Should You Open A Retail Computer Store in 2019?

Regarding the video @LTS_Tom posted today (, I’ve noticed that the only retail computer sales/repair in my area have been around for decades! A new retail store gave it a go in the last half of 2018 and closed after only about 4 months. The stores I see around are the ones that are doing business with a long established clientele, some customers are still going to the stores because their parents went there. You can’t compete with that!

There’s even one store in the “old town” area that’s in business because the guy “would get bored at home” (his words)! He owns his house, car, and the corner storefront outright! He said that other than utilities and food he doesn’t have any expenses and his savings account is full, so he can just sit there and play around with parts all day long and doesn’t have to worry about keeping customers coming in the door.

So, for me, it’s just not worth it to open a retail sales/repair storefront. It might be worth it though if my efforts to establish an MSP pan out as a supplement and convenience to my clients.

But I think Tom has hit it on the head here, retail is about dead in our industry.

As long as Best Buy, Amazon, and Wal-Mart are doing the margin race to nothing it’s crazy to start a computer business. On the other hand, the Geek Squad is a joke. If you have a business that is making money it may be worth it to offer certain services as a value add to your customers. For instance, if you’re doing data recovery and some computer repairs for your business clients, you’ve already invested in your hardware and skill set and it probably doesn’t cost you much to also accommodate customers off the street.

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In other words, it’s probably not viable by itself. But it may be worth doing if you have some other part of your business supporting payroll for your employees.

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I’m right there with you! I have a ton of specialized tooling and equipment for microsoldering and electronics repair, but there isn’t really a need for it (at least as far as I can grab without spending a ton on advertising). I got into that game because I have a knack for electronics and it’s a hobby of mine, but no that screen replacements are also about to the end of the zero race the equipment sits more than it’s used now. There’s no way that I can get to the level of Rossmann or STSTelcom with mail in service (and there certainly isn’t the demand for that kind of thing around here), so I keep it as a value add.

Another factor in the decline of local PC retailers is the likes of Amazon etal. other factors are the labor market the pricing from OEMs and distributors and then there is the absurd rents for either office or retail space, insurance costs … All of these factors make pricing unpalatable for the consumer. A specialty retailer say a gaming shop might get a following but that would be a long shot. The decline in retail computer shops began in the '90s with more OEMs selling direct over the “net.” Many have transitioned to MSPs some like Lawrence systems successfully others died or are giving the MSP and consultants a bad rep, because of bad business practices and or outright incompetence.