I could’ve fixed Circuit City

I know it sounds conceded to think I could’ve fixed Circuit City, but I really believe it. Not sure how many know that installing and selling car stereos was my first job out of high school and that I worked there for about three years. I knew the company had problems was back then when we’d have sales training like “how not to bait and switch” which basically amounted to “how to bait and switch without breaking any state laws.” I remember being asked to do things in regards to customers that conflicted with my personal ethics and I’d nod and say okay, then turn around and do the right thing for the customer anyways. After all the customer was the real reason I was there — and I was too cocky to believe I’d ever be fired and evidently I was right.

Overall it was a good college job; I made some great friends, and a good living — sure beat the hell out of delivering pizza — but I always thought that eventually the problems would be addressed. I knew I was wrong when almost everyone I knew at the big red plug was fired in 2003 and for the dumbest reason in the world; they were the best employees. So instead of training — or reversing the previous bad training — some of the most knowledgeable people in retail how to treat customers fairly, no matter what the commission, they were old laid off. Nice.

It isn’t hard to connect the dots on what will happen after you kill the only good thing you had going. I have to say I’m a little sad though, but at the same time take a little solace in the fact that I recognized the problems way back then. If I ever start my own business, you can bet I won’t make the same mistake though.

3 Responses to “I could’ve fixed Circuit City”

  1. If you walk into almost any Circuit City (that hasn’t been built in the last couple of years) you’ll see 80’s carpet everywhere that smells musty and old floor plans, etc.

    There’s nothing appealing, fresh, or inviting. When I go there, I don’t feel like I want to buy anything.

    Best Buy has done a good job of keeping their stores up to date and I think this has made a big difference in their profitability.

    Just my two cents.

  2. Couldn’t agree more with ya Ben. I worked at CC in college as well and felt the same way. ‘Shame too, as it just means more monopoly for Best Buy.

  3. Dallas Knox says:


    I worked at Circuit City in Daytona Beach for two years while I was in college. I started working their in 2003 right after they laid off a large number of personnel. After speaking with some of the employees and managers I got a really good perspective of the inevitable downfall which has occurred.

    In the 90’s Circuit city was all alone in the market as far as big box retailers is concerned. They had the price match guarantee where they would return you the difference of any product purchased if you found it cheaper at another retail location. They really were not competing with any one until best buy came along. I have read corporate memo’s that specifically addressed Best Buy from the late 90’s that basically brushed them off as a non competitive “Entity”.

    Circuit City also had a ridiculously obscene commission structure. I don’t know what the multiples were in the Car Stereo Dept., but I know in TV sales the commission structure was out of control.

    By the time Circuit City realized their business model was too antiquated to survive it was too late. Not only were they getting hammered by Best Buy, whose volume was rapidly increasing, Amazon,Newegg, and the like had pretty much sucked up the online sales market. Circuit City is a victim of their own lack of forward progress.