Use Code BALT69 for a $69 Ticket to One Day University on July 9

Richard Schulze

Hhgregg's risky bet hinges on economic recovery

A year and a half ago, as markets hit new lows and the American spending machine temporarily shut down, hggregg went on a buying binge.

The Great Recession had left manufacturers with far more big-screen TVs and washing machines than they could sell. The Indianapolis-based electronics chain was happy to buy the surplus. The low prices it paid enabled it to boost profit margins even near the bottom of a severe economic slump.

Now the company is trying the same idea with stores. It's locking up retail space at doorbuster prices, including former Circuit City stores in metro Baltimore, in the hope that consumer spending will come back. It's opening dozens of stores from...