Speak your mind and help RadioShack suck less


We can all agree that RadioShack isn’t exactly the DIY mecca it once was.

What used to be a haven for amateur radio operators, tinkerers, and builders alike has devolved into a stripmall mainstay full of cell phones and overpriced junk. RadioShack knows that they have fallen out of your good graces, and since you are the demographic that put them on the map, they are appealing to the DIY community for input.

They want to know what is important to you – what you would like to see at your local RadioShack, and what would bring you back through their doors. Obviously price is a huge concern, especially with online outlets like Digikey and Mouser just a few clicks away. At the end of the day however, if you require a component RIGHT NOW, it would be nice to have the ability to grab some parts locally.

We’re well aware of the fact that this is all part of a marketing scheme, but if it helps stock your local store with a few odds and ends that are actually helpful, it won’t hurt to let your voice be heard.

Stick around to watch the video appeal from RadioShack’s brand manager, [Amy Shineman].

[Thanks komradebob]

[via ARRL.org]

351 thoughts on “Speak your mind and help RadioShack suck less

  1. I’d like to see them stock components useful for trending types of builds. To be able to drive a few blocks into town and buy what I need to get started on an intro servo walker or microcontroller type kit and start a project on a whim would be great.

    They can’t make a profit celling phones or dvd players now, so they need a new market to study and bring a service to.

  2. Whats RadioShack? Is that were they sell radios? Just kidding but yea, last time i was at a RadioShack was probably 7 years ago and that’s because i needed some battery’s :( Everything is overpriced just like Fry’s but at least Fry’s is 1m drive from my house.

  3. ^ Same here Moo, the last time I was at RS was probably about the same, 7 yrs ago, a friends TV died in a lightning storm – popped a diode, cap and a 12v zener diode – I had the cap, and diode that would work, but no 12v zener – RS actually had them (I was surprised) for $1.49 for two (that, yes, I could have gotten far cheaper online, but would have taken days and dealing with online “minimum orders”). There are times when a little extra $ for a part you need “now” is appropriate.

  4. It makes me sad to see how far RS has fallen.

    20 years or so ago, when I was a kid just getting into electronics, I was a frequent customer at my local RS. I bought my first soldering iron there, my first 200-in-one kit, dev boards and parts and Forrest Mims books. I even saved up & bought my first multimeter & graphing calculator there (Casio FTW, before TI took over the market!)

    The manager was a friendly neckbeard type who was always happy to see me come in with my dad. I think he was just excited to see a teenager interested in electronics. When the headphone jack wore out on my RS Walkman, I ordered the replacement part (back when all the manuals had schematics!) – he gave it to me ‘on the house’ when it came in. It probably only cost a buck or two, but it meant a lot to me. (I soldered it in & still use the Walkman today to dub old tapes to digital!)

    In the late 90s my dad started working as an assistant manager at several RS stores, right around the time they started moving hard towards consumer goods. He was a low-pressure guy and hated the push to upsell (the “spiffs”, as they were called). He loved gadgets (and bought dozens on clearance and as Christmas gifts!), but didn’t know much about parts; still, he loved helping people find what they wanted, and I suspect you all would have liked doing business with him.

    Dad left RS in 2004; I think he really didn’t care for the sales tactics anymore. By then, cell phones had replaced the multimeters in the display cases and the parts section had shrunk to a set of drawers. I haven’t bought anything there since. My local RS closed its doors a couple of years later & I suspect many more will follow soon.

  5. So as a former radioshack employee Ive offered to give them my feedback they just need to give a proper avenue to communicate. 60 % of it is inner store policy and expectations on their staff that need to be changed. Then some initiatives to promote hacking at work,
    When I was allowed to do what I wanted at work I was the top performer in my region. I didnt sell more then 2 or 3 phones in a good month. But I had a large customer base that came in regularly something I stressed, radioshack did not. You dont gain repeat customers when your ‘Associate’ is hounding them about batteries, long distance changes (old school) and using every sales tactic in the book to get you to ‘open up’ about your cell phone. The battery thing was useful when we CHOSE to offer it to our customers genuinely not wanting them to forget and wanting to serve them better. The battery line TSA (secret shoppers that dont bother to report what employee did a bad job) don’t help you because they dont identify the person in question they promote a bad work environment to be honest and caused issues at my last store.
    Back in the day it was sort of a joke that you had to greet people. We didnt frivolously reset the entire store because some marketing guru wanted to look like he was working hard, the lay out was good the first time because it was thought out. The people came to us to chat , we didnt have to approach them if the customer kept their distance we pulled out the big guns the toys, back then we were allowed, no , encouraged to play.
    I laugh when I think back to the VP visiting my store. It was a huge deal a big corporate visit every one was freaking out, I didnt care I walked right up to the VP engaged him and sold him some product out of a store he had visited 500 of in the previous weeks and not solved the problem he didnt know he had it wasnt the product on the shelf that was bad I can still solve a problem there as it stands, the problem is the expectations on your employees leading you to be staffed with people who should be at a kiosk.
    product has something to do with it but to be the powerhouse your trying to be you must have the people working for you , that could answer the stock questions inhouse, like they used to be. That doesnt go to say asking the community doesnt help but if your not paying us there will be no one to answer questions on the stuff you sell.

