updated 11:10 am EDT, Fri April 10, 2009
Following its bankruptcy and sale to Systemax, CompUSA has quietly been reopening new stores with a very different policy on Internet access. In a talk with Wired, Systemax's Technology Products chief Gilbert Fiorentino has confirmed both that there are now 30 new CompUSA stores but that the new shops have a largely open Internet policy that puts every computer in the store on an Internet connection. Shoppers are reportedly encouraged to use demo units to check prices and reviews, and are unrestricted from ordinary tasks like checking Facebook.
The approach is closer to that of Apple's retail stores and is a reversal of common policies from Best Buy and others, which often allow Internet access but don't mandate it on all systems and have sometimes been known to filter out certain sites to prevent either leisure browsing or comparisons with nearby shops. In Apple's case, the decision to allow full access is both meant to enable real-world use of the computers as well as to keep customers coming back; a similar approach is expected for CompUSA.
As Systemax owns TigerDirect, the company also promises consistent pricing between its other brand's website and the CompUSA stores. In the past, Best Buy has been caught using an unpublished internal website that shows higher pricing than what was advertised online.
The company also promises to have cut much of the overhead that ultimately lead to the original CompUSA's bankruptcy and vows lower asking prices than before.
A revived store faces difficult economic conditions but may thrive with the recent liquidation of Circuit City, which both reduces CompUSA's immediate competition and opens the door to taking over the now-empty retail space of its former challenger. Circuit City had faced a similar crisis of high maintenance costs and losses to Best Buy but was unable to find a company willing to take it over in time to avoid a complete collapse.