Future Shop stores shuttered

Marine Drive closes, Park Royal to reopen as Best Buy

One North Vancouver Future Shop on Marine Drive will be closed permanently and another at Park Royal will be converted to a Best Buy store under a corporate consolidation plan announced this week.

Doors to both local Future Shop stores were abruptly closed Saturday, along with others across the country.

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Best Buy, the parent company, announced it will close half of the Future shop stores and reopen the remaining 65 stores under the Best Buy name. Customers were greeted with notices on the doors announcing the closures Saturday morning.

Stores that will be converting to Best Buy shops, including the one in Park Royal, are expected to reopen starting next week.

About 500 full-time and 1,000 part-time employees will lose their jobs across the country as a result of the move. A corporate spokesman did not provide information on how many workers will lose their jobs at the North Vancouver store.

Future Shop burst into the market in 1982 when Iranian businessman Hassan Khosrowshahi first opened the big electronics stores in the Lower Mainland.

Khosrowshahi built Future Shop into one of the most successful retail brands in Canada.

U.S.-based Best Buy bought the corporation in 2001 and continued to run both Best Buy and Future Shop stores under different brands.

Future Shops, which were marketed to a more tech-savvy customer, were more often located in urban centres, while Best Buy was geared to a more suburban market, said Mary Charleson, a North Vancouver marketing consultant and marketing professor at Capilano University.

That continued through the expansion of big box retail stores in the mid-2000s.

“It was all fine and dandy until the world of online purchasing hit,” she said. Consumer electronics, which are “very price sensitive,” were soon caught up in the online shopping sea change, said Charleson.

“It’s a real shift in retail,” she said, adding people are much more comfortable buying products online now than they were even five years ago. “It’s a significant proportion of people doing it,” she said.

The result is, “You don’t need the retail footprint anymore.”

The company announced its plans to spend $200 million on beefing up business at its remaining stores over the next one to two years.

Charleson said she wouldn’t be surprised to see small retail spaces, with competitive prices and delivery options, backed up by a number of local warehouses.
Best Buy has said it will honour all existing Future Shop orders, service appointments, gift cards and warranties.

From a consumers’ perspective, Charleson said she doesn’t expect a lot will change when remaining Future Shop stores convert to Best Buys. “Whether we walk in to a Future Shop or a Best Buy, most of us will not blink too much.”

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