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The Other Fry’s

Sure, you’ve got Amazon Prime. (I do too.) But I have something that (most of) you don’t have: Fry’s Electronics. It’s a 12-mile drive from here, so I can’t just dash over anytime I want, like I can to Artie’s Ace Hardware. However, I realized after stopping in after a 15-year hiatus the other day that I need to go there more often.

Fry’s is hard to describe. It’s a double-big box store, done up in Aztec decor to look something like a pyramidal temple. It’s the ultimate nerd supply house, and has everything you might expect: motherboards, memory sticks, power supplies, cases, monitors, hard drives, Flash drives, software, and so on. Want to build your own desktop? It’s all there. However, Fry’s is remarkable for going even deeper into the wild country of the word “electronics,” right down to resistors and capacitors, soldering stations, shrink tubing and wire in any color you could name, and aluminum chassis. Good lord, they even have panel meters. Tools, wow: multitesters of every sort, needle-nose pliers, dykes (sorry; I still call them that), Dremels, Internet cable connector crimpers, and on for page upon page.

It gets a little nuts after that: toys, kites, CDs, DVDs, candy, all kinds of snacks, light bulbs, night lights, swamp coolers, refrigerators, camping gear, CB radios (!!), and fifteen varieties of fidget spinner. There was a display of something I truly don’t understand: body shapers (which is I think the generic term for things like Spanx) printed to look like bluejeans. Yes, I know, there are plenty of women nerds…but underwear in a resistor shop?

Crazy world.

Why was I there? I’ve noticed over the past year that the Mozilla codebase has grown ever more memory-hungry. Waterfox has taken to gagging with just six or seven tabs open. I’ve been meaning to add more RAM to my quadcore for some time, on general principles. It started out as an XP machine, and so had a scant 4 GB since I bought it. Now I had an excuse. Windows 7 Pro 64-bit can manage 192 GB of RAM, so throwing 16 GB at it is no big deal. But since I dropped those sticks into the quad, I haven’t heard the least little feep out of Waterfox.

Excellent prices, overwhelming selection, and people in the aisles who know what they’re talking about. Still another expression of the boggling richness of Phoenix’s retail sector. Fry’s Electronics is legally unrelated to Fry’s supermarkets, but was created by the sons of the man who founded the supermarket chain. If you’re ever in town for some reason, make sure you go over there. If you do, call me and I’ll come along.

Buy some hot pink shrink tubing. Dare ya!


  1. TRX says:

    > hot pink shrink tubing

    Which I have, along with flourescent orange and some other colors. I needed some to anchor the ends of the braided RF shielding I’m using on some of the wiring on the house, and what the heck, it was all the same price… fifty or sixty years from now, some handyman may boggle.

    > 4Gb

    My desktop as I write this, has KDE, the NVidia driver running three monitors, Firefox running Youtube in a window, two X console windows with a couple of tabs each, four Konqueror tabs with half a dozen tabs each, KTorrent vamping down some torrents, Pan pulling down some Usenet, two copies of Okular showing .pdfs, a copy of the KWrite editor, and a copy of DOSemu running my ancient DOS editor. GKrellM says it’s all using 3.9 Gb. And with YouTube paused while my wife is on the phone, 1 to 2% CPU utilization.

    My admin workstation at a client’s office has Windows 7 and 4Gb; it acts like it’s out of breath just with Firefox up.

  2. TRX says:

    > shrink tubing

    BTW, I bought several feet of “adhesive lined” *clear* shrink tubing off eBay. You can print or write a label, wrap it around the wire, and shrink the sleeve over it. I got the tip from one of the car forums; it’s supposed to work long-term in exposed environments.

  3. Alex says:

    Reminds me of this Weird Al song – Hardware Store

  4. Larry Nelson says:

    It is going to be hard to convince my lovely wife that this is a worthy tourist stop on our trip to Phoenix this October. I’ll do my best. It surely is at least as great a wonder as the Petrified Wood National Park we visited in the spring.

  5. Tony says:

    IIRC, there is one near or in Atlanta that we stop at occasionally. We were in on a regular basis when we lived in Austin, TX or Portland, OR. 12 miles? Beaverton to Wilsonville was 17 miles and we didn’t bat an eye to drive down I-5.

    Now days I’m lucky to get anything outside of online sales. Backwater towns are killing me. 😀

  6. nick flandrey says:

    Got two of them just about the same 10 mile distance away here in Houston, and another 25 miles away in the Nasa area. All have different themes. I first met Fry’s in San Diego, when they took over the store of a bankrupt chain, SomethingorOther Universe. LOVE Fry’s. I use their online store for price comparison and sometimes purchasing all the time too.

    Big box store for geeks. I did notice a reduction in their apple section last time I was there. Don’t know if that means anything.

    We also had our local MicroCenter move into a custom built store and go all ‘big box’ on us. It’s great for selection, if pricing is just a bit high. Where else would you find more than 5 different 3D hobby printers set up as demo gear, with boxed printers waiting to sell?


  7. Of course, Fry’s is all over the Bay Area (especially the South Bay), and they have two in the Sacramento area as well. Unfortunately, that’s still a 2-3 hour drive for me.

    Interestingly, when I lived in San Jose (’88-’91), the Fry’s supermarket chain had a fairly large presence in the area, but I don’t see any of them there any more.

  8. Don Doerres says:

    As mentioned, the Fry’s stores do have different themes. I finally found a list here:

  9. Rich Rostrom says:

    Umm, you might want to ask your brother-in-law what he thinks of Fry’s. Bill bought a major appliance there some years ago, and it was not a pleasant experience.

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