As much fun as Best Buy is, if you really want to light up a kid's enthusiasm for electronics, take him to Fry's Electronics. Not only is it enormous and loaded with fun gadgets to play with, but it also has lots of test equipment, components and of course motherboards, CPUs, DRAM, hard drives, PC cases, etc.
I fondly recall a trip to Fry's with my son when he was around 10. My old PC was overdue for replacement and I asked him if he would like to help me build a new computer and come with me to Fry's to buy all the parts. It was a big thrill for him, and he asked lots of questions and paid careful attention as we put it all together.
He has been building PCs for himself, his friends and also for me, since he was about 12.
Hi! This is great to hear. I am the author of Spicy Schematics (http://ischematics.com), the first and [only] app on iPad that offers real spice simulation ... this is a great story and one of the reasons I wrote the program! The ipad is a great platform, and I think designing circuits should and can be easy and intuitive ... combining spice with a touch-based GUI seemed only natural to me, but it was surprising that noone had done it yet! .. well it has been a year now, and we are thousands of users strong, and the program has grown quite a bit ... there are many advanced features now including one-click sharing, import/export, and more ... in addition, we now have an iphone spice utility that allows you to simulate netlists! (http://ischematics.com/iphone.html)
Great to hear and thank you for the post!
I know it isn't the place it used to be, but RadioShack is still a good place. Many of them sell Vex robots and they're starting to sell Arduino's. They still have a smattering of components and, though not the breadth and depth of BestBuy, a good selection of consumer electronics.
The only downside to RadioShack is that sometimes browsing seems a little awkward. My local store isn't well trafficked and the sales people tend to watch like lonely hawks, hoping I'll buy something and not just look.