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Say Goodbye To Fry’s (Specifically Those Crazy Entranceways)

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Fry’s Electronics has officially flipped the "off" switch on its last 31 stores around the country. The 36-year-old retail chain was battered by both the pandemic and the new ways that customers shop.

But aside from electronics, the stores were probably most well-known for what you saw before you walked inside. There’s the crash-landed spaceship at the Burbank location, for example, and Mayan pyramid at the one in San Jose. The Woodland Hills’ outlet was graced with an Alice in Wonderland theme and the Fountain Valley store had Roman Gladiators stationed throughout.

"Some of them went through great lengths to carry the theme all the way from the interior all the way to the entrance," said Chris Nichols, author at LA Magazine who’s an expert on Southern California architecture, on KPCC’s Take Two.

And there are real chops behind some of them. Movie prop designer Eric Christensen, who once worked with George Lucas, created Burbank’s crashed spaceship, which was built into an authentic Googie building from 1962.

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The storefront of Fry's Electronics in Burbank, CA (John Brennan (Flickr/Creative Commons))

Nichols said Christensen believed the whole idea to make each store unique can be traced to the eccentricities of founder John Fry.

"It’s kind of the whim of this wealthy and exotic personality that wanted to build all of these crazy stores," said Nichols.

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The storefront of Fry's Electronics in San Jose, CA. (Paul Sullivan (Flickr/Creative Commons))
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The fate of each store’s design is unclear with the chain shuttering. Nichols says that, according to Christensen, these buildings are expected to taken apart soon and that some of the store’s kitchy props may stay with with the Fry family, while other items may go up for auction.

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The storefront of Fry's Electronics in City of Industry, CA. (Paul Sullivan (Flickr/Creative Commons))