    Any way I hope they give me a way to actually talk to them about the stuff that cripples them.

  6. I totally agree with the post which recommended stocking products from Adafruit, Sparkfun, Maker Shed, Seeed Studios, Parallax, etc. Stock lots of Arduino shields!

    Also, If I could buy all the parts (ALL!) to make any of the reprap designes (http://blog.reprap.org/), I’d be in and out of there all day long! I wouldn’t even mind paying extra just for having them all in 1 place.

    Ditto, Lego Mindstorms and I’d love to see more of that old LabView stuff before it got all commercialized. No need for the fancy stuff – just a digital oscilloscope or two and a few voltmeters, counters, timers and RLC measuring devices that connect directly to my Macintosh (or pc or linux box) together with free software (charge for the device – give the software away).

    Maybe even a PLC or two – you know, to talk to the house! Make some software to use iPads as home video intercom/surveillance/heating-cooling-control and sell those, too, along with the gizmos that’ll talk to’em! I want my house to be able to talk via xbee or bluetooth or via a webpage!

    Sell computer controlled coffee makers and desktop USB missile systems – have an in-store demo for kids. (Oooo — what could possibly go wrong? Well, maybe not that, then).

    Also, I am a ham operator and it’d sure be nice to be able to buy coax (RG-213, RG-8, LMR-400) and connectors and strippers and crimpers and crimp-on BNC, PL-259, N n’stuff at a local Radio Shack store.

    And some decent soldering supplies!


  7. I also used to work at Radio Shack. Do you know the *ONE THING* that I absolutely despised about that job, and still talk about to this day? Their “Dollar Per Hour” mandate.

    For those who don’t know, they used to (do they still?) have a policy that employees HAD TO SELL x-number of dollars-per-hour of merchandise in order to keep their jobs!

    Is it any wonder they try to shove the gold-plated crap and cell plans down customer’s throats? They want to preserve their jobs!

    If RS can eliminate that mandate, allowing the employees that ENJOY tinkering, to specialize in helping customers with their tinkering projects, that should be encouraged! When I worked there, my boss called me the “Parts Guy”. Any customer who was into D.I.Y. was promptly sent my way, and I enjoyed that! However, I always had that dreaded “D.P.H.” looming over my head! You can’t reach it with $9 and $10 sales of parts.

    Eliminating that “D.P.H.” mandate will certainly make it more COMFORTABLE for hobbyist/tinkerer/DIY types to SEEK employment at “The Candy Store”, rather than run from it!

    That’s my 5c worth.

  8. I recommend taking a hard look at what is developing in the hackerspace market. True DIY today is way more than discrete electronic components. Today DIYers want 3D printing capabilities, laser cutting services, surface mount capabilities, multilayer PCB fabrication, to robotics parts and kits. How about something like a Bioloid Premium robot kit for a few hundred dollars rather than the thousand plus it costs to get now online. Take a hard look at what DIYers are doing today, the market is huge, much bigger with more consumers spending way more than in the old days of HAM radio.

  9. Grew up looking at the catalog as my ‘wish book’. Last time I went looking for a panel mount switch, found 1 option. Also too expensive. Very disappointing to see the 100-in-1 (or similar project kits) fall into less and less complex arrangements. (Essentially dumbed down.) This is how I taught myself basic electronics. Drew me to explore theory and circuit design.

    It’s hard to be a repair first, toss never person… when much of what is churned out is glued together, never meant to be disassembled, designed to break after a year or 2.

