Computer geeks and anyone else who wants to find a wide selection of accessories for their computer systems will miss CompUSA when its doors close at the end of 2007. It's mind-boggling how the richest man in the world, Mexican retailer and telephone baron Carlos Slim, could turn a multi-billion investment into zero in just eight years. In 2006, CompUSA had $4 billion in sales; that's expected to drop to just $1.5 billion in 2007 with more than 100 stores closed throughout the year.
In its heyday, CompUSA offered better protection for consumers who bought its extended warranties and better service than Best Buy ever could. While the service contracts will still be legally valid, I doubt the service will be anywhere near as good as it was when you could walk into a CompUSA store and work directly with the service people. CompUSA bailed me out of a number of computer crises over the years and I for one will miss them dearly. Luckily I'm married to a computer geek now who can do my repairs for me. My business would be shut down without my computer.
The biggest mistake Slim made was underestimating the need for marketing. While Best Buy and Circuit City fought it out for customers on the airwaves, CompUSA stayed silent. There was just too much noise from competitors and not enough response from CompUSA.
We'll miss you, and hope we can find another good outlet for computer accessories and support. For all the computer geeks out there that lost jobs as tech jobs moved overseas, this could be a blessing in disguise. It may be a good time to look into starting your own computer support businesses and replace the void CompUSA will leave.
This post was written as part of a series on on 2007 departures. Read about more products, companies and people you won't see in 2008.