Is Parallax disappearing from Fry's?

I've noticed over the past few weeks that the number of Parallax products on the racks at Fry's has dwindled drastically. Also, Fry's has had some big discounts on Parallax products such as XBee Wireless Pack 32440-RT for $32 , Joystick $2.99, ColorPal $9.99 (I grabbed the last of these in Roseville) and such. There maybe more at the Sacramento store, but the Roseville store has a very limited selection of Parallax products as of 7/7/2017.

Is Parallax getting pulled like LittleBits did?
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  • I could find very little Pararallax gear in the three Fry's stores around San Jose recently. No Propellers no bots. Very disappointing.
  • Mike GreenMike Green Posts: 22,577
    edited July 8 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I've noticed something similar at the Microcenter store in Minneapolis. There are all sorts of variations of Arduino and RaspPi though. In fact, last visit to the store I don't remember seeing any Parallax products, but I didn't look very hard.
  • All I see is OSEPP and Actobotics these days :( I think I bought the last PE Kit, just for the Prop Plug.
  • Xanadu and I shop at the same Fry's in San Marcos, and it's had a dwindling Parallax presence for a while. I was last in a month ago, and saw very little. I left the store highly depressed. (But not before buying a commiseration candy bar, which they so thoughtfully put in the checkout lane. I'm guessing a lot of people leave Fry's depressed.)
  • Perhaps this was an early insight to what you are observing at Fry's .... Several components from Parallax's main website have disappeared over the last couple of years to make way and focus more on education.

    https://www.parallax.com/news/2016-03-25/last-chance-sale-our-focus-education-means-we-are-simplifying-our-product-line



    Beau Schwabe -- Submicron Forensic Engineer
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    Seriously at this point in the game the ship has sailed and "I have no expectations" <- said someone we know
  • Well sorta maybe. I've commented about Frys and the prop chip. What sort of geniuses, on the same row and same shelf and isle, place the 40dip prop chip next to the ShmartBoard QFP-44 propeller board? And do NOT stock the QFP-44 version?

    Also gotta wonder about googling "parallax propeller chip" and a bunch of different sources come up with the banner of shop for parallax...... and then comes a link to the Parallax site....
    Ordnung ist das halbe Leben....
    Ich lebe in der anderen Hälfte
  • Xanadu and I shop at the same Fry's in San Marcos, and it's had a dwindling Parallax presence for a while. I was last in a month ago, and saw very little. I left the store highly depressed. (But not before buying a commiseration candy bar, which they so thoughtfully put in the checkout lane. I'm guessing a lot of people leave Fry's depressed.)

    That checkout lane is part of the reason I hate going there. You think you'll make it through without buying any of that stuff and then before you know it... I never have cash on me, and can't put food on the company card, so it costs them labor because they have to run two cards :)

  • xanadu wrote: »
    I never have cash on me, and can't put food on the company card

    At least it recognizes candy bars as food. A Snickers fulfills at least three of the food groups. It's got lots of corn syrup, so there's your vegetable.

  • blittledblittled Posts: 680
    edited July 10 Vote Up0Vote Down
    As Mike Green mentioned I went to a MicroCenter in Cleveland and they had 3 (now 2) Parallax Items on clearance. I picked up the last EMIC II for $24.
  • kwinnkwinn Posts: 7,601
    edited July 10 Vote Up0Vote Down
    It's got lots of corn syrup, so there's your vegetable.

    Hope that was a tongue in cheek comment. While corn is a vegetable, and relatively healthy, corn syrup is anything but. Using corn syrup to sweeten drinks is one of the largest contributors to the obesity epidemic.

    In science there is no authority. There is only experiment.
    Life is unpredictable. Eat dessert first.
  • Haha, I'm pretty sure it was. I bought some lemon pepper this weekend, and ruined a really nice piece of fish with it. Checked the label, salt was the #1 ingredient!
  • Parallax's distribution priorities have shifted away from brick-and-mortar establishments. The educational customers have requested Amazon Prime as their source. Many school districts have made specific agreements with Amazon for this purpose and it provides the educators with the latitude they need to quickly equip their classes.

    For commercial and industrial customers (Propeller chips) we will continue to support Mouser and Digi-Key as key outlets.

    Ken Gracey
  • Does this mean you are dropping out of direct sales on the Parallax site as well?
    Ordnung ist das halbe Leben....
    Ich lebe in der anderen Hälfte
  • Does this mean you are dropping out of direct sales on the Parallax site as well?

    Not at all. Direct sales are our favorite.
  • I stopped by Fry's in Austin this morning hoping to get a discounted EMIC II. They still have space for about 30 different Parallax items, but about half the hooks are empty. It appears that they are selling off Parallax items without replenishing the inventory. Nothing was marked at a lower price. I did find an EMIC II, but it was at the full price of $59.99. Maybe I'll try to buy it later on if the price is ever marked down.
  • The net continues to eat away at brick and mortar...
    San Mateo, CA
  • Meanwhile Fry's is promoting and stocking the BBC Micro:Bit. I'm not sure who is buying them, but this was targeted at schools originally. Maybe it's targeted at summer STEM camps?
  • Does this mean you are dropping out of direct sales on the Parallax site as well?

    No. Direct sales are imperative.

