Rebooting Circuit City

Electronics kiosks may be coming to a convenience store near you

Circuit City

NEW YORK -- The venerable Circuit City name may soon pop up at a convenience store in your market, as two retail veterans take on the task of developing smaller-format stores and turnkey “express” options for college bookstores and c-stores.

New York-area entrepreneur Ronny Shmoel acquired the Circuit City brand, domain and associated trademarks last October from Systemax, an IT provider based in Port Washington, N.Y. Fellow retail vet Albert Liniado is part of the main executive team planning to open 50 to 100 corporate stores ranging in the 2,000-to-4,000-square-foot range and 150 to 200 franchises nationwide by the end of 2017, according to a report by Twice.com. They’re starting in Dallas, where they expect to open a retail location in June, according to the website.

The move follows a path similar to that of RadioShack, which after its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing and acquisition by General Wireless Inc. in early 2015 decided to slim down to become an “electronics convenience store” focusing on gear such as Bluetooth headsets, chargers and other accessories that shoppers may need immediately.

One of the nation’s top consumer-electronics retailers, Circuit City closed its doors in 2008 in a wave of online disruption and other changing market conditions. Circuit City also failed in a second incarnation as an online-only website.

The new plan will involve retail outlets, web sales, branded and private-label products, licensed kiosks, mobile shops and franchise opportunities. At convenience stores, the express options may include kiosks, end caps, slot walls and in-store displays, featuring an edited assortment of $9.99 to $29.99 headphones and accessories, with inventory accessible through an online portal. Such availability may make providing consumer electronics easier for c-stores, the report said, alluding to a goal of 5,000 to 10,000 of those express locations set up over the next five years.

Targeting millennials, the larger retail mix will include prepaid and postpaid smartphones, as well as tablets, notebooks, wearables, networking equipment, gaming products, headphones, drones, 3D printers, health appliances and do-it-yourself (DIY) devices, all supplemented by a service desk, electronic price tags and touchscreen terminals that link customers with what is envisioned as a million-SKU selection online.

To maintain profitability, the new Circuit City will employ minimum-advertised price and unilateral pricing policies similar to other brick-and-mortar and online retailers, while using private-label items to build margin.

Both Shmoel and Liniado have retail histories with consumer electronics.