Fry’s Electronics closed its stores nationwide on Wednesday, prompting Burbank residents to lament the loss of a local location famed for its elaborate sci-fi decorations.
The business announced it was stopping regular operations this week after nearly 36 years in business, citing “changes in the retail industry and the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a statement on its website.
On social media, many community members shared photos of the Burbank store on North Hollywood Way, whose decorations were themed after an alien invasion — taking some inspiration from the classic sci-fi film “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Fry’s was known for styling its stores after various subjects, such as “Alice in Wonderland” or a Mayan temple.
Though several residents noted, as media outlets have in the past, that customer service was sometimes poor and bare shelves seemed to indicate the store would soon go out of business, many also spoke fondly of their memories of the business.
“Fry’s was really that mega tech haven for us,” said David Das, a computer and music producer who said he used to visit the store at least once a week. “Every time you [needed] a cable or you [needed] a gizmo … it was just so useful.”
Paul Botticelli said he hadn’t been to the local Fry’s since about 2019, noting that even then the shelves appeared mostly empty. But he recalled that he enjoyed visiting it, adding that he once brought his young daughter to the store’s cafe, modeled after a drive-in theater, to watch old movies.
“It was just a really fun store to walk into,” Botticelli said.
Some residents have wondered what will replace the Fry’s building, which sits on a large lot not far from the Hollywood Burbank Airport.
“I wonder what they’re going to put in there,” Blanca Saffold said of the site. She remembers Fry’s as the store she visited to buy a laptop and printer when she was studying for her master’s degree. “It’s such a large hole to fill.”
Simone McFarland, a Burbank spokeswoman and assistant director of community development, told the Leader in an email that La Terra, which is developing the 777 Front Street project, has applied to build at the Fry’s site. The developer has proposed two scenarios, McFarland said: constructing 863 residential units, with 9,000 square feet of retail and 81,000 square feet of office space; or 863 residential units with 9,000 square feet of retail and 150,000 square feet of office space.
Das said Fry’s closure announcement this week wasn’t entirely surprising, recalling that he noticed the shelves were empty during his last visit — due to an issue with a supplier contract, he remembers being told at the time.
He made that last visit shortly before the pandemic began. And because the pandemic has since forced many workers to create home offices, he has had little reason to make shopping trips.
“Really the thing that’s so sad about this is [that] it’s one of the last of the big [stores] that are brick and mortar,” Das said. “It’s sad that that option won’t be here anymore.”