By Michael Duran
Since the demise of Circuit City, the electronics chain’s biggest competitor – Best Buy – had been left mostly unchallenged by surrounding retailers. That changed on March 19, however, with the opening of Ultimate Electronics at the Mall at Whitney Field in Leominster.
It’s a good bet that none of us had ever even heard of Ultimate Electronics until recently. So, where did this new store come from and what’s it all about?
According to “The Ultimate Resolution Center” – Ultimate Electronics’ customer contact number – it is a “growing retailer” based in Denver, Colo.; it has a couple of dozen stores, all west of Massachusetts. The new Leominster store is part of a plan to expand toward Boston.
Yet William Cook, general manager of Leominster’s Best Buy, seemed almost indifferent while discussing the effect the new Ultimate Electronics might have on his store. “We’ve been growing both as a store and a member of the community since we opened in 2007,” Cook said. He is confident that Best Buy has done enough in the past to “differentiate” them from the competition, and will continue to do so despite the new store.
“It goes without saying that Best Buy stores in general saw more customer traffic when Circuit City finally closed, but this store has been seeing a steady increase in sales even before Circuit made their big announcement,” Cook said. “I will say that not everybody knew we were out here until they were forced to seek us out. Since then, we’ve gotten great feedback from our customers; people still leave our store wondering why they never came here before.”
If that’s the case, then shouldn’t there be tension over the potential loss of customers to a new electronic store attached to the only mall in the area? Cook doesn’t sound worried. “Now that our customers know we’re here and what we can do for them, they won’t want to go anywhere else,” he said. “People might sell the same things we do and even offer similar services, but it’s our customer-centered goals and strategies as well the awesome staff we have here that have always set us apart.”
There’s no doubt that Cook wants his store to succeed, but he said he welcomes competition. “We don’t mind a competing store in the area,” he said. “After all, these are tough times and the more jobs out there, the better.”