Friday, October 4, 2013

Comp USA Houston TX now closed

The Comp USA location at 9714 Katy Freeway (at Bunker Hill Rd.) is now closed. The store closed in the Spring of 2013 relatively quietly without any advertisements. This was the only Houston Comp USA location after the bankruptcy in 2008 when all stores closed. Tiger Direct purchased Comp USA and opened several Comp USA stores across the United States with this new format store. This location opened in January of 2010 and was featured in several news articles. Here is what is left of the store today, absolutely nothing. 

Here is what was here before. This link shows a little about what the store featured as the Comp USA retail 2.0 concept
Here are my photos of the store while it was in business, I should have gotten more but I did not expect the store to close so soon. 

Here is what the store began as, yes a Circuit City which is another company that Tiger Direct acquired from bankruptcy. This store was under construction when Circuit City went under and never opened. This prime location did not stay empty for long and the shopping center added another store next to this one shortly after this store was built. 


  1. Interesting information, thanks for the post. I wonder if this store ever got renamed into TigerDirect as TigerDirect was transitioning from the CompUSA name to the TigerDirect name for their retail locations at the start of the year. Of course, it's possible that the store was slated to close at that point so it never got the new name.

    AFAIK, TigerDirect still has a few locations elsewhere in the country including one in Dallas. I believe that e-tailing is TigerDirect's main mode of business. Thus, perhaps their retail stores are more of an experiment rather than a core part of their business that must be maintained even if the stores aren't profitable. That's just a guess though.

    As far as the "old" CompUSA goes, I remember shopping there even before the chain was called CompUSA. It was originally called Soft Warehouse and they had a location on Westheimer (not The Galleria area one) that is now a Goodwill computer store. That Goodwill is kind of disappointing for what it is. They should have a lot of interesting computer stuff, but they really don't. They mainly have used routers, used printers, used keyboards, overpriced used LCD monitors, and used desktops (granted, I believe they do test the desktops at least). They do have some old video games and consoles, but I doubt you'll find anything more exotic there than a Dreamcast or a Genesis.

    That Goodwill may be helpful if you're looking for a part to repair a fairly old but not completely obsolete computer though. I suppose the market for used computers isn't so good these days with there being many ultra cheap new computers on the market. It's possible that that Goodwill does sell some exotic stuff, but maybe they have collectors who frequent the place and buys the interesting stuff up. There does seem to be a lot of interest in vintage computing.

    There was once a lot of mom-n-pop type computer stores on Westheimer back in the day. I'm sure most of those are gone now, but there may still be some. Most mom-n-pop places seemingly live off virus removal services these days though. Anyway, those smaller computer stores used to advertise a lot on the business page of the newspapers so I would always take a look to see if there was any great deals on parts. Of course, this was back in the day when Computer Shopper magazine was big (literally and figuratively). You probably don't remember that, but Computer Shopper was basically a monthly phone book sized magazine that was mostly full of ads of various computer stores big and small across the nation. The Internet Archive has some scanned copies of old Computer Shoppers, but they are from the early 2000s when e-tailing had already crippled the magazine so those aren't nearly as big as some from the 1990s. Still, some of those are nearly 400 pages.

    E-shopping is certainly easier than flipping through a phone book type publication and the business pages to find a good deal on computer parts, but it is a shame that computer retailers are a lot less common than they were for a while. Granted, I don't think us Houstonians can really complain given that we have a MicroCenter and multiple Fry's Electronics locations. There are also smaller computer stores like Altex. The Houston Altex isn't far from me and they have a zoomable 360 degree view of inside their Houston store on their website. You have to respect any store that does that!

