Incredible Universe

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ahitssara
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Post by ahitssara » 03 Jun 2007 23:51

Would Warner Brothers store count?


My friends and I keep old cards from out of business companies from the 90's, because the colors and the way they look are comical. Such as, Incredible Universe, where modern day Fry's in North Highlands, CA is located.

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TheStranger
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Post by TheStranger » 04 Jun 2007 01:12

North Highlands? Hmm, isn't that actually the one up in Natomas (on Northgate)? The other Fry's I can think of in the area is the railroad-themed one that just opened up in Roseville in April on North Sunrise Avenue...

Here's a Wiki article on them:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incredible_Universe

They were apparently operated by Tandy (like Radio Shack had been).

Storewanderer says that the current Fry's in Natomas is on "Tandy Lane" near Northgate so that must be the ex-IU.
Chris Sampang

ahitssara
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Post by ahitssara » 04 Jun 2007 02:17

Oh, Natomas, North Highlands, same difference. n_n

I don't drive, I just observe the drive. So yeah. That wasn't my point. The Incredible Universe was.

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TheStranger
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Post by TheStranger » 04 Jun 2007 05:38

So, did you ever visit the store itself? What was it like? (I wasn't out in this area until '03.)
Chris Sampang

Super S
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Post by Super S » 23 Jun 2007 01:13

I understood that Incredible Universe was indeed owned by Tandy Corporation.

They briefly had a presence in the Northwest, and built a store in Wilsonville, Oregon. That location also became Fry's.

A lot of people told me about how great IU was. I visited once, and the place seemed more like a circus than anything. I was not impressed by the chain.

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tesg
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Post by tesg » 23 Jun 2007 23:14

It was indeed a Tandy concept. I actually went to the Wilsonville Incredible Universe store job fair. It was either the first or second store to open in the chain...the Dallas-Ft Worth area store opened within days of Wilsonville.

Didn't end up working there, but I sure did shop there. My cousin and I nicknamed it the "Incredible Overglorified Radio Shack" after it opened.

The concept was to be an interactive event store with knowledgeable employees who would get you the equipment that fit your specific needs. A place where you could play with the product before you bought, where you would come for product-related events.

You entered into a circular hub with a center court. An elaborate disc jockey stand was one of the first things you saw. Various departments, set up like mall shops, surrounded the center court area. The area had a large music store, camera store, computer store, software store, phone store, a Radio Shack-like parts store, etc. There was a second level above this intended as a food court, but I don't think it had anything but a Pizza Hut.

Exiting the court towards the back, you entered a huge second area with televisions, appliances, and home theater. There were some theater rooms to sample equipment in, much like an Ultimate Electronics today.

They also had a bargain room (dubbed the "Black Hole") and accessory areas as you wound back, left, and around toward the front of the store left of the court area where the checkouts were (which actually handled very little of the merchandise...most of it was sold within departments). There was a small corridor to the checkout area from the center court area, but the idea was to circle you through the whole sales floor. The checkout area had a massive "impulse buy" space. Candy, blank tapes, oddball stuff...

And that was basically half the structure. The rest of the building was back room stock space and install areas.

It was a neat idea but very labor intensive. And they were priced kind of high. But it was a great place to browse...to check stuff out...and bargains could be found. And their selection was...well...incredible.

The disc jockey booth disappeared pretty quickly. The center court area became floor space for featured products and big sale items. I remember a Canon rep there to highlight their fax machines was really annoyed about the whole thing because she was used to office supply store presentations and had no idea she'd be put in the middle of something like this.

The very last thing I bought at Incredible Universe was a digital phone/answering machine at the Sandy, UT store. It was the display model, which I pulled right off the wall at the store closing event.

Fry's acquired a significant block of the stores. The Wilsonville store was one of those. I've been in the Wilsonville Fry's once and it was depressing as hell. They painted everything white and used a dot matrix printer to create department signage. It was a dump.

The Sandy, UT store was where Costco sits now (the Incredible Universe sign remained for years after it died) and the Denver store became the "Great Indoors" (the one by Park Meadows). In both cases, I think they used part of the original structure (basically some of the exterior walls) in their construction.

Here's the Wilsonville store...

Image

martyk
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Post by martyk » 19 Jul 2007 16:58

The Sacramento (Northgate) now-Fry's IU had up until maybe a year ago(and maybe still has) one of the old IU delivery trucks, still painted as an IU truck - I guess Fry's was too cheap to bother repainting the it!
I'll have to look for it the next time I go there.

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Dave
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Post by Dave » 21 Jul 2007 09:13

There was one Incredible Universe store in Virginia, at Potomac Mills in Woodbridge (Dale City), near Washington.

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Post by marshd1000 » 23 Aug 2007 15:31

The Incredible Universe at the SuperMall in Auburn, WA (near Seattle) had a McDonald's inside of it. It also had a entrance to it from inside the mall. In fact, the store was the first tennant of the mall and was open before the mall was built. I think it only lasted a year after the mall itself was opened. It was vacant for awhile but became a Sam's Club and joined the Wal-Mart on a outparcel of the same mall. Sam's also closed off the interior mall entrance.

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Brian Lutz
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Re: Incredible Universe

Post by Brian Lutz » 12 Oct 2008 20:19

Speaking of Incredible Universe, here's something I found at (appropriately enough) a PC recycling store near here:

Image

There are a number of these baskets scattered throughout the store, although most have the IU logos covered up by stickers with the store's own logo.

I only ever went to the Auburn one once, around the time of the grand opening. If I recall, the place was flashy, but the prices were rather high. They also opened before the rest of the overconfidently named SuperMall of the Great Northwest opened, so at that time there was no mall entrance. The Sam's Club that's there now still has the "balcony" part of the structure you see below, but no other immediately recognizable signs of the original occupant. It also has no entrance to the mall, and part of the original building also got subdivided into a health clubr. The rest of the so-called Supermall is mostly filled with the the usual outlet mall stuff, although one other store to note is the Sports Authority store, which was originally opened as an Oshman's SuperSports USA.
The Sledgehammer - Version 2.0 - Seattle Area Malls, Retail History, and other random things.

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