The 1960’s: Birth of the Big Box and Best Buy

Chain Store Guide Through The AgesAddress:
7601 Penn Ave S
Richfield, MN 55423

612 291-1000

Year Founded:

Total Stores (US + Canada):

Total Annual Sales:

Senior Executives:
Hubert Joly- President and Chief Executive Officer
Richard M. Schulze- Chairman Emeritus


1962 proved to be a landmark year for retailing.  That was the year that four big box, general merchandise discount retailers emerged and changed the world of retailing forever.  Walmart, Kmart and Target were established and were soon to be nationwide game changers.  Not to be overlooked, eventual regional power Shopko was also founded in 1962.  Five years later Big Lots entered the scene.

Best BuyOne year after the founding of Big Lots, a single unit specialty retailer opened that was soon to change the face of consumer electronics retailing.  In 1968 the concept for Best Buy emerged from the confines of an audio specialty shop, called Sound of Music, which had been founded just two years earlier by Richard Schulze and friend. The company name was changed to Best Buy in 1983.

In recent years, even after the demise of national brick and mortar rival Circuit City, Best Buy has experienced disappointing financial results.  Though much of this was after the start of the recession, consumer electronics retailing was considered to be somewhat recession-proof, as the market developed new in-demand products including ever-larger flat screen TVs with a bevy of new features, smaller and more versatile digital cameras and a progression of ever smarter mobile devices.

Though it seems like eons ago, it was just 16½ months ago when Best Buy dismissed its homegrown, raised through the ranks CEO, for essentially an ethics issue.  Best Buy followed up by forcing out its founder Dick Schulze on a charge of not divulging what he had known on the subject as the case was unfolding.

Shulze quickly began to summon his allies, both from within and outside the company, to reclaim the retailer and take it private.  This at a time when Best Buy was additionally burdened by a myriad of sales, merchandising and policy issues.

Virtually one year ago to the day, Best Buy brought in its new CEO Hubert Joly, who quickly implemented several bold initiatives aimed at righting the direction of Best Buy’s fortunes.  These moves quickly gained traction, so much so that they won the confidence of founder Schulze and he returned to the company as Chairman Emeritus.  Now it seems a matter of time to determine if the recent and near-term moves by the current brain trust can return Best Buy to its former glories.


CSG 80 YearsThis year, Chain Store Guide celebrates its 80th anniversary. In honor of this occasion, we are hosting a monthly series of editorials called “Chain Store Guide Through The Ages”, starting with the 1930s. We will take a look at what was happening in that time and how it affected the industries we now serve. Our Company Snapshots will examine companies from that period and see where they are today.

*Image courtesy of: Clive Darr via Wikimedia Commons