My Best Buy is closing. A lot of Best Buys are closing but this one is mine. Really, it’s my son’s, so it’s ours. But it’s more my son’s because we like to believe he convinced the company to open a store in our neighborhood. During the 1990’s when Best Buy was a pretty cool place to go to buy CDs and DVDs, TV’s, computers and really, anything you could plug in, we’d travel 7 or 8 miles to the nearest one and spend tons of time prowling the aisles…because that’s what men do.
When the first area Best Buy opened in Southfield, Mich. in the early 1990’s we joined the massive crowd that descended on this magic palace of electronics. I even bought an awesome Pioneer rack stereo system which I still use today. I waited forever to get to the checkout and enthusiastically signed up for a Best Buy credit card, which, over the years, I abused mercilessly.
At some point, my son, who was in his late teens at that point, wrote to the Best Buy people telling them they were missing the boat by not locating a store closer to where we live. He carefully laid out the economic data and made the case that there was plenty of money to be made if only they’d open a store in, or near, our town.
They never really responded one way or the other, but then one day as we buzzed by a decaying strip mall on one of our town’s main drags we saw a giant sign shouting that new Best Buy was going in there! Holy crap! Did my son pull off a miracle? I don’t care what you think…I’m going with it that he did.
On the day of the store’s grand opening, 15 years ago, my wife and son were first in line to get in. I was at work. Actually, my son was first and when the doors opened, he was the very first customer to walk through them, smiling wide as the employees lined up along the main aisle and applauded him…as if they knew they owed their jobs to the local kid who convinced the Best Buy corporate poobahs to plunk a store in our hometown.
We were loyal to “our” Best Buy for many years. I bought a few TVs, a couple of computers, GoPro stuff, a bunch of CDs and DVDs, hard drives, assorted parts, cables, a digital Nikon camera..and bag..of course and who knows what else. The cashiers used to laugh at how old my Best Buy credit card was, informing me I could get an updated one. I resisted for a long time since it had some sentimental value but I finally caved.
But over time we visited the store much less often. We stopped buying CDs and DVDs and the experience became both sad and annoying. We always liked just looking around at all the cool stuff but that became a game of aisle-warfare as one had to avoid the “clipboard people,” from cable or satellite TV companies stalking, then attacking you to pressure you into signing with their service. Screw that. There are no cliipboard people when I shop online.
Then there were the workers who were either not trained well or were chugging muscatel at lunch because they were either slow, apathetic or just ignorant. At times, they were simply absent because you couldn’t find one to unlock a case or get you something from the stock room that wasn’t available on the sales floor.
Of course the selection and prices were better online but I did attempt to patronize our Best Buy when it made sense. Unfortunately, it made sense much less often.
We noticed fewer and fewer people shopping at our Best Buy and started to wonder how they could pay to keep the lights lit and all the demo TVs flickering. It was actually sad to see the long, slow decline of a store that once was a wonderment….a place that represented fun, discovery and man’s constant need to plug in things.
It had been several months since our last visit when we approached the doors the other day. My son and I were greeted with a sign announcing the store would be closing November 2nd. For a moment we were speechless as a sudden sadness hit us. My son had worked so hard to get us our Best Buy but the store just didn’t work hard enough to survive. We walked around the store…quietly. We knew this was our final visit. The shelves already looked bare, the employees trudged through their day, mostly in silence and we just took it all in thinking of how much we once loved this place.
Finally, my son made his last purchase–some recording supplies. The young lady who took his money politely asked if he’d like to record the purchase on our Rewards Zone account–you know, so we could earn discounts on future purchases. Sure, we said, why not? She handed him his receipt, smiled a little, sad smile, and said, “thanks for stopping in.” Little did she know my son was the very first person who ever did.