The Zombie Websites Of Dead Retailers

Comp USA

Photo: Mike Kalasnik/Flickr

Many big retailers have died since the rise of the web and e-commerce — either by being snatched up and killed off by their competition, or by failing to adapt and going bankrupt. Even so, a lot of them don’t disappear completely. The brands strive on in some form.

At the least, their domain names survive as the last remnant of once-great brands.

So what happens when you plug in the old domain names of these dead retailers?

Well, some of them really are dead, only living through a zombie domain that redirects you to the new owner’s site.

Other brands, though, have been resurrected.

Hollywood Video, once the biggest rival of Blockbuster, perished when parent Movie Gallery went bust in 2010. But the brand is still alive in a totally new online form.

Borders shuttered all of its stores and liquidated after going bankrupt in 2011. Its online store was purchased by Barnes & Noble.

Borders.com is now just a welcome page with a letter from Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch.

Linens 'n Things filed for Chapter 11 in 2008 and was eventually sold to a group of liquidators.

It emerged from bankruptcy in 2009 and LNT.com — which was kept up during liquidation to sell its wares — continues to be open for business.

Eckerd was once the fourth-largest drug store chain in America until it was sold off and broken up by parent J.C. Penney in 2004. Many stores were bought and rebranded by CVS but Rite Aid made a huge purchase in 2007.

Eckerd.com survives only as a redirect page to Rite Aid's site.

Montgomery Ward was liquidated in 2001. Three years later, catalogue marketer DMSI bought the brand name and brought it back from the dead as an online and catalogue retailer.

Colony Brands now runs Montgomery Ward's e-commerce site Wards.com.

Tower Records filed for bankruptcy twice in the mid-2000s and liquidated. The brand and website ended up in the hands of online merchant Caiman in 2007.

Tower.com lives, selling the usual fare of music, DVDs, books, and video games.

Pets.com, a poster company of the dot com bubble, went from its IPO to liquidation in less than a year. PetSmart bought up some of the assets, including the domain name.

There's no sign of Pets.com branding anymore. The URL redirects you right to MyPetSmart.com.

CompUSA was sold to liquidators in 2007. Systemax, the company that runs electronics retailer TigerDirect, bought the brand and tried to revive it.

Systemax first used the CompUSA brand as a storefront both online and offline. Here's what the site looked like in October 2012.

But it eventually decided to bring CompUSA's e-commerce site under the TigerDirect brand.

Systemax also purchased the brand name, trademarks, and website of Circuit City after the big box chain ceased operations in 2009.

You could still buy electronics from a fully branded CircuitCity.com until recently. Here's what it looked like October 2012.

It suffered the same fate as the CompUSA website. Now, CircuitCity.com is just TigerDirect.

Now see the trends that these retailers weren't able to keep up with...

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