Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

McDuff to Shut Last 53 Stores 7 in Area Where Chain Began in '44

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

McDuff to Shut Last 53 Stores 7 in Area Where Chain Began in '44

Article excerpt

McDuff Electronics, the chain that started in Jacksonville's

Riverside in 1944, will close its remaining 53 stores in

February, parent company Tandy Corp. announced yesterday.

Before cutbacks in 1993, Tandy operated 235 stores in the

McDuff chain.

McDuff will close seven stores in the Jacksonville area along

with others in the Southeast and Texas. McDuff also operates a

warehouse on Stevens Street, as well as stores in St. Augustine,

Brunswick and Savannah.

"The stores are unprofitable due to the difficult environment

in the electronics industry," said Lou Ann Blaylock, vice

president of corporate relations for Tandy. "The electronics

industry is product driven. At this time, there are not as many

hot, exciting products."

McDuff stores also have been battered by price cuts and the

fast growth of competitors with larger stores. McDuff stores in

Jacksonville have from six to 14 employees, a spokeswoman said.

The Jacksonville market is home to electronics competitors

including Sound Advice, Circuit City, Service Merchandise and

Montgomery Ward's Electric Avenue, as well as McDuff's Tandy

sister division Radio Shack. In July, competitor Standard Brands

of America went out of business, just weeks after it closed its

Jacksonville stores.

Tandy's decision to close the McDuff chain came as sad news to

Olene Thomas, widow of McDuff co-founder Randolph Thomas.

Randolph Thomas and his brothers opened the first McDuff

appliance store at Edison and McDuff avenues in 1944. That store

is one of the seven in the area scheduled to close in late

February.

"I am truly sorry about this. It's [McDuff] been a part of our

lives for so long. It's just a shame not to have them," said

Olene Thomas, 78. "We have a lot of very fond memories of all

the days we had with McDuff. He [Randolph Thomas] was very

devoted to McDuff."

Randolph Thomas and his brothers built McDuff into a appliance

and electronics chain they sold to the now-defunct Sav-A-Stop

Inc. in 1969.

Thomas bought it back in the mid-1970s. In 1980, the chain

merged with Memphis, Tenn.based Scott Appliances and was

acquired by Tandy five years later.

Thomas died in June at age 77.

Store employees declined to comment. …

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