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Hot Topic To Buy ThinkGeek Parent Company Geeknet 107

jones_supa points out the news (also at Ars Technica, and -- paywalled -- at the Wall Street Journal) that clothing and music retailer Hot Topic has announced plans to buy Geeknet, parent company of ThinkGeek and ThinkGeek Solutions, for $117.3 million. ThinkGeek Solutions is a distributor of video-game themed merchandise through licensed web stores. Hot Topic Inc. will pay $17.50 per Geeknet share. Privately held Hot Topic, based in Los Angeles, has more than 650 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Geeknet will become a Hot Topic subsidiary. This news inspires some nostalgia here; ThinkGeek was for a long time one of Slashdot's sister sites under the umbrella of VA Linux, and I had some fun years back helping to set up the ThinkGeek booth at LinuxWorld in New York.
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Hot Topic To Buy ThinkGeek Parent Company Geeknet

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  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @11:03AM (#49775441)

    I'm reminded of a great ending to a South Park episode which pretty much summed up my feelings on Hot Topic.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I don't care if Hot Topic owns them. I rarely buy anything from ThinkGeek anyway with their "Best Buy"-level price markups. I can't imagine them raising their prices much more for something as silly as a "USB powered Pacman LED lamp" at $32... plus $7.00 shipping (more than it actually costs to ship).
      • Shipping costs (Score:5, Informative)

        by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @11:36AM (#49775653)

        plus $7.00 shipping (more than it actually costs to ship).

        Actually that's probably pretty close to their actual cost to ship an item like that. Couriers like Fedex and UPS charge by weight (or dimensional weight) and discounts to shippers are based almost entirely on volume. Thinkgeek doesn't do the kind of volume Amazon does and won't get the kind of discounts Amazon gets. So I'd expect their freight cost to be $5-7 or so for an item like that for ground service with tracking. Then you have to consider handling. They have to pay for a box and stuffing which will probably cost between $0.50-1.00 and they have to pay someone to put the item in the box, seal it, and ship it which is probably another $0.30-0.75. Frankly $7 isn't shocking at all.

        People have gotten spoiled on freight costs but I used to own a company that would ship several hundred packages a week and $7 shipping and handling for delivery by UPS or similar is pretty much what you should expect to pay from anyone who isn't a very large company that ships thousands of packages a day.

        • I think he was saying that a tiny USB PacMan light is going to be so small as to not actually cost $7 to ship it. It should be about $3 or less. The prices are already marked up so fucking high I can see up Ms. PacMan's skirt, they can afford to let a couple of small items ship for free. THIS is why I just look for stuff on ThinkGeek, then buy it on Amazon where the prices & shipping are not so fucking outrageous. There are a couple of assholes sellers on Amazon charging $18 to ship a fucking $7 item, b

          • Go to UPS.com and calculate some ground shipping rates. To ship 1lb from Chicago to Seattle is $10.13 via ground. FedEx is no better.

            • USPS shipping really ought to be included as an option on any US ecommerce site for this reason.

              • by Anonymous Coward

                USPS: For when you really, truly, think that just maybe something needs to be somewhere sometime, and you enjoy calls from customers.

                • USPS offers tracking [usps.com]. Your shipping back-end should capture this tracking number, write it to the order shipment table, and send e-mail to the customer. That way, calls about "where's my stuff?" can be handled with a script: "Log in to your account, open past orders, and click the Track button."

              • by pspahn ( 1175617 )

                I think there's a few problems with that.

                First, consumers are already hard-wired to detest shipping fees. As a result, retailers will often simply add the shipping cost to the sticker price (or a reasonable estimation). On some items they lose a little, and on some items they get a little back. Doing this has its merits. One of them is that it greatly simplifies your shipping logistics. For complex catalogs composed of highly variable item dimensions, this is a god send. On the other hand, it does tend to

                • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

                  Shipping fees are easy to get past, simply eliminate them when the customer spends enough, which is exactly what many companies do. The thing think geek is really selling, the idea that you can 'express yourself' by buying stuff. Oh well, no matter how distasteful some of that 'geek' stuff is, it is still better than 'designer' bullshit and the marketing that goes with it.

          • by Tran ( 721196 )

            How little do you think this light is? It is USB powered, not USB thumb drive size.
            According to various sources, this item is 8"x8"x 2.75". Not so small an item to ship, once you factor in the packaging in which this light might come in before it goes int a shipping box.
            So $7 might be still a bit on the high side but not as ridiculous as it is being made out to be.

          • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @01:17PM (#49776453)

            I think he was saying that a tiny USB PacMan light is going to be so small as to not actually cost $7 to ship it.

            Even a 1 pound ground package will be cost something close to $7-10 and probably more if it is any distance. UPS and Fedex don't deal in weights less than a pound - they round up to the nearest pound. You don't have to take my word for it. Go ahead and try to get a better price from Fedex or UPS. I promise you that you cannot do it.