    I had a similar experience of discovering sales person ineptitude… and followed closely by an attempt at getting hired as a young adult. They didn’t (don’t?) want knowledgable DIY staff. I aced the test, but no joy. Sad really, and the beginning of the end for me. I have hardly stepped foot in one. And the last 3 times I have been there were disappointing… leading me to go elsewhere.

  10. offer DIY workshops. Home depot, lowes and even some organic grocery stores offer day / workshop on how to do diff stuff with tools and supplies your can find in store.

  11. I’m with weaver on this one – here in the UK we have MAPLIN (.co.uk) stores and they seem to be able to pull off stocking a wide range of components in all of their hight street outlets (more opening all the time) so it can be done. Of course they are more pricey than online – but you can walk in and get it there and then. Last week I needed a 12v DPDT mains relay and was able to just get it right away.

  12. I would like to see some microcontrollers and programming accessories (something cheaper than the Basic Stamp kit). More advanced serial bus components such as GPS, A2D would make integration easier.

    Being able to integrate this stuff with things like phones would be pretty cool.

    Some board layout software that links into preferred manufacturers could bring RS referral money. A project store would be cool too where I could buy or sell projects.

  13. The last time I was in my local Cellular Shack, I needed a balun to connect my 75-ohm TV coax to the apartment’s old 300-ohm antenna line. This is not an exotic part. I knew the sales associate, who greeted me at the door, wouldn’t know what I was talking about if I asked for a “balun”, so I asked for an “adapter” that went from 300-ohm twin-lead to 75-ohm coax. It took 10 minutes of rummaging about the tiny parts section of the store before we found it.

    Turns out they call ’em “matching transformers.”

    Radio Shack, if you want to keep me from going to Electronics Warehouse, hire people who know which end of the soldering iron to hold.


  14. Look, if they’re trying to be genuine, there’s absolutely no way they can compete with price of Mouser, etc on the net, and there’s also no way they can compete with the vast components shelf space at Fry’s for quickie local buys.

    What they *could* compete on though, is prepping geek kids. Get back to selling lots of stuff parents can be children to get them interested in electronics, radio, and other engineering topics. Those old-school 200-in-1 electronics kits with the spring clips (the modern versions kinda suck). Those heath robotics kits. The Forest Mims books + a basic selection of components necc to follow the books. Practical, fun, DIY kits for things like shortwave emergency radios, police scanners, USB gadgets (hey you can even get into driver software with that).. Stuff in that sort of vein.

    With their suburban mall retail space and the memories of how they used to be, they could really dominate in that part of the market if they had the balls.

  15. Wow ! This one is easy: Realign your store locations to focus just on areas where they have neither Fry’s Electronics stores… nor broadband internet coverage. The fire Amy:

    “Hola – I’m Jasmine… Ya-know… I don’t make like… things, but i totally can imugine how it feels when you like… make things and stuff… it’s totally betchin and stuff…”

    And hire the entire female former cast of TechTV.

  16. RADIO SHACK… the name most likely came from the original ‘ham radion shack’, a cute, colloquial name for where the nerd went to do his stuff back in the ‘golden days’.
    This is what they lost.
    So many people have pointed out that the missing ingrediant is the ‘community’ spirit that was alibve in the hobbyist community back in the 60s & 70s.
    Anyone can BUY a product, very few can BUILD a project with their own two hands, and understand how & why it works.

  17. Here in Australia, Dick Smith (a store that, like Radio Shack, used to sell electronic components but these days mostly sells computers, TVs, DVDs, iPods/iPod docks and all sorts of gizmos) used to sell (and may still sell, I am not sure) a series of books and kits called Funway into Electronics.

    The first volume and first kits came with a blue plastic board with holes and a bunch of components. You screw the components into the board (so you may have the leg of one component and the leg of another component screwed into one hole) and make fun projects. Then you unscrew it all and screw it in a different configuration and make something else.

    The kits for the second and third volume came with actual PCBs that you assembled and soldered together.

    Kits such as these would be something Radio Shack (who probably sold similar things in the past before they decided to copy the Worst Buy business model and start ramming overpriced cellphones and accessories down the throat of the guy who just wanted to buy a new battery for his TV remote) could do well. Sell a bunch of simple-to-assemble kits (some of which could be no-solder kits for beginners/kids who cant safely use a soldering iron yet) that do really cool things when put together. Combine these kits with cheap microcontrolers like AVR and PIC for even more cool stuff. Robots and robotics would probably be very cool, even to today’s kids so start selling kits in that area. Something like a “build your own robot arm” project would be GREAT, especially if it came with a fully programmable microcontroler inside controlling how it moves.

