It's been a tough few months for the tech sector, with major declines in PC sales and layoffs at large companies like Intel, Microsoft, Dell and Lenovo. However, one tech retailer appears to actually be growing. Micro Center just announced that it's opening a new store in Indianapolis on June 23rd of this year, with two more outlets to follow by 2025.
The new store from the Columbus OH-based chain will join 25 other outlets in states ranging from New York to Missouri, Texas, California and Colorado. The privately-held company told us that it expects to grow revenue in 2023, going from $2.1 billion in 2022 to $2.2 billion and then $2.4 billion in 2024.
These numbers clearly pale in comparison to the U.S.'s leading tech retailer, Best Buy, which turned in $46.3 billion in revenue for the 12 months which ended on January 31, 2023. However, Best Buy does this with 1,144 stores so the average Micro Center store generated 84 million in revenue versus just 40.4 million for Best Buy.
Micro Center is well known among PC hardware enthusiasts, because it's one of the best in-person places to buy components such as graphics cards, CPUs and SSDs. It has a much wider selection of components and peripherals than a typical Best Buy, and its prices for in-person shopping are often cheaper than those you'll find online at Amazon or Newegg.
Micro Center is also one of the best places in the United States to buy Raspberry Pis, maker components and many of the best 3D printers. It is the only national chain we've seen that stocks products from the likes of Adafruit, Sparkfun and Pimoroni. And, if you can find them in stock (a problem everywhere these days), the company sells Raspberry Pi boards at their MSRPs.
In a recent conversation, Micro Center Chief Merchandising Officer Warren Beneson told us that the company's strategy is to bring people into its stores in person, rather than competing against Amazon for online transactions. Most of the store's primary products are not available for purchase or delivery online, but you can usually reserve items for in-store pickup or check prices and stock at microcenter.com.
The company frequently sends out coupons with impressive special offers, such as the ability to buy a 3D printer for just $100. It also has its own store brands for PCs (PowerSpec PC), components and 3D printing supplies. Its Inland filaments are among the best 3D printing filaments you can buy.
The company says that it has 3.6 million active customers, having reached 1.1 million new customers in the last two years with a total of 30,000 daily transactions. Customers spend an average of 45 minutes in the store, picking out products. The average Micro Center customer is also knowledgeable. According to the company, only one percent of customers say they are "new to technology."
While PC enthusiasts like Micro Center because they can actually see and touch many models of cases, keyboards, SSDs, CPUs and graphics cards, the company also caters to small business clients. Thirty percent of customers identify as "business customers" and the company is the process of adding more small business-specific fixtures to its stores. It has long sold a variety of thin clients, servers and workstations.
Though Micro Center is in expansion mode, it is not by any means a new chain. The company launched in 1979 and many of its C-suite have been with the brand for decades. CEO Rick Mershad has served 40 years, while Beneson has been on board for 19 years. Back in the 1980s, the stores used to have a rainbow stripe aesthetic that was reminiscent of early Apple branding.
The Indianapolis store will be located at 5702 E. 86th Street in that city. The company is not publicly disclosing the addresses and launch dates of the other two stores. To see if there's a Micro Center near you, check the Store Locations page on the company's website. The site also has more details about the upcoming Indianapolis store.
I live a good distance from my local Microcenter and yet I visit it every so often, it's just worth it, they always have an excellent selection. To me the mystery is why Fry's or CompUSA could not figure out a good, sustainable business model. As for Best Buy, as a computer store, they are hopeless.
I don't think Microcenter is interested in prime locations, that just doesn't seem to be their business model. Wherever they are located, they always seem to attract a good crowd, so why spend money on an expensive location?
I am more of a browser than buyer at microcenter, but it is nice to get some clickety keyboards and try some gadgets out. I do appreciate the electrical component side of their stores and when you need something now its great to have one. Store pickup works really well to (and avoid the salesman). I hope they can grow organically and survive.
But that was many years ago, so things may have changed.
I'd LOVE for them to open one here in SE Virginia.
Castleton Square mall area, actually still quite a trip for me. But nothing like driving to OH.