- Micro Electronics, Inc.
Micro Electronics, Inc. Headquarters Hilliard, Ohio, USA Divisions Micro Center, Micro Center Online, PowerSpec, WinBook, Redemtech, IPSG
Foundation & 1980s
Micro Center was founded in Upper Arlington, Ohio in 1979 by two former RadioShack employees. Their idea was to have a retail computer store: customers would walk in and find a knowledgeable sales staff and everything computer related. The store was located on Lane Avenue a couple of miles from the Ohio State University campus. Much of the early business came from professionals such as lawyers or dentists, who could afford the relatively expensive 8086 IBM clones or the Apple II computers [source?]. Merchandise sold at retail margins, business was good, and a loyal following was formed.
In the mid 80s, the store moved down the street to a larger location (currently Whole Foods Market), also on Lane. The business offices and the software and accessories department were on the second floor of the building. A small store in nearby Westerville, Ohio opened up in 1986. In 1988 the company developed a new store layout based on the "Computer Department Store" model. The high-margin accessories, such as ink, paper, and software would be placed in the center of the store. Around the perimeter would be several upscale "departments," where higher valued merchandise would be sold. These departments would include peripherals, BYOPC (Build Your Own PC), portable devices, name brand systems, (Apple) Macintosh, furniture, and the book department. The first store of this type was opened in Marietta, Georgia in October of 1988.
The 1990s saw much growth and change for the company. Home Office was spun off to its Hilliard headquarters. Many other facilities followed at the Hilliard location: computer recycling, computer OEM. A new retail distribution center was built and re-located from Hillard to Columbus, Ohio.
In 1996, the Lane Avenue store was moved to its current location on Bethel Road, Columbus. The new layout was rolled out to 19 locations in 13 states.
Micro Electronics avoided taking on debt to finance the rapid expansion and generally built its new stores in urban areas much larger than Columbus.
The Gaming Department opened at all 19 stores in 2006. The $100 Xbox 360 mail-in rebate promotion has allowed Micro Center to buy into the gaming market in a way reminiscent of Microsoft's own aggressive Xbox pricing. The 2007 opening of the chain's 20th store in New Jersey included an all new layout, soon to be included in a few of their older stores.
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