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Best Buy closing Newbury Street, Wareham stores

Locations among 50 the company will shut this year

At the Best Buy on Newbury Street in Boston, staff turned away customers and gave them coupons to use at nearby locations.

Jonathan Wiggs/globe staff

At the Best Buy on Newbury Street in Boston, staff turned away customers and gave them coupons to use at nearby locations.

Best Buy is closing is its store on Newbury Street in Boston and one in Wareham, the electronics chain announced Saturday.

The stores at 360 Newbury St. and on Cranberry Highway in Wareham are among 50 that Best Buy plans to close this year as part of a “transformation strategy,’’ the company said in a release.

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Both Massachusetts stores slated for closure were closed Saturday, but will reopen Sunday for final sales. The stores will close permanently May 12.

“This was not an easy decision to make,’’ Best Buy officials said in a written statement. “We chose these stores carefully, and are working to ensure the impact to our employees will be as minimal as possible. . . . but we also recognize the impact this news has on the people who deserve respect for the contributions they have made to our business.’’

Best Buy said employees at both stores were notified Saturday morning about the closings, and that the company would offer employees a job at another location or “a transition including severance packages.’’

At the Newbury Street Best Buy on Saturday afternoon, two employees stood outside the doors, turning away dozens of would-be customers and handing out coupons good for $10 off at nearby Best Buy locations.

“It is what it is,’’ said one of the employees, who confirmed that the staff only found out about the closure Saturday morning, but declined further comment.

Some shoppers thought Best Buy picked a bad day to close, given the high foot traffic on marathon weekend in Boston.

“It’s a beautiful Saturday,’’ said Aditya Naik, 26, who wanted to buy a case for his iPad. “It’s a prime day for shopping, so it’s a real loss for them. I’m disappointed, but I’ll find another store.’’

A group of Berklee College of Music students standing nearby said the closure would be difficult, since they often used the store’s small music section to pick up a pack of guitar strings or pair of drumsticks. One nearby music retailer, Daddy’s Junky Music, recently closed; another, Jack’s Drum Shop, moved to Cape Cod, leaving the Guitar Center in Fenway, a 15-minute walk, as the only full-service music store near Berklee.

“A lot of the stuff we do is electronic,’’ said 20-year-old Berklee student Moez Dawad, describing how students record and compose music on computers. “Best Buy was cool for last-minute stuff - an adapter or a cord or whatever.’’

Dawad said the closing was also a loss for students who performed at weekly live music showcases in the store.

The store space, in a prominent and architecturally significant building at the intersection with Massachusetts Avenue, has had several retailers come and go over the past decade. Defunct compact disc chain Tower Records occupied the space until 2002, when a Virgin Megastore took over the space. The Virgin Megastore closed in 2006, giving way to Best Buy.

“I think it’s a shame,’’ said Meg Mainzer-Cohen, president of the retailer group Back Bay Association. “They really fit in the neighborhood. But not all brands work in all locations.’’

Mainzer-Cohen was quick to say that the closure was not a reflection of any downturn in the Back Bay, even though it comes soon after the closure of nearby big-box book retailer Borders on Boylston Street.

“When companies are going through turbulence, I don’t think it necessarily reflects on the retail strength of the neighborhood,’’ she said. She said that overall, sales from association retailers have climbed each year since 2008.

Mainzer-Cohen said she is hopeful the storefront will be filled quickly, but cautioned that the space, which spans three floors, may be too large for many potential tenants. She cited the former Borders retail space, which is being divided into smaller parcels, as a possible model for Best Buy’s soon-to-be-vacant digs.

Even if a large retail tenant is found quickly, the permit and remodeling process means the storefront will almost certainly be empty for six months to a year, Mainzer-Cohen said.

For Best Buy, the closings come amid management turmoil. Last week, chief executive Brian Dunn resigned after coming under investigation by the company’s board for personal conduct issues.

The retailer has outlived onetime rivals like Circuit City, but is struggling to compete with online retailers like

The company also said it plans to build more of its smaller Best Buy Mobile stores, standalone locations that offer cellular phones, plans, and accessories.

Dan Adams can be reached at and on Twitter at @DanielAdams86.
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