SCIENCE / TECHNOLOGY : Stanton-Based Computer City Joins the Consumer 'Superstore' Concept

Compiled by David Olmos, Times staff writer

With the proliferation of so-called "superstores" for consumer electronics products, office supplies and similar products, it probably was only a matter of time before the concept caught on in the computer retailing business.

On Monday, Stanton-based Computer City Supercenters opened its first "exposition-style" computer store in Garden Grove, the first of 20 outlets that the company plans to open throughout the United States by 1994. The 20,000-square-foot store has about four times the space of the average computer retail outlet, company officials said, and features personal computers, software and related products from about 40 manufacturers.

Computer City is not the first computer superstore in the county. Soft Warehouse Computer Superstores, a Dallas-based chain, has large stores in Fountain Valley and Torrance, as well as four other U.S. cities.

Soft Warehouse opened a 20,000-square-foot store in Fountain Valley in September and has been "very successful," says Mike Stevenson, regional operations manager. Stevenson says the Soft Warehouse concept differs from Computer City in that it emphasizes product discounts but very few services.

Computer City bills itself as an "everything-under-one-roof" store and emphasizes not only its wide selection of computer products, but also its computer training and other services.

Computer City is owned by Inacomp Computer Centers Inc., a Troy, Mich.-based computer chain founded by Joseph Inatome of Del Mar in 1976. Inacomp is one of the nation's largest computer chains with about 115 outlets and sales of about $400 million.

While Inacomp and other large computer chains tend to focus on large corporate customers, Inatome said Computer City will try to target the small business and home computer user.

"The idea is a one-stop shopping center for computers, software, peripherals, computer magazines and books," said Inatome, chief executive of Computer City.

Besides selling computer hardware and software, Computer City will have a software testing laboratory and training classes. The store also will have a special computer area for children.

Mike Rusert, Computer City's general manager and executive vice president, said the company chose Orange County as its first location because "it is one of the fastest-growing places in the United States and a great marketplace."

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