CompUSA Closures Halted by New Buyer
Dallas, TX-based Company Saved by Apple's Macs and Tiger?

by Joe Leo, Columnist

DOES NOT 'COMP'-UTE: After an initial round of store closures in early 2007 in order to consolidate (but not shut down the company for good) CompUSA's 103 remaining stores were slated for closure this month, with the company going out of business. Don't count them out for good just yet... [PHOTO: 2007, J. Leo]

NEWS: 1.09.08-- Did you hear that Apple may have saved the day for CompUSA due to Tiger and Macs? If you did, then you've got Macworld Expo 2008 fever clouding your mind. TigerDirect and Systemax Inc. are the key words here in this Cinderella story-like comeback / last ditch effort for the American tech "icon," far from having anything to do with Apple.

Mark Twain would have been proud. "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated!" It's a wonder how this story was, buried, considering all the tech-related news this week.

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With all the buzz around the new tech gadgets being released and/or showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2008) in Las Vegas this week, and the momentum building up to Macworld Expo 2008 in San Francisco the next, it's easy to overlook a bit of news that, at any other time of the year, would be hot tech-related news on the front page.

Especially on Mac-centric news sites that report these kind of things. Why, you ask?

Late last year (just the other week, really), we featured a piece on AOL Money & Finance's hot lists for 2007 and what the Apple perspective was on each list: from the money winners and hottest products of 2007, to the "Top Departures of 2007."

Number 12 on that list of 21 things on their way out and never to return was Dallas, TX-based fledgling electronics retail chain, CompUSA, sold to a firm for liquidation of all its assets. The Apple link was the fact that before there was ever a retail Apple Store, CompUSA was it with their exclusive Apple Shops in store and Mac hardware and accessories galore.

Just when we were all saying a final farewell to a company that previously expanded itself by acquiring a small competitor--Alameda, CA-based "The Good Guys"-- that specialized in entertainment electronics (like plasma TVs) in order to compete with No. 1 chain Best Buy, which eventually failed, leading to initial store closures to consolidate, and now total closures...

On Sunday (totally off our radar, as well as other Mac news and rumor sites across the board), Systemax Inc. announced that it was acquiring selected assets and retail stores of CompUSA, which under the agreement, has the company buying the CompUSA brand name, its online business, and retaining/saving 16 of the 103 stores that were closing down for good.

This information comes from a press release out Sunday, which informs the public that these 16 newly-acquired CompUSA stores will turn into TigerDirect retail outlets, adding to the 11 stores in limited distribution in the East Coast and Canada, hoping to expand their presence.

"We have a terrific opportunity to continue the great CompUSA brand and establish a new heritage that will extend for generations to come," says TigerDirect CEO Gilbert Fiorentino.

Also stated in the deal is the acquisition of which will continue on in its current form on the web, but under the leadership/management of TigerDirect and Systemax Inc.

According to their website, Systemax is a direct marketer of brand name and private label products--such as notebook and desktop PCs--who also sells products made by other leading companies from Canon to Sony, to AMD and Intel.

They do not currently sell Apple computer hardware, but do sell iPods and third party Mac accessories such as notebook battery replacements. No word on whether the acquisition of CompUSA will mean an expanded outlet for Apple products under the umbrella of the previous owner's status as an Apple Authorized Reseller.

Per the press release, the salvaged retail locations will only exist in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico, leaving its former commanding presence on the West Coast, a mere footnote in history.


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