The Ultimate Boondoggle?What Happened to Ultimate Electronics?
Ultimately, too big for its britches
Like most familiar names in CE retail, Ultimate's beginnings were humble. In 1968, husband and wife Bill and Barb Pearse opened their first small store, called Team Electronics, in the Denver suburb of Arvada. For the next 25 years, they judiciously opened other locations, now known as SoundTrack, throughout Colorado, but the business remained modest, and employed a personal, hands-on sales approach.
In October 1993, with the economy on the cusp of a remarkable boom, Pearse changed the name of his nine-store company to Ultimate Electronics Inc., and went public; another IPO followed two years later. Although Circuit City and Best Buy would become ever-larger competitors, Ultimate held its own at first, logging huge sales gains and plowing them back into growing the company. Emboldened, Ultimate built a new headquarters and expanded beyond its home state; stores in Colorado remained SoundTrack, while stores elsewhere were called Ultimate Electronics. In 1997, Ultimate acquired the Audio King chain, which had 11 stores in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota; their names eventually were changed to Ultimate Electronics. The bulk of the expansion, however, came with brand-new stores in Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.