The Story of Soft Whorehouse

A Facebook friend posted a comment about his local Tiger Direct store becoming CompUSA. That prompted me to post the following reminiscence as a comment.

So, around 1986, I'm working at this semiconductor company in far North Dallas. The area was really just one big industrial park. In the same area was this hole-in-the-wall computer place called "Soft Warehouse".

This was in the day of beige-box PCs, where you typically either bought from IBM or built from parts. The Belt Line Road area of Dallas was full of cheap storefront computer places. They'd build and sell their own lines of computers, along with parts for do-it-yourselfers. Soft Warehouse was a store in our neighborhood/industrial park, walking distance from the plant, that primarily sold software and components -- at the cheapest prices around.

Purchasing departments loved them, because they were corp account friendly, and you could buy your Hayes modem there and it would be $3 cheaper than any other place in town. The service was so horrible, however, that we'd have to spend 45 minutes at the will call window to get our parts. Somehow purchasing departments thought that was a good trade-off. But we hated them. We'd call them "Soft Whorehouse."

The formula of crappy service with a huge inventory at a great price was a win for them. Their business boomed, along with the entire PC business. Eventually they moved out of the industrial park to a big box storefront, and rebranded themselves CompUSA.

But they'll still always be "Soft Whorehouse" to me.