Hub Best Buy short circuits
Apr 14, 2012 (Menafn - Boston Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Best Buy shook up the Newbury Street shopping scene yesterday, abruptly shutting its three-floor store and dealing another blow to the Back Bay building that once housed Tower Records. The big-box electronics retailer said it will reopen the 360 Newbury St. store today for final sales and close it permanently by May 12.
"It's a shame that there won't be a Best Buy around here anymore," said Ato Mensah, 27, a tech consultant who lives nearby and was disappointed he couldn't buy a printer yesterday. "It should be here. We need an electronics store in this area."
Best Buy is closing 50 stores nationwide, including one in Wareham, as part of a "transformation strategy" focused on smaller stores. The Minnesota-based chain is dealing with competitive pressures from Amazon.com, as shoppers flock online in the same shift that killed its main rival, Circuit City, in 2009.
"This was not an easy decision to make. We chose these stores carefully and are working to ensure the impact to our employees will be as minimal as possible, while serving all customers in a convenient and satisfying way," Best Buy said in a statement.
Affected workers may find jobs at other locations or receive severance packages, Best Buy said.
The company also faces turmoil at the top, with CEO Brian Dunn resigning last week amid a probe of his "personal conduct."
Best Buy, which posted a 1.7 billion quarterly loss last month, said its strategy involves "decreasing overall square footage" while increasing "points of presence" by opening 100 smaller mobile stores.
The chain operates 35 big-box and mobile stores in the Boston region, including two others in the city at Landmark Center in the Fenway and the South Bay shopping center in Dorchester.
In the Back Bay, music retailer Tower Records occupied the nine-story building at the corner of Newbury Street and Massachusetts Avenue during the heyday of the CD in the 1990s. Tower collapsed in 2002, as music sales went digital, replaced by a Virgin Megastore that also went out of business.
Best Buy brought new hope when it signed a 10-year lease for the space in 2007, the same year Spanish investor Ponte Gadea Group bought the building from Boston Residential Group.
Meg Mainzer-Cohen, president of the Back Bay Association, said the Best Buy closing is a symptom of the changing retail environment rather than a problem with the shopping district itself.
"I see it as a very good opportunity for the right retailer," she said. "It's a very large retail space in a very prominent location."
Richard Babson, 54, who lives in the Back Bay, stopped by the store yesterday to look at Blu-ray and DVD players.
"Now, I'll have to get in my car and go off somewhere," he said.
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