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Burb's Eye View: Electronic City is turning off its lights

November 20, 2013|By Bryan Mahoney

Electronic City is hidden in plain sight on Burbank Boulevard. People drive by it a lot, never thinking to go in, until one day that one unique light bulb blows on the flashlight and nobody carries a replacement.

Howard Pollyea probably stocks it. Since 1957, when he and his father opened Electronic City, he's provided thousands, if not millions, of spare parts to fix the tube on the television, then later the transistors and stereo equipment, and most recently the security camera systems.

You may remember Electronic City as a kid, going there for radio parts to complete a science project. It helped local businesses save money by supplying replacement parts for their electronic equipment — an analog business for an analog age.

Then the world went digital, and Hollywood went worldwide. The movie crews and post-production houses that were the bulk of Pollyea's business started shooting elsewhere, hiring local non-union crews to work the sets. Electronic City reinvented itself many times to keep up, but eventually Pollyea decided it was time to retire.

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"I'll be 75 soon, and it's just time," Pollyea said. "Life has to go on. Everybody hugs you and they have such fond remembrances … (I'm appreciative) for the people who have been so loyal to us."

Pollyea opened the shop with his father on April 13, 1957. Friday the 13th, he says laughing.

He remembers spending hours with people explaining how things worked. This was a shop for the tinkerer and inventor — practical effects artists and sound engineers were some of his biggest clients.

On Friday, one of the shop regulars passed the giant closing signs that are hanging outside the building. Employee Linda Hammel gingerly delivered the news.

"Oh, that's terrible," said Steven Quick of Burbank. He stopped smiling for the first time since entering the store.

Quick has visited Electronic City over 25 years to fix post-production equipment at studios nearby. He counted on Pollyea and his staff for his parts supply.

"I can't order a part online and wait three days," he said. "And I can't stock all this stuff," then motioning around the store, "I'd need a room this size."

Electronic City was near another Burbank Boulevard landmark — Barron's restaurant, where "we celebrated together, laughed, cried, supported and cared for each other just as small businesses in neighborhoods have done for so many years," said Connie (Barron) Trimble.

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