RICHMOND, Va. — Circuit City is coming back.
A New York businessman, who bought the Circuit City brand, domain name and associated trademarks in October 2015, plans to relaunch the website next month selling consumer electronics merchandise.
Ronny Shmoel announced Monday at CES, the annual gadget and technology trade show in Las Vegas, that his plans for bringing back Circuit City will begin with the launch of “a dynamic, social-focused e-commerce site” on Feb. 15.
At the press conference, Shmoel said the company would then expand operations by opening kiosks, stores within other stores, and eventually its own showrooms, according to TWICE, a consumer electronics industry publication. He didn’t provide specific details.
The new Circuit City website would be a more personalized shopping experience, melding e-commerce, social networking and solution selling to “allow the products to find the consumers” as they explore the site and its varied content, TWICE reported.
The website will include augmented reality, virtual vignettes and video chat with tech support and a virtual personal shopping assistant supported, the publication reported.
Circuit City also is working with Skinny IT to provide home installations of products bought online, and the company has contracted with Taylored Group to design experiential showrooms ranging from 8,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet, TWICE reported.
The product assortment will include computers, small appliances, and gaming, imaging and smart-home products, said Shmoel, who is chief executive officer of the new Circuit City.
Kelly O’Keefe, professor of brand management at the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter, said he thinks the Circuit City brand has less pull now than it once had.
“I think it’s a gamble,” O’Keefe said about the new Circuit City owner trying to relaunch the chain. “But I think there is potential. The key is how they bring it back. For Circuit City to come back, they are going to have to do a better job than what they were doing toward the end.”
Circuit City was founded in 1949 when Samuel S. Wurtzel opened the first Wards Co. television and appliance store on West Broad Street in Richmond. The company eventually was renamed Circuit City, and the Fortune 500 chain grew to become the nation’s largest consumer electronics retailer, with more than 600 stores. But Circuit City filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2008 after years of declining sales and a severe economic downturn. Two months later, after being unable to come up with a buyer or the financing to continue operating, the chain decided to shut down all operations. The last stores closed in March 2009.
Systemax bought the chain’s intellectual property for $14 million in May 2009. Systemax used the brand as an online-only venture, eventually consolidating the site under its TigerDirect online name and dropping the Circuit City name. It stopped using the site in 2012.
Shmoel acquired Circuit City’s brand, domain and associated trademarks from Systemax in October 2015.
In early 2016, he said he planned to use the Circuit City name on new retail outlets and a website. He expected then to open the first store in the Dallas area later that year and to have 50 to 100 corporate-owned stores operating by 2017.
The stores then were conceived to be about 4,000 square feet — much smaller than the typical Circuit City superstore, which was about 33,000 square feet.