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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Business

Magnolia Hi-Fi outlet to close

Magnolia Hi-Fi will close its North Division store by the end of the month, bringing to an end more than a decade of doing business in Spokane.

When the Seattle-based retailer opened the 22,000-square-foot store at 8016 N. Division in November 1994, it was touted as the high-end, one-stop shop for electronics, mobile equipment and computers. In December 2000, Magnolia was purchased by electronics giant Best Buy, and expansion was focused in Seattle, Portland and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Spokane store became more expensive to supply and buy advertising for as it is the only one in this market, said Magnolia Marketing Director Stewart Meyer. And intense competition in the electronics sector has cut into the store’s sales, Meyer said.

“The store has just been underperforming compared to other stores in our chain,” Meyer said.

Meyer said the company is trying to find jobs at other Magnolia or Best Buy locations for the store’s 20 employees, 19 of whom are full-time. Best Buy has a store on Newport Highway and another in Spokane Valley.

Best Buy purchased Magnolia on Dec. 15, 2000 for $88 million in cash, according to the publicly traded company’s annual reports. At that time, Magnolia operated 13 stores in Washington, Oregon and California that averaged 10,200 square feet and had average annual sales of $8.4 million, the reports say.

Best Buy opened new Magnolia stores in the Bay Area and has tried to manage the chain so that Magnolia’s high-end product line didn’t duplicate its parent company’s offerings. Annual reports say Best Buy believes Magnolia could one day have as many as 150 stores nationwide.

Magnolia started as a family-owned business in Seattle’s Magnolia district in 1954. Today, Magnolia operates 22 stores in California, Washington, Idaho and Nevada. The name was changed to Magnolia Audio Video in the summer of 2003 to more accurately represent the upscale retailer’s image, a Best Buy annual report said.

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