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Surest Sign That You're Near Silicon Valley 

Fry's Electronics

What would you get if you crossed Radio Shack and 7-Eleven with Best Buy and Costco? The result would be Fry's, an electronics superstore that has something for both the techno do-it-yourselfer and the guy who just wants to get a good deal on the new Madden game. Fry's is best known in Silicon Valley, but has had a presence in Fremont for a long time. Some Fry's locations are known for their kitschy themes: The one in Campbell, for instance, looks sort of like an Egyptian pyramid. The Fremont store's theme isn't nearly as well developed, but appears to revolve around electricity and lighting. In any case, theme or no theme, the store itself is absolutely humongous, at nearly 150,000 square feet. There are motherboards and other computer components for the diehard geeks; printers and accessories for the plug-and-play set; refrigerators and vacuums for the home-improvement crowd; DVDs, CDs, and games for media buyers; and a truly bizarre array of impulse-purchase items at the checkstand -- think "dining habits of the nocturnal software writer." Service isn't exactly the chain's hallmark, but in today's big-box retail world, that can also be said about most of Fry's competitors. The place gets especially crowded on weekends and the lines can appear overwhelming, but the checkout system is extremely well organized, and you'll make it to the cashier pretty quickly.

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