Rising from the ashes: Circuit City, CompUSA and Hard Rock Park

In the “it just gets weirder” department, Circuit City may not be completely dead and buried.  In a recent filing, Circuit City said that it had sold its brand, intellectual property and internet assets to Systemax, the same company that owns Tiger Direct and, last year, purchased what was left of CompUSA.  The price paid was about $6.5 million.  Circuit City will also get a share of the sales generated by the name.  If that is not weird enough,  CompUSA-which has maintained an online presence since the brick and mortar company shut down…well, shuttered all but about 23 stores, that is…last year.  Well, they are, apparently, opening about fifty new stores under the CompUSA brand.  Huh.  Well, here’s hoping that Systemax has more retail savvy than Carlos Slim had.  Best Buy needs some kind of competition other than Wal-Mart.

prLogo In yet another odd turn for my favorite little theme park that went out of business…the new owners of the former Hard Rock Park announced its new name last week:  Freestyle Music Park.  Freestyle happens to be the name of a park that the new owners are building in Russia, of all places.  (Before I upset my Russian friends, I mean no disrespect here, I just find it odd that THIS particular group of people would be building a park in Russia while trying to get HRP going again.)  Supposedly, the group had this name as the ‘b’ plan if they were unable to continue using the Hard Rock branding.  According to one story, Hard Rock International was going to continue the licensing deal but the alleged owners of the intellectual property rights to the park wanted way more money than they are worth…something like a half million dollars per year and 1.5% of the revenue.  At least one judge thought there was some merit to this crooked deal so the new owners decided to just rebrand the whole park.  Probably a good idea anyway.  Nothing wrong with ‘hard rock’, but the themes went over the heads of the parks main customers: kids and teenagers, many of which don’t know what the hell a ‘Led Zeppelin’ is or who the Eagles were.  Hell, I barely know myself…and I’m over forty.

This notion of purchasing defunct brands and resurrecting them is nothing new and has gone on for quite some time.  Names like DuMont, Philco, Polaroid and Westinghouse have all been purchased and reused a number of times.  No too long ago, I owned a DuMont color television that was made in the early Nineties.  The DuMont company went out of business over forty years ago.  Polaroid ceased being a legit company not too long ago and is now pretty much a brand name.  There is still a company attached to it, but it is not the same company that Edwin Land ran.  The thing that confuses me is the reuse of recently dead brick and mortar chains like Circuit City.  Why buy a brand that has so much negativity attached to it?  When I see the name, I still think of poor service.  I will continue to think that for quite a while, and, I’m sure, I’m not the only one.  Systemax is doing something right, though, if they are successful enough to open fifty new stores under the CompUSA name.  What do I know?

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