            It should be about $3 or less.

            It isn't $3 and won't be unless you ship a HUGE (meaning many tens of thousands) number of packages. The only way you might get a shipping cost that low would be to ship it in a padded envelope using first class mail via USPS with no tracking. I've been shipping via UPS and Fedex for literally decades. Your perception of what it should cost to ship doesn't match reality.

            The prices are already marked up so fucking high I can see up Ms. PacMan's skirt, they can afford to let a couple of small items ship for free

            High prices does not mean they are necessarily profitable and no it doesn't mean they necessarily can afford to ship stuff for free. Maybe they can but you simply don't have the information to make that judgement.

            There are a couple of assholes sellers on Amazon charging $18 to ship a fucking $7 item, but for the most part Amazon ships stuff for very little, or free.

            There is no such thing as free shipping. If it is "free" then it is simply rolled into the price of the item, possibly at the expense of the profit margin of the vendor. Companies like Amazon get good shipping rates because they ship an enormous volume of packages. I use their Prime service and it's great but I have no illusions that the service is actually free of charge.

          • by aitikin ( 909209 )

            It should be about $3 or less.

            It costs more than that to ship a pack of guitar strings (I work in music retail shipping equipment all across the US). USPS is the cheapest and that costs $3.00 plus $0.95 for insurance. FedEx and UPS come in at around $11 to ship (including insurance) halfway across the country, and that's at our discounted rates. I literally lose money every time someone orders a pack of strings through me.

            Companies that ship stuff like that for free are using them as loss leaders [wikipedia.org] in hopes that you'll come back and bu

      • by Anonymous Coward

        ThinkGeek's business is buy crap from DealExtreme, mark it way up and try to sucker some fools.

      • I bought my first thing from think geek just last month. It's a set of 10 glass drink coasters stacked on each other like biology slides, and each coaster has a slice of the brain on it. So when they're stacked it's like a full brain image. like an MRI. it's pretty cool I think.

    • I bet their corporate headquarters is in Scottsdale. [youtube.com]
  • by sphix42 ( 144155 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @11:07AM (#49775459) Homepage

    I'm still waiting for a Leonard Nimoy Futurama head-in-a-jar with Real Torgo Eating action. Maybe they already sold it.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      Well, depending on how committed you are, there could be exactly one available now...
    • I'm still waiting for a Leonard Nimoy Futurama head-in-a-jar with Real Torgo Eating action. Maybe they already sold it.

      Like all other cool things on ThinkGeek, it is sold out and will never return, no matter how many addresses you sign up for the "Notify me when in stock" list.

  • I have a sneaky suspicion that this post was stuck in the moderation queue for just short of 60 days.
  • by dark.nebulae ( 3950923 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @11:15AM (#49775503)

    This news inspires some nostalgia here; ThinkGeek was for a long time one of Slashdot's sister sites under the umbrella of VA Linux, and I had some fun years back helping to set up the ThinkGeek booth at LinuxWorld in New York.

    Ah, yes, back in the day before Dice ruined slashdot, those were fine times, weren't they...

    • by sjbe ( 173966 )

      Ah, yes, back in the day before Dice ruined slashdot, those were fine times, weren't they...

      You think Dice ruined slashdot and yet you are still here. Curious...

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Um, your UID says you're new here as of, what, a week ago?
  • This is perfect. I knew there was an emo deep inside every geek :D
    • The Hot Topic here has mostly game, movie, pop culture t-shirts and hats, similarly themed novelties, and an adult section in the back.

  • First board meeting..."People who don't usually go to the mall...meet people who don't usually go out of the house."
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... i'll be able to buy a cute little robot to put my black lipstick on for me and another to organize all my spiky braclets to bookend my binary station display internet-ready radio pre-programmed with several emo music streams already?

    Wicked, i'll get mom's credit card ready!

  • by McGruber ( 1417641 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @11:34AM (#49775637)
    Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm [sycamorepartners.com], owns Hot Topic, so it's really them who is buying Thinkgeek.

    Good luck figuring out who owns Sycamore Partners.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The founders/partners are Stefan Kaluzny and Peter Morrow.

      Kaluzny's profile:

      Mr. Stefan L. Kaluzny is a Managing Partner, Managing Director, and Co-Founder at Sycamore Partners. Prior to Sycamore Partners, Mr. Kaluzny served as Principal and Managing Director of Golden Gate Capital. He joined Golden Gate in 2000. At the firm, he was involved in the firm's investments in Express Inc. Prior to joining Golden Gate Capital, he co-founded Delray Farms, Inc. and also served as its Chief Executive Officer. He serve

      • Those are the partners – that is the management of Sycamore. However, that is not who owns them.

