Controversy has followed Park's on the internet since for at least the 20 years when I first got into astronomy forums. A lot of the controversy has been about high prices listed on the website. Also by people afflicted with neomania--"if it"s new, it must be great," and the corollary, "if it's old, it must be [insert term not allowed on CN by the Terms of Service] regarding their large Newtonian scopes and mounts.
We moved to our current house almost 20 years ago. At that time the San DIego Scope City store was about 5 blocks from the house. They had a lot of stuff, old school, that never seemed to sell. When I asked about a laser collimator, I was told, "We don't believe in Lasers." After a couple of encounters with that attitude, I never bothered going there again. OPT was only 30 miles away and they seemed to carry the modern equipment. I can tell you I was not alone in this.
It was no surprise when Scope City went out of business. A business needs to serve it's customers and no matter how much one believes in the old GEM mounted Newtonians and overpriced 60mm and 80mm achromats, the market had changed and Scope City seemed to have missed the boat.
I did not have negative experiences at the Parks Sherman Oaks Store. I'm not saying others didn't!
Regarding some posts above about what killed off Gem Newtonians, I think we have to add suburban sprawl, increasing light pollution and the need for something portable you could pack in a vehicle and drive to a dark sight.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Two 12.5 inch Newtonans. One I've owned for nearly 20 years. That scope has traveled all over the southwest and has seen many nights from my urban backyard. The other scope, it saw the night sky a few times a year, it never made farther than the driveway n the 10 or so years I owned it..
You get 50 bonus points if you can guess which is which..
As far as what killed off the Equatorially mounted Newtonian.. My thinking: in the larger apertures, they were never very popular. It's not so much that they were killed off, rather the Dob made apertures realistic and practical, GEM mounted Newtonians were overrun by the Dobs. Today, a 12 Dob is considered a beginners scope by some.
In the smaller apertures, up to 8 inches, I think GOTO, the SCT, the Dob as well as affordable refractors of reasonable aperture all contributed to their loss of popularity. Realistically, the ergonomics of a GEM mounted Newtonian are awkward and often uncomfortable, often one is fighting with the scope. The easy portability of the Dob with increasing light pollution was also a factor.
If you need a hint to get your 50 bonus points, this photo would have not been possible with one of the two. One of the scopes wouldn't have fit in the motor home.