Monday Aug 22, 1966 to Present
U.S.Best Buy Co., Inc. is an American multinational consumer electronics retailer headquartered in Richfield, Minnesota. Originally founded by Richard M. Schulze and James Wheeler in 1966 as an audio specialty store called Sound of Music, it was rebranded under its current name with an emphasis on consumer electronics in 1983.
The company also expanded its product offerings to include home appliances and VCRs, in an attempt to expand beyond its then-core customer base of 15- to 18-year-old males. Later that year, Best Buy opened its first superstore in Burnsville, Minnesota. The Burnsville location featured a high-volume, low-price business model, which was borrowed partially from Schulze's successful Tornado Sale in 1981.
In 1994, Best Buy debuted "Concept III" stores in several new markets including Los Angeles and Washington, DC. Concept III stores were larger than previous stores and included expanded product offerings, "Answer Center" touchscreen kiosks that displayed product information for both customers and employees, and demonstration areas for products such as surround sound stereo systems and video games.
Best Buy launched its "Concept IV" stores with its expansion into New England in 1998. Concept IV stores included an open layout with products organized by category, cash registers located throughout the store, and slightly smaller stores than Concept III stores. The stores also had large areas for demonstrating home theater systems and computer software.
In January 2001, Best Buy acquired Musicland Stores Corporation, a Minnetonka, Minnesota-based retailer that sold home-entertainment products under the Sam Goody, Suncoast Motion Picture Company, Media Play, and OnCue brands. Best Buy purchased the company for $425 million in cash and the assumption of $271 million of Musicland debt.
In May 2006, Best Buy acquired a majority interest in Chinese appliance retailer Jiangsu Five Star Appliance for $180 million. At the time of the deal, Jiangsu was the fourth-largest appliance chain in China with 193 stores across eight Chinese provinces.
Best Buy also expanded its Geek Squad market tests in March, opening Geek Squad precincts in FedEx Kinkos stores located in Indianapolis and Charlotte, North Carolina.
In March 2007, Best Buy acquired Speakeasy, a Seattle-based broadband VOIP, data, and IT services provider. The acquisition was worth $80 million, and under terms of the deal, Speakeasy began operating as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Best Buy. The company's products also became part of Best Buy's For Business program.
Best Buy was one of several companies named in a 2007 report by Greenpeace for purchasing raw materials or manufactured products derived thereof from logging companies that in the opinion of Greenpeace, contribute to unethical deforestation of taiga in Canada. Since that time, however, the company launched what it calls Greener Together to increase the energy efficiency of its products, and reduce consumer waste through more recyclable packaging and proper disposal of certain electronic components such as rechargeable batteries and empty ink cartridges.
On April 26, 2008, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined the company $280,000 for not alerting customers that the analog televisions it sold would not receive over-the-air stations after the digital transition on June 12, 2009.
In July 2008, Best Buy announced that it would start selling musical instruments and related gear in over 80 of its retail stores, making the company the second-largest musical-instrument distributor in the US.
In February 2009, Best Buy leveraged its partnership with The Carphone Warehouse to launch Best Buy Mobile, a Best Buy-branded mobile retailer. Best Buy Mobile standalone stores were opened in shopping malls and urban downtowns. These Best Buy Mobile outlets were also added in all Best Buy-branded stores.
As a way to improve its image and past environmental issues, the company introduced a recycling program in 2009 that has since collected nearly half a billion pounds of consumer electronics and e-waste and is available at all their stores for a nominal fee. These items are then handed over to certified recyclers in the U.S. for proper recycling. The company's goal is to collect one billion pounds of recycling. It also has been named to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency top-50 list of the largest green-power purchasers. In 2011, the company purchased nearly 119 million kilowatt-hours of green power – electricity generated from renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass, and low-impact hydropower.
In 2012, in response to the overall revenue decline, Best Buy announced plans to undergo a "transformation strategy". Stores began to adopt a redesigned "Connected Store" format, providing the Geek Squad with a centralized service desk and implementing a "store-within-a-store" concept for Pacific Kitchen & Bath and Magnolia Design Center.
In April 2012, Brian Dunn resigned as Best Buy's CEO during an internal company investigation into allegations of personal misconduct stemming from an inappropriate relationship with a female Best Buy employee. Best Buy named Director George L. Mikan III interim CEO following Dunn's resignation.
The internal investigation was released in May 2012 and alleged that Best Buy founder and chairman Richard Schulze knew of Dunn's inappropriate relationship and failed to notify the Best Buy board. Schulze subsequently resigned his chairmanship of the company. Best Buy Director Hatim Tyabji replaced Schulze as Best Buy chairman.
In 2014, Best Buy settled for $4.55 million in a class-action lawsuit filed against them in April 2010 by consumers who claimed Best Buy was making unsolicited phone calls in contravention of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
On March 28, 2015, Best Buy announced the shutdown of the Future Shop chain in Canada; 65 of its 131 former locations were converted into Best Buy locations, while the rest (primarily those in close proximity to an existing Best Buy) were closed permanently.
On March 1, 2018, the company announced that it would shut down its 250 standalone Best Buy Mobile stores in the United States by the end of May, due to low revenue and high costs. The Best Buy Mobile stores were reported to account for 1% of the company's revenue.
In their attempt to combat child pornography, the FBI hired several Best Buy employees from the Geek Squad division to covertly work for them flagging potential targets. In one incident, a customer brought in his computer for troubleshooting, which a Best Buy employee flagged as containing images of child pornography and reported to the FBI. The customer was indicted for possession of child pornography, although the judge in the case later threw out nearly all the evidence against the defendant due to "false and misleading statements" made by an FBI agent while trying to secure a search warrant for the customer's house, and the government ultimately dropped the case.
During the lockdown and increased frequency of working from home, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Best Buy announced that its US online sales (increased purchase of computers, printers, tablets, fitness tech, and other gear) for the Q2 of 2020 had tripled. Despite these revenues, Best Buy has laid off over 5,000 employees in early 2021, along with forcing many others into part-time positions.