Gun Hill Road Circuit City store was a bust: neighbors

Community members and elected officials want a supermarket on Gun Hill Road, now that the Bronx’s only Circuit City is closing.

Circuit City, the battered national electronics retailer, is pulling out of the Bronx. According to neighboring businesses, Circuit City’s 1750 E. Gun Hill Road store was a bust.

“It didn’t bring any crowds and it won’t take away any crowds,” said Eastern Wok Buffett owner Andy Lam. “A Circuit City wasn’t right for this market. No one wants to spend $3,000 for a piece of electronics.”

The 20,000 square foot store, part of Circuit City’s “The City” makeover, opened August 15. New York Knicks legend John Starks and two Knicks City Dancers were on hand for the ribbon cutting. Elected officials hoped the store would revitalize 1750 Gun Hill Road’s shopping center, still suffering after A&P Supermarkets’ departure a few years ago.

The store’s “The City” design promised self-service pickup, non-commissioned sales representatives and product seminars. According to Community Board 11 district manager John Fratta, the mall “looked like a desolate shell” before Circuit City moved in.

“We waited a long time to get a store in that location,” Fratta said. “Now we’re back to square one, and it’s devastating for the community.”

Circuit City crossed into the Bronx despite financial losses in 2007 and early 2008. Then September’s economic crash changed everything.

On Monday, November 3, the electronics giant announced plans to close 155 stores countrywide, citing “waning consumer confidence and a significantly weakened retail environment.”

“These stores are underperforming or are no longer a strategic fit for the company,” said Circuit City spokesman Jim Babb. “We deeply regret the impact our

announcement is having on the communities where these stores are located.”

Vornado Realty Trust owns the mall. Questioned about Circuit City’s imminent closure, a Vornado spokesperson responded, “No comment.”

“I’m sure Circuit City lost money over there,” Anthony Digbasanis, manager for the Dunkin’ Donuts at 1780 E. Gun Hill Road, said. “You only saw five or six cars in the store’s parking lot at a time.”

Digbasanis, Fratta and Lam agreed that E. Gun Hill Road needs a new supermarket. But supermarkets generally don’t pay high rents.

“We’ll reach out to Vornado,” Fratta said. “This probably came as a shock to them too.”

T.G.I. Friday’s will soon occupy a space in the shopping mall.

“My customers want a supermarket,” Digbasanis said. “And I follow the stocks. I wasn’t surprised when I heard this Circuit City was going to close.”

Circuit City is currently holding a liquidation sale on E. Gun Hill Road.

“We’re at 10 percent to 30 percent off,” Michael Coppola, the store’s manager, said. “On some items a little lower.”

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