    Related to this they could also sell a “starter set” for those getting into electronics that could have a good beginners soldering iron, solder, wire cutters/strippers and other basic tools.

    As for Forrest M Mims III, I remember that guy, I used to own one of his books once, the one about all kinds of basic integrated circuits with the hand-drawn diagrams making it look just like an engineers notebook.

  18. Sigh.
    Dick Smith and Tandy (RS here in Australia) were both bought by Woolworths Ltd several years ago. (That;s why you saw a cross-pollination of products over the years).
    Retail zombification of the clueless consumer.
    Let them buy a clock-radio from a specialist store, anf they feel better than if they purchased it from a supermarket.
    Same stock, higher margin = higher profit = shareholder value.

  19. I’m kind of jealous to see that you have stores that sell parts in the U.S. It may be crappy now, but it sells actual parts. In France, there are a few stores for the whole country. And even in online stores, you cannot have decent parts at decent prices, shipping is like $10 for a few resistors and you have them in 7+ days.
    So, if I had a RS store in France, I would really enjoy seeing Arduino kits with, say, a LCD screen and an ethernet shield, a few selected parts to avoid stock problems and competent people to teach us because schools here do not teach technical stuff AT ALL before you are 17. Organizing workbenches to sell parts would generate crazy sales over here.

  20. You know, I’ve stepped into RadioShack recently quite a few times, and the sales staff didn’t try to sell me phones or anything. Quite the contrary – I found them so disinterested in everything I was doing and glued to the TV while a basketball game or football game was playing, that I actually found it a pleasure to rummage through the component drawers. And I’m not even being sarcastic — I actually ENJOY not being asked “can I help you?” every 5 seconds, while looking at me sideways like I’m going to steal something.

    I sincerely say this without any sarcasm whatsoever: as long as you don’t *expect* to be helped in the store on your problems, and come in armed with the knowledge of what you are looking for, RadioShack is actually doing us a service by hiring people at *such* low wages that they would rather watch a football game than bother a customer. I prefer “leave me alone” versus “I don’t know how to help you, but here’s a shiny cell phone.”

  21. I agree with what others have said about community. The fact that there was no Radio Shack booth at the Maker Faire in San Mateo this weekend (the very *heart* of geekdom!) speaks volumes about the relationship between Radio Shack and the DIY community.

    As a youth, I went into radio shack all the time. But there’s just no reason to. I guess if I had to pick three things it’d be …

    1. Arduino boards and accessories
    2. … uh…
    3. … hmm…

    I honestly can’t think of a 2 or 3. Sorry

  22. There aren’t *three* things that they could add that would solve the problem. There aren’t even three *kinds* of things that would do it. They need a *wide* assortment of electronic components, or they may as well not bother.

    Ten values of capacitors, ten values of resistors, and a few diodes, transistors, and LEDs isn’t going to cut it.

    Their current component assortment seems to be about 1/100 of what it used to be. I know that they can’t devote hang tag space to that many components now (though somehow they did in the 1970s), so maybe they need more of the drawers they use now.

    The other problem is that the drawers they have tend to be badly organized and not well stocked, so it is hard to find the few components they do stock.

    Currently I only use Radio Shack as a last resort. For instance, I needed a CR2430 coin cell a few days ago, and was amazed that they did actually have it. But if I need resistors, capacitors, diodes, transistors, LEDs, or especially ICs, I don’t bother, because they won’t have the ones I need.

  23. Radio Shack could remake it’s reputation by stocking components regardless of the fact they may only sell say 100 over a year instead of it has to sell 100,000 to even be considered .

    We used to have radio shack shops over here in the UK but think they have all gone now my local branch was a good source of components at one time then the decline began and i had to find another source in general it seems the hobby electronics supply chain is up the creak without a paddle world wide so buck the trend is a sure fire winner

  24. Set up laser cutters and CNC mills at the back of the shops, and sell training & access. In a short time, it would become clear what additional raw materials and components they should stock.

    Plus, forward this to The Source up here in Canada, who are independent now, but continue along the same unpromising path. It’s been years since I’ve bought anything from the Shack/Source. Even then it was only to deal with a battery emergency. They asked for a phone number, got a long stare.

