Dick Smith Is A Sad Wasteland Of Defeat And Broken Dreams

The Dick Smith of my childhood was a magical place. I would beg my parents to take me there, so that I might see Age of Empires 2 projected large onto a giant screen, or spend a few precious minutes racing cars on a demo console. Gazing with wide eyes at the gadgets and gizmos around me, I was resigned to never owning them but found satisfaction in looking and dreaming.

The store that I visited this week was a pit of despair and humiliation, as consumers picked the bones of the carcass and workers faced the end with resigned apathy.

And they mean everything - even if it is bolted down.

I hadn't intended to enter the doomed vessel that is the Westfield Sydney Dick Smith store when I passed by on Wednesday. But while I was on my way to poke around clothes racks and pretend I knew what I was doing, I was suddenly struck with the realisation that one of my favourite childhood stores would soon be gone for good. I felt the need to go and record what remained, like a stenographer by the bed of a dying man.

If anything were to be left over, I expected it to be the Kindles.

The strangest thing I saw were little areas between shelves that had been cordoned off for no apparent reason other than to obstruct traffic (pictured top). The only conclusion that I could draw was that the shop attendants were phenomenally bored and, considering that they will all soon be out of jobs, decided to build themselves makeshift forts from which they can fling unsold phone cases at each other after closing.

Phone cases are the one thing they have in abundance. Phone cases, and ennui.

A few phones left, but other walls were barren.

There wasn't much concern regarding security. In the span of only a few minutes I saw two people set off the security alarms (which were $400 per pair), each waiting dutifully by the door before realising that nobody gave a damn. Though to be fair, often people don't care even if the store isn't imploding around them.

In lieu of a security guard, a lone party rocker stood watch over the store, determined to party rock until the end of his days.

Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

Though he was "priceless" and a "collector item", I briefly considered inquiring about him anyway. Ever since a boy in my high school art class obtained a cardboard cutout granny, it has been a weird, irrational dream of mine to own a cardboard cutout of a person. I have no idea what I'd do with it. Maybe leave it outside closed doors so that people get a shock when they open them. Maybe talk to it for ten hours straight to max my Charisma skill.

Unfortunately logic won out when I realised that there was no way I could justify bringing him home. "Amanda, why have you brought Redfoo into our home?" There's no good answer for that.

Besides, he's a liar. The deals were not party rocking. Maybe swaying gently in a rocking chair as they nod off into blissful oblivion.

There is nothing for me here, only death.

The game bargain bin, the one area of possible potential, held a selection of predominately PS3 games which you already have if you have any interest in them. They included Gran Turismo 5, SingStar Ultimate Party, Uncharted 2 and 3 and Beyond: Two Souls. I admit, like a sucker, my heart rate momentarily spiked when I spotted the sign. Game Titles: 70% off. I knew all would be an arid desert, but the optimist in me had to go and poke the tumbleweed.

Five hundred bucks for this weird table, if you want your dining room to look like a contemporary art gallery.

All the fixings were on sale - tables, shelves, cupboards (though it was noted that the lockable cupboards came sans keys). Everything you need to start your own store, because I can't imagine what use you'd have for a giant slanted table with appendages for securing mobile phones, unless you ran a store. Maybe to hold one of those fancy dégustation meals you see on Masterchef and Heston's Feasts, where the food is stuck to sticks to make it look like they're flowers.

That little sign there says "Sold - Matt". I don't know if Matt sold it, or bought it. Either way, good on you Matt.

While I was photographing the above table, a store attendant helpfully informed me that it had already been sold. I was not interested in buying it until he informed me I could not have it, at which point I immediately tried to figure out how I could use it. "I could use it as a computer table. I could put a fishbowl on it. It seems like the kind of table that you'd put a fishbowl on. I could get fish." I have no clue for what purpose the purchaser has found for it, but I have to commend his presumable ingenuity.

Such savings. Much deal. Wow.

That would never fly at JB Hi-Fi.

Everywhere were little yellow and purple signs proclaiming deals, hastily scribbled and slapped up all over the place, as if the existence of discounted items in this no man's land free-for-all wasn't clear from the utter devastation and chaos surrounding us. The employees were clearly going through the motions. "Why are we putting up signs?" "It's the way it is done, son." "But why? What purpose does it serve?" "It is how our forefathers did it, and their forefathers before them. Now shut up and write - the people have to know that our last items are on display."

Last one on display, last one on display, last one on blooming display, please take it, I want to go home.

I feel like there's a good Disney/Pixar story here. The Little Radio That Was Left Behind, with voices by Harrison Ford and Ellen Page.

As previously reported, store fixtures such as peg hooks and signs were all up for grabs. If I were opening a shop and needed pegs, I'd probably buy them in bulk from the internet, rather than scavenge closing down sales. I suppose you could use them for an art project. You can use everything in art projects.

Probably some sort of statement on consumerism.

The best thing I saw by far, and the one thing I more than briefly considered actually purchasing (aside from Redfoo), was the clearance on clearance stickers.

Yo, I heard you liked clearances...

Upon first entry to the store it hadn't appeared as stripped bare as I had expected - there were a few phones, cables and mini portable turntables remaining. But upon closer inspection it became apparent that the presence of marketable products was a mere illusion. The remnants of commerce were all configured to give the appearance of much more going on in the store than there actually was. All that was really left were things that even bargain hunters didn't want to pick up.

Check out that wire management.

This reminds me of the Parliament of the Daleks.

