|Here's a bunch of updated comments that have been received in the last few weeks!|
My Incredible Universe story started back in 1980 as a manager of Video Concepts in Houston, and ended as Tandy V.P. fighting with John Roach as to the size Incrdible Universe stores should be. I sold my video rental store (The Video Stop) that I started during High School and was offered the position as manager of a new mall electronics store (mainly video rental) named Video Concepts. A few years later Video Concepts was bought by Jack Eckerd (Eckerd Drugs) and I was sent to L.A. as area manager. When Tandy bought Video Concepts, I was made regional manager, then asked to move to Ft. Worth as V.P.
There was no doubt that Video Concepts was being beaten badly by Circuit City, Best Buy, Conn's, etc., but the mall store sales/foot were very good. I was in the initial meetings to grow the Video Concepts mall stores into the big box Incredible Universe. It was clear to me and others that the idea envisioned by John Roach would not work. His idea was to destroy the competition by creating 150,000+ sf mega stores instead of the 75,000 - 100,000 sf stores of our compitition.
My group ran endless senarios, and always came to the conclusion that to succeed Incredible Universe would have to take 25%+ of the business from all our competitors. We knew this would not happen. So Incredible Universe was dead before it even started. The stores were simply to large, and had to much "dead space" (space not supporting sales). They were fun to play in, but they were never profitable.
I left Tandy in 1993 after the first few Incredible Universe's opened. John Roach came from Radio Shack and started filling open positions with Radio Shack people that did not understand big box type sales. They kept pushing for bigger and bigger, never understanding that smaller would have saved Incredible Universe, and it would possibly still be here today.
I never worked with Incredible Universe at the store level, but I did fight for it. I wish you well.
Well I came across your lil site and yes I too helped open the Houston location! I started as a lil cashier, and then after a month was made a cash office supervisor!
We had a lot of scams thieves but in all it was fun! I left when we hear about the closings of the newer stores. So I was there about a year.
It would be great to catch up with some of the folks that worked there!!
I do know that one of our "cast members" is now a Entertainment Reporter for I believe CNN.
Cheers to you!
My saying was "If it isn't in the BLACK HOLE, it wasn't in my house!"
Thank you so much for making this website happen!
My name is Brian Walter and I grandopened, and sadly, closed the store in Woodbridge, VA (or the Potomac Mills store as they also called it). Anyhow, it was kinda cool how I got to work at Incredible Universe. I was fresh out of highschool there in Woodbridge and of course looking for a job for some extra cash before I went on to college.
Anyhow, before the store was completed we had new next door neighbors. We of course introduced ourselves (my parents that is) and found out that the new store manager of IU was our new neighbor Frank. There was a lot of excitement growing around the new building and a lot of the town was trying to figure out what kind of store it was going to be... Of course Frank filled us in and long story short, he helped me get a job there in the Loss Prevention Dept. This was great becuase I really wanted to be in that Dept. And obviously, there was no denying the advantage I had into getting the job... ANYHOW! Training was great! We had an offsite locationt hat we used for a bit until they started to move product into the store. At that point, LP monitored the store and that was a blast! Grand Opening was AWESOME! So many people from Washington DC and officials, etc were there. Sonny Bono was actually there and was spotted by Frank (which was wearing a clown outfit) at the time went up to Sonny and said hello and asked if he would sing "Babe, I got you Babe" song. of course he declined... But it was good humor for all!
Anyhow, flashing foward a bit. We noticed that there was a decline in corporate presence and assistance which obviously led to the closing of our store. As you may have recalled, LP was first in and last out at the store. Well, it was a Monday morning and I was scheduled to open the store (nothing really new to me at that time). So, it was a normal morning, nothing odd the night before really. We had just gotten a new LP manager about 3 weeks prior that they actually moved to our store from out of state with his family. I got to the store and normally I'd be the only car in the lot. Well, a bunch of cars were there, and all next to each other. So this told me it wasn't just as if some people had left their cars in the lot the night before. This right away made me wonder what was goin on.
Well, as I walked in my heart sank. I knew what was going was not a EARLY morning party. Anyhow, the company did handle things very respectfully and the severance pay wasn't bad at all. It's obvious it made things really hard on a lot of good people. The lights wern't really all on in the store and President Brian Levy asked if I knew how to turn them on, of course I said YES! As I was making my rounds into the power room behind the 'Black Hole'. I called my new manager at home to let him know what was going on. He was in utter shock (especially after the company had just moved him and his family there)! The day went on and I was asked by the President of the company and THE head of Loss Prevention to stay on borard to oversee the dismantiling of the store.
Anyhow, I just wanted to share my little more than average story with everyone. And to be honest, what brought me to this site this morning was that I had a dream last night that Tandy wanted to re-open the stores!!! lol Anyhow, I do have pictures i'll send your way. I also have a keychain, the original IU green jackets, a IU mug, etc. Anyhow, i'd be more than happy to share those items via pics!
Anyhow, thanks again & take care!
Hello my name is Jermaine. I worked in the Hollywood, Florida store in the warehouse. I really loved working there. The mobile electronics department was heaven to me. I used to go in there to test the equipment. Our store had the McDonalds. The store was purchased by Home Depot. I guess it was the perfect size for them. No signs of the old store remain so it was great to see the old stores on your site. It brings back memories.
Hello, when did you start this?
I'm from the Seattle store. I and many others from my store felt the same way about the store and the experiences that we shared there.
I to have found the love of my life at IU. We have been married for 9 years this summer. I know of at least 5 marriages that started at the Seattle IU. I was the maid of honor in one of them.
I still keep in touch with about 20 people all together.
I have TONS of pictures. I just have to find them.
I’m a former Radio Shack store manager, one of the stores that was affected by the first month of Incredible Universe’s grand opening in Tempe, Arizona, the only month in which I actually showed less than a 10% sales gain in the 14 months I ran that store. My store was located at Kyrene and Warner in Tempe.
No matter, I was still a fan of IU. I went there a number of times during its run. Loved the stage, watching people use the virtual reality headsets, and just the general atmosphere. Now that Fry’s owns the store, the feeling no longer exists... it’s not a fun place to shop. It’s more utilitarian and when I do manage to get to Tempe (I now live in Albuquerque…there are no huge electronics stores here), make it a point to visit one of the Fry’s stores in the area, but really try to get to the former IU.
Good luck on your reunion site!!!
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