    I kinda want The Source to FOAD as it stands, but if they installed cutters and mills, I might be unable to sustain hostility.

  25. I thought this was funny.

    Back in the day radioshack had the spring + cardboard electronics kits. Then walls and walls of components. To top it off , a guy behind the counter to not only explain, but find every one of them. 1/4 of the store was radios.

    Now a days , they have iPods and I pod docks . (literally) 1/4 of a store to ipods (none in stock though) with an assortment of 45 $ usb cables. And 6 $ memory cards with 13$ warranties. Dont forget the 1,000 $ 19 inch tvs. To top it off there are atleast 3 attempts in the visit to have a heart to heart about your cell phone.

  26. Dear RatShack:

    You want to compete with the power of the Internet? In your brick and mortar STORES?!?!?! Good luck with that: Electronics heads are (a) smart enough to look online, and (b) unwilling to pay 10000% markups on cheapo things unless they’re really, really desperate. I honestly don’t see you being able to get very much of my business through a storefront no matter what you’re doing, but if you have a website with great selection of electronics gear and great prices (including on shipping), then hey- why not?

  27. With markup on the few remaining parts they do carry so high they’d make a pawn broker blush, I’m not getting too excited by this newly found re-enthusiasm of the hobbyist market that Radio Shack seems to have stumbled into. I’m sure they are ready for the return of those heady days where eager young hobbyists stood waiting in line to spend the lions share of their measly weekly allowance of half watt carbon resistors marked up 20,000%.


  28. I’m going to throw in again and say that RS has no real infrastructure in place to support this obvious marketing ploy.

    How can you expect all these carefully groomed cell phone accessory salespeople to magically know something about DIY parts and tools overnight?

    -and yeah I was also highly successful and sought after at my store as well, because I was knowledgeable FIRST, and THEN tried to see if they wanted to buy “other” stuff.

    It’s surprising the kind of numbers you can pull down when the locals walk past the knuckleheads and right to you. Especially come school project time! They’d follow me and fill a bag and I’d sketch the circuit out for ’em at the counter to boot.

    Vitriol aside, the only thing I will miss about working at RS is the interaction with folks about their projects.
    “Whatcha buildin’? Anything cool? Anything diabolical?”
    That was usually enough to get the ball rolling.
    Once they realized I knew my stuff and am passionate all doors were opened.

    It is the kind of thing Radio Shack USED to be known for, but that is a value they don’t teach in “Business School” any more, if they ever did.

  29. I’m so old that the fifty-in-one electronics kit that I owned was housed in a real wood enclosure. This fact alone would be sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that at my current age there’s little to look forward to but a back back and a soft peter.


  30. Tandy never was go great over here in the UK anyway and Maplin is just a waste of time & money for the most part, I would love a decent parts store but the internet has seen a end to that.

  31. One thing Radio Shack did for me was calm my fears about the dangers of lead poisoning. The simple fact that I am still able to write what is a seemingly coherent statement, after a youthful basement hobbyist environment so thick with solder smoke it could be confused as an Amsterdam “coffee-shop” from a distance.

    I credit my immunity to lead poisoning to the early inoculation of radiation my government so graciously applied to e during my year of fetal development in 1957 when they were going all Operation Plumbbob out in the Nevada desert, blowing up nuclear bombs (above ground for even more spectacular) left and right and fetus TimTim was gobbling up fallout and using the accompanying radioactive isotopes to harden my DNA against further attacks. When I was sucking in all those solder fumes, my body was laughing and giving it the finger! Unless you were similarly ‘inoculated’ against future chemical and biological disaster/accident in a manner such as I was, I wouldn’t consider sucking in the solder smoke with as much abandon as I had.


  32. It’s been a while since they catered to DIYers. I remember going in there back in the early 90s when I was taking an electronics class in high!school and not finding components. Back then you could still at least order them from a catalog.

    I did walk into an RS a couple weeks ago and was so surprised to see a drawer of LEDs that I bought some of the insanely overpriced things for the nostalgia of just finding anything.

    If they could get back into trying to foster young minds like I remember from my 80s 30-in-1 kit back in elementary school I’d be cool with that.

    Maybe they can sell Capsella and Mindstorm to start nd bring back some kits.