    Ken Gracey

  • Ken,

    Moving to Amazon Prime for educators is understandable. Most of the Parallax ( as well as other vendors) stuff that Fry's carries on the shelves seems to be either opened already, previously sold or just lost in the store. I wonder how many RasPi Boards and accessories they lose each week. Having a more reliable source seems to make sense.
    However, I will miss seeing the Parallax products on the Fry's shelves during my Friday evening Fry's Walk-a-bout.
    Meanwhile Fry's is promoting and stocking the BBC Micro:Bit. I'm not sure who is buying them, but this was targeted at schools originally. Maybe it's targeted at summer STEM camps?
    I believe some schools are just giving these away to students enrolled in certain STEM courses. At $14.99 ($12.99 on promo code) with BLE, Accelerometer and compass, an LED array, and access to 20 pins from the edge connector, it's certainly a bargain. First the RasPi now this. It's like whole new British Invasion.
  • The microbit is pretty outrageous, both as a generic microcontroller/computer, and as a learning platform. It has an almost dizzying array of code choices, including blocks, Python, and plain old JavaScript. Heater be proud!
  • JonM wrote: »
    Ken,

    Moving to Amazon Prime for educators is understandable. Most of the Parallax ( as well as other vendors) stuff that Fry's carries on the shelves seems to be either opened already, previously sold or just lost in the store.

    Amazon provides some tremendous benefits to us, like being able to control the presentation, the inventory levels, and the product families - all without latency. The message can be as current as we need it to be, totally opposite of brick-n-mortar management. It's basically a real-time portal for us, under direct control.

    The returns from brick-n-mortar stores are a big problem, by the way. As you noted, parts are always missing from packages. Who pays for that? The supplier. I don't care what kind of agreement you have in place with retailers; the fact they hold your inventory and usually owe you money provides significant leverage to process their returns and credit their account. And if you build this overhead into your retail prices all customers pay more since their retail should match your direct prices. It's just a dated model.

    Ken Gracey
  • Ken, Do you fulfill, or leave that to Amazon also? If Amazon fulfills, do they provide customer data to you (what they ordered, when, email)?
  • Ken, Do you fulfill, or leave that to Amazon also? If Amazon fulfills, do they provide customer data to you (what they ordered, when, email)?

    Until now we've used "free shipping" which is really drop-ship from Parallax. Teachers have told us "if it's not on Prime we can't buy it!" which is known as Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) and stocked by them. This is the model we're switching to now. We invoice directly from Parallax so we have the customer information too (everything they ordered, e-mail, etc). This makes the truly superior to many forms of product distribution models.

    Ken Gracey
  • Sounds good. I'm glad you're able to cultivate a customer relationship from Amazon sales. Early on (okay, at least 10 years ago) when Amazon started canvassing for FBA vendors, they were restricting what they shared. They explained it as claiming a similar arrangement as B&M, where a wholesaler is usually not privvy to customer data. I never grew my little business to the point where I could inventory the levels they were asking, so nothing ever came of it in any case. But this and other policies of theirs just annoyed me no end.
  • I love seeing Parallax using Amazon Prime. Probably 90% of everything I buy is via Amazon Prime. I can almost always get stuff the next day, and often the same day.
    For Parallax stuff, I will still use direct from the site unless I need it fast and Amazon Prime has it.
  • Will you still be selling to distributors with an online store?
    Founder of Kinvert
    https://www.kinvert.com/
  • I just went in the Campbell Fry's yesterday, and the Maker aisle is a mess. The bulk is taken up by NTE discrete parts that may have been hanging there for years. Then there is 3D printer filament, Actobotics robotics parts, small Arduino boards, and miscellaneous stuff. They are huge stores and seem to have so much dead space in them.

    They did have Micro:bit boards, but not many. And they were not presented well. There was one Propeller DIP chip under the wrong cost tag. So it appeared to cost well over $20. I couldn't find where it should go, so left it in place. Surprisingly they had a stack of Intersteller Propeller hats at the end of the aisle.

    What would be cool is if they would sponsor special event days, and have demos to generate interest. Sort of like the Vitamix booth at Costco ;-) The closest I have seen is vendors attending STEM nights at schools. I ran into Intel at one, and my wife actually won a board.

    On that note I assume that Parallax is aware of PLTW (Project Lead the Way) and is already in contact with teachers. This is present at several Silicon Valley middle and high schools. Here's some info for anyone interested in learning about it:

    https://www.pltw.org/about-us
    http://dartmouth.unionsd.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=473712&type=d&pREC_ID=1015369
    http://leigh.cuhsd.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=442020&type=d&pREC_ID=954149

    Xilinx is involved in PLTW in this area.

    In other news besides many Radio Shacks, the Silicon Valley recently lost the last dedicated technical bookstore earlier in the year - digitalguru.com, and the Ham Radio shop http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/03/24/sunnyvale-ham-radio-outlet-closes-after-26-years/
  • Will you still be selling to distributors with an online store?

    Yes, you are not in danger. You add tons of value to what we do in education - exactly the kind of distribution partner we like :)

    Ken Gracey
  • Keeping a distance from brick-and-mortar stores seems prudent to me. I'm afraid the handwriting is on the wall regarding their future. RadioShack is only the first shoe to fall. There will be others, and it's hard to recoup anything from a declared bankruptcy.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • I could write a book on what it's like to work with large retailers. I've got tons of experience from 20 years of doing exactly this. Between 20 MicroCenters, 8,000 RadioShacks and 13 Fry's Electronics I could consult with people on the tricks, pitfalls, gotchas, and considerations of selling through these places. In short, running lean is very important with a quick-moving business and you can't do that with large retailers. They hold inventory. . .of yours. This poses a number of considerations related to stock balancing, rebates, returns, new releases, payment terms, credit levels - ultimately changing the balance of who has leverage in the relationship. And in any negotiation, the actual cost paid by such a distributor isn't something to be determined early in the discussion. They can easily burden you with another 20 points if you aren't careful. While lawyers point to agreements, they don't mean much when there's a situation that needs to be resolved.

    There are also tremendous benefits related to visibility and marketing, but these benefits have declined in recent years.

    That's about all I should say here, in public. On the whole, it's actually been very beneficial to Parallax and our customers to work with these chains. But we're changing, quickly!

    Ken Gracey

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