Simply mention the word to any technologically inclined friend you know. Say it in a hushed whisper, with a smile on your face. And watch the eyes of your friend go wide with delight. You will probably even elicit a squeak or overly enthusiastic 'Oh? Are you going now? I can drop everything I'm doing because you know I'd LOVE to come along right?'
Yes, I speak of the West Coast phenomenon known as Frys.
A long time ago when I wasn't native to these parts (but still paying many a visit), I found it rather amusing that my compatriots from the Silicon Trenches would laboriously rearrange schedules just to ensure at least a 4 hour block of quality time at Frys. I couldn't understand how a store could engender such a flurry of planning activity. Now that I'm lucky enough to reside in the Bay Area, and having made the pilgrimage, I understand. Completely.
For some, Frys evokes an imagery of rows of uninteresting pieces and parts of mystery hardware (destined for who knows what nefarious purpose) coupled with aggressive sales folks, for others, what comes to mind is the interesting themes of each location. And I'm sure that for yet another portion of folks, Frys is just that computer superstore with the cheesy commercials which get too much rotation during the holidays. But for the geek? Frys is paradise. Well, at least 7 out 10 geeks surveyed seem to hold this view.
Frys is so wonderful in terms of its offerings. It isn't just a temple to the gearhead, it's incredibly convenient for any consumer looking to add technology to the homestead. While it's great that you can get everything you possibly need to build that custom designed CPU case that fits into your Eichler populated with Eames (from fans to hard disks to shiny lights to graphics cards), you can also find yourself any manner of PC (they serve all religions here, Wintel and Apple), monitor, input device, wireless keyboard or mouse, and needed accoutrement (Need a nice disc storage solution? Check. How about cable taming solution so that your desk doesn't resemble a large plate of pasta? Yep, they have that too). Oh, and have I mentioned all of the techno-tchotchkes they have? PDAs of all flavors, digital cameras, video cameras, and printers, and wait, are those small drops on my laptop drool? Why, yes they are! Alright. l will try and keep the rabid enthusiasm under control. Ahem.
Let me at least finish by rounding out the list. You can peruse for anything from small appliances (think vacuums, steam cleaners, toasters and coffee makers) to big contraptions (stuff such as washers, dryers, and my favorite, wine storage solutions). Add to that books (technology oriented of course), multimedia (software, music and movies), and you have the perfect 'natural habitat' for the geek you know.
Here in Northern CA, there are 7 locations: Campbell, Concord, Fremont, Palo Alto, Sacramento, San Jose, and Sunnyvale. Our Southern CA friends have a longer list of choices that span from Anaheim to Oxnard. And there are even Frys in Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Indiana and Georgia.
My only complaint? Having one in San Francisco proper would be awfully convenient, but then, having a reason to putter down to Silicon Valley is not such a bad thing either. Each Frys location has a different 'theme', and part of the fun (again perhaps for the geeks) is actually checking those themes out (road trip anyone?)
A quick decoder for the locations I've managed to hit:
Sunnyvale = "The History of Silicon Valley" complete with high tech museum displays
Palo Alto = "The Wild Western Frontier" (saddle required, lasso optional)
Campbell = "Egypt" (Yes they do have a sphinx and King Tut Tomb replica)
Fremont = "1893 World's Fair/Chicago" (with a focus on this newfangled thing called 'electricity')
San Jose = "Mayan Temple Ruins" (the entrance does it for me, such architectural grandeur for the purpose of fetching my $10 USB key)
I've heard that the Southern California locations have themes that range the gamut from NASA to Tiki Paradise to Retro-Space (Martians/Aliens galore).
In summary, having been initiated, I'm an unabashed fan. Frys gets my thumbs up as a go-to source for techno-goodies. After all, a girl needs a place to go buy her oscilloscope, how else am I going to keep the home labs running in good order?
(Welcome again to Martina, one of the finalists vying for a blogging position at the upcoming AT:Home Tech. Comment away.)