Future Shop Being Consolidated Under the Best Buy Brand

News and reminiscing.

News

Some of you may have already heard, but some sad news broke over the weekend.

If you read my weekly Canadian Video Game Deals posts, you might have noticed that often, Future Shop and Best Buy would have many of the same deals. Some weeks were even the same practically verbatim. For those unaware, this is because– or at least likely due in some part– to the fact that both companies have been under the same ownership since March 2001, when the American-based Best Buy bought the Canadian Future Shop chain for $580 million Canadian.

Future Shop continued to be run as a subsidiary of Best Buy Canada, who would curiously not only go on to open their own big box retail stores (and later smaller “mobile” outlets) across the country, but even do so in very close proximity to their Canadian-born cousins– sometimes with each store operating in the same block, the same parking lot, or even the same building (as seen above)!

That said, in some ways this felt almost inevitable. Nonetheless, it came as a surprise to many that Best Buy Canada abruptly shut down all 131 of their Future Shop stores on March 28th, 2015. Of those, 65 are to be reopened following rebranding as Best Buy on April 4th, while some 500 full-time and 1,000 part-time employees will be left without work as the company offers affected employees severance and outplacement support assistance.

The end result of this $200 million Canadian reorganization, which will also go towards adding the sales of large appliances to its stores and improving e-commerce operations, should see the Future Shops which were already near Best Buy stores closed, while those on their own are rebranded. The Future Shop website has an FAQ posted to address customer concerns, with the Best Buy store locator being positioned to help customers identify which stores are available near them. For what it’s worth, I’ve not found any Future Shop locations listed there that aren’t reopening, leading me to suspect that stores which are closed will no longer be listed.

Sources: The Globe and Mail, via Consumerist

For further reading, CBC News has an article on how this, along with the closure of Target, reflects the changing face of retail in Canada.

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Editorial

Well, I can say this much: Updating the weekly deals will be a little bit easier from now on, at least, but I never would have wanted this, nor is this the way I’d have wanted it. Speaking of which, it appears any sales which caught your eye in Future Shop’s flyer will be honored by Best Buy.

To be quite frank, if only one store/brand could survive, I’d rather it had been Future Shop. That one, to me, feels more like “Canada,” and it wouldn’t really be any different from the way GameStop in the U.S. continues to operate its stores as EB Games here. Perhaps Best Buy learned from that experience, as GameStop attempted to slowly push their brand onto the EB Games stores in operation here before Canadian customers pushed back. By making this change so abruptly, there’s really no time or ability to push back; within one week, the deed will have been done.

On a more personal note, I do have some fond memories of Future Shop. During my period of working at PetSmart, I would often venture over to the Future Shop next door as my schedule allowed. The parking lot even played host to a big Halo 2 launch event, complete with guacamole Doritos, a giant Master Chief statue you could win, and a chance to get a picture with the Chief himself… oh, and to play the game, of course. I’m not sure if anyone ever won that statue, as it would go on to reside inside the store for some time to come.

That location was also where we got a new television when our old one busted. It was bad timing, as high definition still wasn’t a thing quite yet, and so that new style of television was out of our price range. We did manage to get a good one, along with a copy of Sonic Gems Collection for the GameCube. It’s also where we picked up our Hot Rod Red Nintendo DS with Mario Kart DS when that game launched, and I think I nabbed a copy of Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 there, too.

Sadly, that location would prove indicative of the problem Best Buy seemed to invite upon itself, as the lot behind this location did indeed soon come to house a Best Buy store as well.

Other fun launch events included the Nintendo 3DS and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, both at the Yonge-Dundas location. Well, sort of; the Skyward Sword early play was at the Eaton Centre (which has its own Best Buy), while the early purchases were made across the intersection at the Future Shop location.

Before all of that, though, was probably my favorite Future Shop memory: When Nadia and I were out to hunt down a special launch deal for Super Mario Sunshine, one where you would get a free copy of Luigi’s Mansion and a tote bag with it. You can read all about how that went down here.

If you’re interested in further shots of Future Shop nostalgia, you can check out this entry on their blog, for however long it lasts. It was made in 2012 to celebrate their 30th anniversary, which is all the more sad now, when you look back at it. The photo albums on their Facebook page also provide a nice trip down memory lane, with not only a look at items and sales they’ve had over the years, but some other fun events and stuff, too.

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David Oxford

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you're interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.