J&R opened in the Big Apple in 1971 as a music store and today is the largest single electronics store in the country. It spans an entire city block in New York City, has been featured in many movies and television shows, and Michael Jackson once called it his favorite toy store in the world. The family-owned store evolved over the years to expand its line and keep up with the times; it now offers everything from LPs to fax machines. You don’t have to live in New York City to shop at J&R, though. It has an extensive online store and also accepts orders by phone or mail. J&R touts its authorized dealer status and its price match policy to compete with other authorized dealers.
NewEgg.com, founded in 2001, is electronic heaven for computer do-it-yourselfers. PC Magazine named it to its own top five list, citing that the site gets its geek quotient for its selection of motherboards, RAM chips and hard drives needed to build a computer from the ground up. But NewEgg.com is not just for that techie stuff; it also offers everything from TVs to gaming systems. The company is guided by a philosophy that involves fair pricing and empowering consumers to make the best buying decision.
RadioShack, a long-time staple in the electronics world, has more than 4,300 locations in the U.S. and Mexico. A small store with a big selection, RadioShack offers personal attention. From accessories to the latest gadgets, this specialty electronics chain is a destination for home entertainment needs, holiday gifts and even that obscure missing component. In recent years, RadioShack has ramped up its focus on mobile phones and plans. RadioShack’s Trade & Save Program allows you can trade in your working electronics for store credit—a great way to upgrade. The Shack’s website offers helpful how-to videos, a blog and a battery finder.
Founded in 1974 by Bill Crutchfield as a one-man mail-order car stereo business, Crutchfield has grown into a 500-employee company that sells home and personal audio products, televisions and entertainment systems, video equipment, cameras and more. You can still get a Crutchfield catalog—or a “magalog” as it is called because it also includes learning resources alongside item descriptions—or you can shop online. Perhaps what Crutchfield is best known for, though, is its customer service. While shopping online or in the catalog, you have instant access to an adviser who can assist you with your order. Crutchfield also has an extensive online knowledge base. It’s also worth noting that Bill Crutchfield was named to the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame.
1 Your Local Mom and Pop Store
There are too many to name them all, but as a category, your local mom and pop electronic shop could be the best in your area for many reasons. For starters, independent electronic retailers are in business because they love electronics. This means you are buying from an expert. While these local stores may not be able to be as competitive in price, Consumer Reports states that independents outrank chains in most categories, including service and in negotiating—there isn’t as much red tape in the reduction approval department. Plus, it’s just nice to buy locally and support a family-owned business.
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