I was in an actual computer store yesterday, which was momentous for two reasons. First is that I have not really spent much time in stores other than grocery stories since the pandemic began. Second is that it has been way too long since I had been in a real computer store.
One of my favorite stores of my childhood is Radioshack, which was an electronics store from before personal computers were a thing that you could find in just about any town in the United States.
Radioshack on a larger scale describes Fry’s and CompUSA. In its prime you could probably find a CompUSA in most all metropolitan areas and I spent much time and money in the ones near where I lived. CompUSA is where I went to check out the newest computers and gadgets. It’s where I bought my first Apple computer, a Newton MessagePad.
Sadly, CompUSA and Fry’s are extinct, victims of the one-two punch of the big box stores and the Internet. In my area of metropolitan Detroit one lone Microcenter remains as a sanctuary of geekdom, which is where I found myself yesterday evening to pick up the new Macbook Air that I reserved online.
I nearly shed a tear when I walked through the doors to the sight of the picture below. I walked slowly up and down each aisle, thankful for the mask covering my face that hid what I am sure was the goofy look of geek joy. Every computer component you can think of sat on shelves in rows you must pass through to get to the manufactured computers in the back of the store.
I confess that I have contributed to the demise of the very stores that I miss, buying all of my newest tech online and having it delivered to my front door. I had forgotten the pleasure of seeing all of this technology in front of me. Walking out the door I vowed to not wait so long before returning.