    1. For some reason this comment was flagged as spam, but it was not lost.
      I have been to the Goodwill computer store, the Sportscard store I talked about in a previous comment was located in the same center just a few stores away. I agree with you the store did not have much that would benefit a modern computer user.
      Video game stores are usually hit or miss, but I can usually find at least one game that I will leave with. I have been buying NES, Gameboy, and Super NES lately. I might purchase a Genesis for the right price soon. I would rather find the games on Ebay instead of driving around town, but that takes the fun out of the hunt. Traders Village has been a disappointment lately for video game finds and the prices are high for what you will find. I have found good prices on sports cards though and in the back of the market, the stores change fairly often.
      I only went to the 1960 Comp USA near I-45 a few times but did not buy anything. I have driven by the Altex several times going to Traders Village but never stopped by and I thought the place was closed. Looking at their hours, they are closed on Sundays which is when we go to Traders Village. I am going to have to check that place out, maybe I will find something nice that I didn't know I needed, lol. I am hoping we will get HH Gregg here soon, so we can have more options for electronics.

    2. My guess is that Altex is more oriented towards IT professionals or freelancers who buy computer parts for their company or clients. I guess that is why they have shorter hours than other computer stores. I have not been to Altex in quite some time, but I found their prices to be relatively high. That might be fine if the they have a lot of business customers though as businesses might prefer to get things done ASAP instead of spending more time to save a few bucks. They do sell a lot of obscure electronic tools and test equipment that would interest professionals and electronics nerds. They also have typical computer parts and services that regular customers might be interested in. I think it is nice to have an Altex in this area though as Fry's and MicroCenter are pretty long drives from this part of town so it is nice to have a place to get obscure computer parts without driving all over town should the need ever arise.

      I'm not sure if you noticed or not, but that in-store tour that I linked to in my earlier post is actually set up like a Google StreetView map. You can click around it and "walk down" just about every aisle. It's pretty neat.

      There are a lot of great games for the Sega Genesis. I think it is something that you should add to your collection. I would say that Genesis hardware isn't too obscure (32x and Sega CD is a different matter) so you should be able to pick up some stuff without spending a ton.

      I really have not seen a lot of NES, SNES, or Gameboy stuff in the thrifts. That is kind of surprising really given their popularity. The only Nintendo consoles that I've seen in thrifts are Gamecubes and maybe a N64 or two. Of course, as you know, there are a lot of other sources for older Nintendo stuff.

      I was actually at the grand opening of the I-45 and FM 1960 CompUSA. That must have been in 1993. I believe the Kroger (that is still there) and the ex-Venture opened at around the same time. They had a grand opening sale on an HP color inkjet printer that we were wanting to buy so we stood in line before the store opened. I believe the special was that they would give you 50 free Sony 3.5" diskettes with the printer purchase. Of course, that was like a $50 value at that time. I didn't really shop at that location nearly as much after the CompUSA opened across from Willowbrook Mall, but I do go to the Goodwill that is now in that ex-CompUSA.

      As far as hhgregg goes, I came across an interesting article discussing them a couple of weeks back. It sounds like they may be backing off their expansion plans for now, but I guess we'll have to see about that.

    3. Altex is in a strange location though, in the middle of several car dealerships and far from most office tower complexes. I did check out the map of the store, it was a nice feature. The Altex looks very similar to the Comp USA that closed. HHgregg looks to be on the right path by adding furniture to their stores since most people don't go online to buy furniture. Circuit City could have probably learned a few tricks if they had looked into the business practices of HHgregg and Conn's instead of eliminating their appliance departments. It looks like we may have to wait for a while to get the stores, but they will eventually get to our area since they are not too far away with their last expansion.
      The Goodwill at the former Comp USA was one of the thrifts I visited.

    4. Perhaps it would have made more sense for Altex to locate themselves on the other side of the Beltway, but perhaps they did not want to be located too close to MicroCenter. It's hard to say. At least they are close to the Metro Park and Ride station that is there. Also, that Sam's Club there behind the Altex is probably one of the oldest Sam's that is still in operation. That was there in the 1980s I think. I remember when they expanded the building when Sam's started to sell meats and frozen food.

