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Thursday focus: Shopping life

If high-tech has a discount bin, its Web address is

Instead of offering the newest and costliest gadgets to early adopters, the Web retailer thrives by offering bargain-hunters inexpensive, lagging-edge technology.

Computers and parts such as video and sound cards, hard drives and memory, make up most of the inventory at The company also sells consumer electronics such as MP3 players and flat-panel TVs.

Frugal, knowledgeable customers are the company’s base, said Peter Green, the company’s marketing manager.

“Our focus is on close-out, end-of-life, excess inventory, refurbished items,” Green said. “We really don’t carry the latest and greatest technology. We’re a deal company.”

Some of the bargain items would be attractive only to the ubergeek.

One recent bargain was a 2.4 gigahertz Pentium 4 desktop computer for $55 – sans monitor, keyboard, mouse and hard drive. But since also sells these components individually, that’s no impediment to the technically proficient.

Dismal results: Usually the brightest spot in their fiscal year, the fourth quarter brought dismal results for retailers reporting their earnings this week.

Here’s how retailers suffered in the holiday shopping season and a sample of the various cutbacks they plan.

•Target Corp.’s fourth-quarter profit fell 41 percent from a year earlier. It said in late January it is cutting headquarters staff and new store openings and closing a distribution center.

•Macy’s Inc. reported that its fourth-quarter profit fell nearly 59 percent. It said this month it is cutting 7,000 jobs, trimming capital spending and slashing its dividend to preserve cash.

•Home Depot Inc. reported Tuesday that it lost $54 million in the fourth quarter, compared with a profit of $671 million a year earlier. The loss was due largely to costs associated with its plan to shut its four smaller home-improvement chains, cutting 7,000 jobs.

•Office supplies retailer Office Depot Inc. reported a $1.54 billion loss, compared with profit of $18.8 million a year earlier. Excluding hefty charges, the loss totaled $199 million. It will close 118 stores this year.

•Nordstrom Inc. reported Monday that its fourth-quarter earnings fell 68 percent from a year earlier to $68 million, largely due to heavy discounting over the holidays.

From wire reports