1990s. It was in Kingston, Ontario and I had never seen a store like that before. Wall to wall electronics, computers, and games. I’d have a little geekgasm every time I stepped through those doors. If there was a heaven, Future Shop was it. There was no Amazon to order from online. There was barely an “online”. Future Shop was that store you hoped you’d get locked into at night so you could have it all to yourself.
Eventually they opened one here, and while still awesome, the magic seemed to lessen a little. It didn’t seem quite as special when I could go there anytime I wanted, as opposed to those summers spent in Kingston. But that’s progress for ya, and soon I think every city had their own Future Shop. Maybe 131 locations was too ambitious, because in 2001 Future Shop was looking for a buyer. They found one in Richfield, Minnesota-based Best Buy. The invasion had begun. Best Buy would continue to operate Future Shop as a separate brand, while inserting their own stores into some markets. This created an odd situation with Future Shop and Best Buy stores sometimes within sight of each other, fighting to serve the same customer. Surely this couldn’t continue forever. And that brings us to where we are today. 131 stores closed without notice. 66 of those will remain closed for good. The other 65 will be reborn as Best Buy locations. 500 full-time and 1000 part-time gone. But don’t worry… some of those former Future Shop employees will have an opportunity to apply for positions in the newly rebranded store. Nothing screams “Valued Employee” quite like being locked out of your Red store and being told you can reapply for your old job after the Blue paint drys.
I’m not surprised that Best Buy is deciding to eliminate the Future Shop brand. I’m more surprised that it’s taken them 14 years. I can’t help but feel a little sadness though. There’s nothing about the Best Buy brand that connects with me in the way that Future Shop did during those long-ago summers. If I could talk to my 22 year old self, what would I say?
Enjoy the moment, Stephen. Enjoy the moment…