      As for the dealership row on the Westbound side of 290, yeah, it's quite impressive. There are probably about 15 different auto brands available between the Beltway and Hwy. 6/FM 1960. John Eagle Honda is the only dealership on the Eastbound side of 290 (they used to be on the intersection of N. Eldridge and 1960) and there is also the Beck & Masten Buick and GMC dealership on 1960 not too far from 290. There are also former dealership buildings on or near 290 as well. It may not be the prettiest thing, but it is quite impressive. Some of those dealerships could even be seen on a short part of The Chase movie. It would be interesting to do a photo history project of the history of all those dealerships and how they have switched brands through the years. Of course, many of those dealerships were built right around the time that the freeway itself was built. I know the Chronicle had at least one story from the 1980s about 290's dealership row.

      I don't know what Circuit City was thinking when they eliminated appliances. It was a totally boneheaded move even at the time. As that hhgregg article alluded to, appliances are the top seller for hhgregg and I'm sure that is the case for other electronics/appliances stores these days too. I know that we've talked about the decline of the consumer electronics industry before, but that has really hit home with the brutality within the industry within the last couple of weeks. Toshiba announced that they were making massive reductions in their TV staff with a lot more outsourced production expected, Panasonic announced that they were going to end production of plasma TVs, and Mitsubishi announced that they were ending sales (in the US at least, I'm not sure about elsewhere) of the last consumer electronic product that they still made, projectors. Mitsubishi was demoing some new LaserVue 4K LCD TVs a few weeks back at an electronics show so I'm hopeful that they will return to making consumer electronics again sometime soon because I've been a huge fan of their products for many years now, but I don't blame them for leaving. Even bargain electronics company Coby threw in the towel, but that name could come back as someone brought Coby's assets. Of course, other electronics companies have been hurting as well so more cuts are sure to happen in the future. All this reinforces the idea that electronics stores need to diversify their offerings beyond just electronics.

    5. I had two Coby products in the past and both did not last very long at all. It does not surprise me that there is some consolidation going on in the electronics business. TV's last 10 years on average and most people don't run out to buy every new model like with smartphones. Samsung was smart and invested in smartphones and now arguably has better phones than Apple. Companies that did not invest in smartphones are now becoming obsolete with the exception of Sony and Sharp. I can see acquisitions happening in the electronics sector in the near future if some new electronics technology does not come out soon.

    6. The Kmart Walkman woman will not be happy about the Coby situation though as they were one of the companies that made a portable cassette player. Of course, it was very cheaply made. It, like most/all currently sold portable cassette players, only had a FF button so you had to flip the tape around to rewind it. Coby also sold some cassette boomboxes and stuff like that, but I assume that those were also probably pretty low quality. They probably did have a rewind button at least. But, yeah, I'm not surprised to hear that your Coby stuff wasn't high quality. The stuff they sold was Tozai quality pretty much. In fact, I would not be surprised if their stuff came from the same factories that made Tozai stuff back in the day.

      I don't know if you have checked out the Montgomery Ward catalogs lately, but they have added another cassette stereo system to their catalog. I believe it is this Naxa system that Sears (and others) sell online. It looks like that is one of those big boombox type machines that have detachable speakers so you can use it as a shelf system as well. The quality of that machine is probably Tozai-like as well. Anyway, it's interesting that Wards added that system to their catalog when they already sell the turntable/dual cassette deck shelf system and that other cassette shelf system that they sell online through a partnership with one of Wards' sister catalogs.

      Sharp has been having a lot of recent financial troubles themselves. Sharp has been invested in LCD technology for many years now and that has been a source of good and bad news. Sharp still makes their higher end Aquos TVs, but they have not been selling so well lately obviously and that is really hurting their bottom line. OTOH, they also make high quality phone/tablet LCD displays for companies like Apple. Thus, while Sharp is losing a lot of money because of weak TV sales, they still find a lot of investors (like Samsung) due to their other capabilities. Hopefully that will continue to make Sharp a viable company, but they could be another company that de-emphasizes their consumer electronics lineup in the future in the hopes of eliminating losses.

