Sonoma County has a serious shortage of places to buy technology. It was a little upsetting when CompUSA announced it was closing, since it had a better inventory of network equipment than anywhere else nearby for those days when things have to be bought on short notice. It’s gone now. No more dealing with the obnoxious clerk that tried too hard to sell extended warranties.

When I needed a USB hub on Friday, I went into Best Buy for the first time in more than a year.

Something strange had happened.

The store was neat and well organized.

It had a reasonably wide selection of computer and technology products, and inventory was well-stocked.

It had a far better selection of software than CompUSA had carried for the last couple of years and surprisingly good selections of routers, wireless equipment, printers, and accessories. Everything was lined up on the shelves with an ample supply of each item.

It was like a different store. For years, our local Best Buy was a complete mess, in a very literal way – the shelves were disordered, inventory was unpredictable, opened packages were stuck back on the shelves with scotch tape holding them together. There was no sign of any of that this week. Did a new manager take control locally? Has the whole chain gotten some focus?

Prices were too high but that didn’t surprise me – that’s why I buy at Buy.com normally. There are lots of complaints online about Best Buy so this could all be cosmetic improvements for a chain that is still a pain to deal with. But cosmetics matter and I’ll be happy with reasonably good odds of finding something I need.

In the past, our local Best Buy engaged in the practice of ringing up higher prices at the register than the ones posted on the shelves. It happened to me several times and I read anecdotes suggesting it happened often at Best Buy stores. It will be interesting to see if that happens again. Best Buy has horrible return policies too but those are common these days at most stores.

Maybe it was an aberration but I’m going to hope for the best.