        Think of Sycamore as an investment advisor of a investment company, which is kind of like a mutual fund – it is the just the scale is very different. A few outsider investors (pension funds, the ultra-rich, etc.) buy shares in the investment company. The investment company than buys companies.

        Sycamore is paid on the performance of the fund. They may or may not have a direct ownership in the investment

  • That was the only stuff I ever really liked at Hot Topic, I bought a Gir plush, later gave it to my son. That show rocked.
    At least there's some overlap in their motif and Thinkgeek's inventory, but I'm waiting to see if emo-nerd-goth-geek becomes the new thing .
    • That was the only stuff I ever really liked at Hot Topic, I bought a Gir plush, later gave it to my son. That show rocked. At least there's some overlap in their motif and Thinkgeek's inventory, but I'm waiting to see if emo-nerd-goth-geek becomes the new thing .

      I still have a collection of bowling shirts that I wear to work that were originally bought at Hot Topic. I don't even want to think about how long ago it was that rockabilly bowling shirts were in with kids (I'm probably working with some of them now.)

  • Ah, memories... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LaurenCates ( 3410445 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @12:27PM (#49776027)

    I remember when I was in college over 15 years ago, I was a sometime-goth and would buy dresses from Hot Topic because it annoyed most of the student body (where I went, the population was mostly black, or white kids trying to act that way).

    I was at one point I was gossiped about, and was called a witch, Satan-worshiper, that sort of thing. Which was a rumor I loved so very much because it kept the Jesus freaks just far enough away that they didn't try to convert me.

    Even after I outgrew the whole goth thing, I started finding it disappointing that Hot Topic was turning more into Spencer's. Not that I think being "goth" is any less eye-roll-worthy (I was as pretentious a kid as anyone, and I'll gladly take shit for it) as "stoner", "hipster", "preppie", "geek chic" or whatever, though it's disappointing to see that kind of outlet for kids who want to do that sort of thing devolve and go away.

    Of course, I went through a "Think Geek" phase as well, which is more or less the same thing: "Look at the nerdy toy/t-shirt I bought from Think Geek! I am SO a nerd!" Nowadays, I roll my eyes at the two-years-post-college-age kids I know because they're trying just as hard as I did back then to make damn sure the world sees them that way.

    I wouldn't interrupt it for anything, because it wouldn't do me or them any good anyway. I simply tell them that I'm going to be archiving their posts from Facebook and showing the feed to them ten years from now, because it's going to be fun watching them realize how right I was when I kept referring to them as "kids".

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      Nice try. There are no girls on the internet. I believe the colloquialism is TRAP.

      • by LaurenCates ( 3410445 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @01:55PM (#49776701)

        I'm not sure which feminist talking point to espouse to combat your lack of belief in my chromosomal configuration. Maybe that Slashdot isn't a safe space for women? Maybe an old boys club mentality that keeps women out?

        Would it please the court if I just took the easy way out and called you a shitlord? /sorry if my sarcasm isn't evident

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          I chuckled. Yes, I really did. I do believe, obviously, that you are aware of the meme and that you took it as the sarcasm that it is. Good show with your reply too. We really need a sarcasm markup.

    • by asylumx ( 881307 )
      I love this comment -- you summed up how I feel about some of my younger friends and acquaintances. I'm sure I'll say the same thing about them when I'm nearing 40 and they are entering their 30s -- there will be something new that they are doing that I did too, but didn't realize until later. Life is interesting, isn't it?

      As for Hot Topic gobbling up ThinkGeek -- ThinkGeek has become very much a hipster thing IMO anyway, I'm kind of past my phase for it. Most of what they offer now is branded/themed
  • Sweet! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @12:33PM (#49776075) Homepage

    Now all Think Geek merch will be Emo and the packaging will cut it's self open!

  • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @01:38PM (#49776609)

    Isn't Hot Topic the store in the mall where all the teens go to buy stuff that makes them unique, just like all the other teens?

    • Isn't Hot Topic the store in the mall where all the teens go to buy stuff that makes them unique, just like all the other teens?

      It's the place where teens go to buy stuff in an attempt to make them not their parents, but they are doomed to failure.

  • Anyone remember the Internet video meme "Hot Topic Is Not Punk Rock"?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    "Hot Topic is a contrived identification with geek subcultures to manufacture a free software identity and make millions.

    The 8 dollars you paid for the World of Warcraft poster would be better used to help the EFF.
    DIY 3D printing is geek, developing your own app is geek, Dennis Ritchie was geek.

    But when a crass corporate vulture feeds on mass-consumer culture, then spending Mommy's money Is Not Geek!"

    • by neminem ( 561346 )

      I didn't know it was ever an 'internet video meme', but it is definitely an excellent song. Yay MC Lars! Though not all of his stuff is that great, he *has* made a bunch of stuff that is great, and that is definitely one of them.

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