I got this back in February from a guy named David, and David was entirely right.
I was just discussing with my co-worker that most of the good old mom and pop computer stores are now gone (having presumably been killed off by the Internet and online shopping). Granted I’m in Albuquerque, NM and we didn’t have many to begin with but I’m sure it’s happened everywhere. Anyhow, I definitely think it’s a worthy topic to examine.
At this point in the US, the computer store is the electronics chain big box store, with little exception. Best Buy, Microcenter, Fry’s, even Wal-Mart, Staples, Sears. If you want a washing machine at the same time as you get your laptop, or the idea of picking up a few ties and a Hawaiian shirt along with your hard drive excites you, boy are you in luck.
But obviously this wasn’t always the case – at one point computer stories dotted the landscape and had no other little clone friends dotting other parts of the landscape. I’m sure they hung out and chatted about the ups and downs of computer store ownership, but each one had its own place and its own unique character.
Most people agree that one of the first biggie computer stores was The Computer Mart, run by one Stan Veit. Stan died earlier this year. (That obituary/rememberance is worth the read, by the way.) From that mid-1970s start, computer stories started appearing in greater numbers, selling off these awesome new machines to eager and money-waving hands. They were stumbly, strange, unique, fun, and individualistic. They hand-lettered signs, proudly put up baggies with software in them, and waited for the customers to come.
I wish they’d taken more photos of them.
There’ll always be a few of these stores around – either a community will be unwanted by the chains or the store will do things at a certain price for older equipment that enough customers will want to go there first for repairs. But the days of a vibrant, center-of-everything show of the latest and greatest coming down the way are over for them.
So thanks, David. I’ll get on it.
Categorised as: computer history
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