Behind the counter a pile of disabled security devices and display pegs spilled out from a cupboard, as though somebody had run a knife through the belly of the store and spilled its disembowelled guts onto the floor.

$0.25 each.

As the world crashed in around them the staff marched on, carrying out their duties despite everything around them indicating the utter collapse of all systems of organisation, civilisation and humanity. Akin to the band on the Titanic, they continued brave-faced toward the end of all things, dutifully guiding patrons toward life boats while the water rose around them. Godspeed, my friends.

Empty displays at empty tables.

I will never bring my children to Dick Smith to check out the 51st Sims X expansion. And as flippant as I am about it, it's a little bit sad. As much as it declined in its dying days, and as offputting as its prices often were, I'll always associate Dick Smith with my childhood wonder and excitement.

Goodnight, sweet prince. And flights of erectile dysfunction jokes sing thee to thy rest.

Stahp, stahp... It's already dead.


Comments

    I'M SORRY PRETEND THERE'S A BLOKE CLAPPING HERE

      Hold the phone, we can put GIFs into comments now!?!

        Mods (read Allure employees) have been able to do it for ages.

          Ah, I wondered why the mobile page formatting was stuffed (normally only polls break it).
          Looks like Mod gifs do it too.

    Nicely written :-)

    Sad when a store closes down like that. I'll always remember Dick Smith for its higher-than-realistic prices and less-than-satisfactory range of gaming items.

      The weird thing about DSE was that while their sticker prices were high, they often had really good sales. I got my PS4 there, for about $30 less than the equivalent bundle at JB.

      I remember it for selling electronic parts like LEDs and their build electronic stuff kits.

    I owned a cardboard cutout of a person once. It was a nearly life-sized Michael Voss that we bought to point people to our front door for my sister's 21st.

    The lustre quickly wears off after you realise that you can only really put a feather boa on it once. Then you're left with a nearly human sized cutout of a football god sitting in your hallway sullenly waiting for a chance to matter again.

      I imagine his coaching record would have tarnished its appeal still further.

        This was in 2006 so we were actually excited about the prospect of Vossy in the coach's box.

        Those were different times.

          A more innocent time. You could leave your front door unlocked at night without worrying that other clubs would come in during the night and steal all your players.

            That's only because we were winning too much to get any draft picks worth stealing.

    I think this might be one of my favourite Kotaku Australia articles ever. Certainly the funniest.

      Seconded. Can you order her to go back and get the Redfoo?

    This had me chuckling quite hard. The people near me were not impressed. I suspect that was because they weren't reading this article. Amazing.

    (also can someone please explain why I can't upvote comments?)

      Please. Neither have I been able to for a few weeks. Thought it was noscript, but it doesn't work even with it globally disabled.

    Dick Smith and Masters should be ashamed the way they failed to listen to consumer trends. Thousands of Aussies are now out of work to their arrogance.

    I can't understand why people are so moved by Dick Smith closing. It hasn't been a decent shop ever since it stopped being "Dick Smith Electronics" and became "Dick Smith as owned by Woolworths please come into our store and pretend it's JB HiFi".

      Me either. Never used the store once they stopped having the wall of useful bits many, many years ago.

      Yeah this.. When Tandy vanished & Dick Smith became a faux JB HiFi it was just downhill from there.

    Good article. When I was a kid though we had a Tandy instead of a Dick Smith.

    Stopped going to Dick's when they stopped selling electronic kits and components. Jaycar FTW

    Judging by the images (and the situation in my local DS store too) I blame their exuberance in thinking Mobile Phone Cases would be a wise business decision

    I mean lets be honest, there are more cases available for sale then Peg Hooks, and they have 1000's of Peg Hooks for sale

      Indeed. What's worse, was that they thought it wise to invest in generic cases for only a handful of popular handsets. If they'd diversified to some of the more niche handsets, or more unique cases, it might have been a good thing. Maybe.

        the downside of owning a niche handset (Xiaomi mi4) is that NO ONE stocks cases for it

    I'll always remember Dick Smith's as the place I got a 'how to' electronics kit as a kid, and for years to come would go shopping there for transistors, diodes, LEDs and capacitors.

    Although I've never had a good experience with Dick Smith, it's still a little sad seeing the staff standing in a nearly empty store while customers pick away at what's left.

    Was in there yesterday they had a lot of phone cases still left over nothing was worth buying only purchase I bought was Skull candy headphones R.I.P Dick Smith

    The dick smith store I work at is much the same stock wise (So many phone cases....) but I'm pleased that we've kept our store looking less like a dead carcass.

    There are blocked off, empty isles for sure, but no mess, no scattered boxes of security tags ect.

      Yeah mines the same. We are dying but at least we are still trying to keep the place neat and organized .

    Goodnight, fair maiden. I'll always remember you as "that one place where I bought a tablet and it didn't work and it was a real hassle trying to return it and when I did and asked for money back you made me feel like as much of an asshole as possible even though I used that money the following week to buy a laptop, which has the worst trackpad ever and is missing a P key." Ah, memories.

    The overpriced phone cases were part of the problem. Stock your shop with things that lots of people will buy from a physical shop or GTFO.

    The Dick Smith Electronics of old was eaten by the hideous retail monster and Jaycar took its place. The destruction wrought on the old Dick Smith by retail management machines who thought they could take on Harvey Norman without good prices was appalling. They deserved this painful death.

    Last edited 24/04/16 6:13 pm

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