      I believe that Sony has some struggles as well, but they are more diversified than most of the other struggling Japanese electronics companies. They own music labels and stuff like that. That probably helps them somewhat, but they are still far from their glory days.

      I agree that we will probably see more mergers and stuff like that as consumer electronics companies struggle to stay relevant. We'll probably continue to see outsourced production of things like TVs since there isn't a lot of money to be made there right now. I don't really see any new technologies coming online right now that may provide a major boost to the industry. Maybe 4K and OLED TVs will be big sellers, but I kind of doubt it.

    7. My last Coby item, a portable DVD player lasted a week, Tozai quality for sure!
      I cannot see the new Super duper Ultra 4K Betamax Laserdisc (Ok, maybe too much) technology will take off anytime soon. The current cable companies still have a long way to go with upgrading their infrastructure to give their viewers HD. Satellite is much further ahead with HD, but I am sure Ultra 4K will require new installations and new dishes for homes. It will be at least 5 years until it will be worth it for me to invest in the next generation technology. Internet speeds on most providers are not fast enough to handle most regular HD movies at this point, so it will take a very long time to download an Ultra 4K movie.
      I like the boombox, it has a retro look but it would probably not hold up to everyday use like a true 1980's box would.

    8. I was writing a reply here about infrastructure problems earlier this afternoon when my power went off for about 15 minutes knocking out my reply. I suppose that is an infrastructure problem of another kind though. As far as TV and Internet infrastructure goes, yes, that will be a big hurdle for 4K TV. Although satellite TV tends to have more HD channels than cable, the problem with satellite (and cable too sometimes) is that the video is so compressed to save bandwidth that it looks really bad. It's particularly bad on fast moving content like sports. You see all the macroblocking in the image. I actually have heard of people who have satellite or cable that use an antenna to get their local channels because the off-the-air image quality is sometimes noticeably better. As far as online streaming goes, many people don't even have sufficient download speeds to stream HD. 4K would be out of the question for sure. Some sort of physical media format, like a 4K compatible Blu-Ray disc that is being worked on right now, might have to provide 4K content for many people for a while at least. I don't know if that is going to take off as even regular Blu-Ray hasn't been a smash success.

      I would be interested in a 4K Betamax tape for sure! That sure would beat D-VHS even! Too bad such a thing probably won't exist on the consumer market. But, yeah, I'm sure the TV companies and electronics stores are hoping for a rush of Ultra HD and smart TV purchases, but I don't think it's going to happen. In addition to the infrastructure problems, there is also the problem that Ultra HD won't have the "wife acceptance factor" that made flat panel HDTVs so popular. Flat panel HDTVs were popular because of the image quality, but also because of the confusion about the digital TV switchover, because people wanted bigger screens, and because people liked the idea of a slim TV instead of a huge CRT TV. Ultra HD sets won't really offer any improvements in those areas over the HDTVs that people already brought aside from the image quality. Image quality alone probably isn't going to persuade wives to open up the wallets.

      I actually came across a Panasonic 1980s boombox in a thrift last week with the detachable speakers that is very similar in design to that Naxa system. The Panasonic system did not have a CD player, but it did have a dual cassette deck. It also had a line-in port and external speaker connections. Those were not always common in the 1980s. It was only $5 and it looked like it was in good condition so I thought about buying it, but unfortunately it seemed to have some issues. The cassette decks were physically playing back tapes just fine (and REW/FFing them fine), but I wasn't able to get any sound out of it from the cassette deck. Also, the FM radio (I didn't try the AM) was very, very buzzy sounding. It's possible that something in the store was causing interference, but that could also be a sign of bad capacitors or something. It might have been fixable, but I decided to pass. Regardless, that 1980s Panasonic is probably built much, much better than something like that Naxa radio.