  33. I think Radio Shack should carry
    1) arduino kits
    2) fpga kits like papilio platform etc.
    3) parallax propeller chips
    4) any other hobby and/or embedded computing kits that can get people excited again about electronics and manipulation of signals from the real world for controlling computers. this is the cutting edge of actual hobby electronics today…

  34. I think Radio Shack should become an electronics “wow cool” wizard store. No one in the Brick and Mortar world fills this niche. Most stores that stock electronics stop at analog- and most computer shops stop at PC clone hardware. Where is the embedded, hobby MCU, and gadget inventor to get his/her parts? Neighborhood impulse buys can lead to successful product design…

  35. What Radio Shack should be is Maker Shack. A place for people to get together to build and learn how to build.

    Less crap electronics, more kits, and more connections to local groups that make and build. Help us order things. Help us build things. Be the focus of a network of builders.

    Have demos of arduino. Show hacks of kinect. Bring us the cool stuff we can do, and don’t try to compete with online retailers of commodity electronics.

  36. I concur that they should bring back the diy sections, like their Science Fair line, I still have a few of those cardboard kits with the springs and components. Of course if they brought it back, they would do something stupid to try and make it more appealing to kids through the eyes of a 45 year old PR head, thus instead of “Science Fair” it would be something stupid like “Extreme-tronics” where they package all the components into random shapes and give them weird names that have nothing to do with the actual components, building a circuit would be more like a jigsaw puzzle than an actual scientific learning experience.

    I only worked there for 3 months before I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I can’t in any good conscience tell someone that a $60 Monster cable between their $15 DVD player and $40 TV from Walmart is going to give them a better picture. I got threatend with termination my second week there because I was supposed to offer an optical audio cable with a stereo receiver I sold which didn’t have any optical ports and I didn’t sell them a cable they would’ve returned anyway.

    I also kept getting crap from my manager who wanted me to sell the old 32″ RCA CRT that’s been sitting on the shelf turned on for 5+ years which they still wanted twice for it than what you could get for an LCD at Best Buy.

    One thing I still get a kick out of is the PIC “Board of education” complete with it’s inch thick book and RS-232 cable that they still want 100 bucks for.

  37. in the UK, Tandy (who owned RadioShack) operated these places as ‘Tandy stores’. They are all now closed, because they were crap, for all the reasons people have mentioned. Unless they really pull something new out of the bag, RadioShack is surely doomed. @DrF is right about Maplin in the UK, which is far better than Tandy was, and has more knowledgeable sfatt, but simply can’t compete with the internet for prices and choice. Actual shops need to compete with things that internet can’t, which is the friendly help from knowledgable staff, free how-to classes, workshops, community stuff etc. I agree with all the suggestions about helping beginners with education and kits. Look at bookstores and art galleries, they always have events where people can go to meet authors/experts etc.

  38. Well, THIS is a surprise! While I’m very skeptical about any business these days, nothing would please me more than to see see RS and (by extension) the rest of us do well.

    The tech culture in the US has certainly “dumbed down” over the past couple of decades and my trips to Radio Shack stores have become fewer and fewer, mostly due to the frustration of having each visit be worse than the previous one. I have to say, that my most recent visits has been better. I lament the loss of the ‘parts section’ and am mystified at why scarce shelf space is dedicated to commodity items (basic routers and ipods) that I can get at Best Buy or Walmart. OK, enough bitching. I’ll bite. There are a lot of good ideas that precede mine so… Here goes.

    Carry the most needed things that are expected by customers (connectors, audio adapters and cables, batteries, basic components) and then sell ‘better’ or unusual geeky things. RF connectors and adapters, external WIFI antennas and better quality cabling, VOIP phones that aren’t just for Skype, TV cameras and video loggers, scanners, short wave radios, maybe the CC radio, kits for featured projects, some robotic stuff in appropriate stores, real tools like Cat 5 crimpers and weller soldering irons, Weird X-10 stuff, WIFI internet radios, anything cool from Japan or China that is funky and fun and not commonly available here (hint: have a new item in each promotion and see what takes hold), sell a little weird surplus stuff once in a while, help out clubs, schools and individuals and help establish a community, perhaps online and in person at the stores. Sponsor a local maker fair sort of thing, create science fair project building blocks, Give local managers more leeway in product selection. In places that have them, feature things like Wireless ISP’s. Take note of new disruptive technologies like VOIP and Asterisk that are completely changing business communications. Have prepackaged solutions for businesses like small phone systems and plug and play VPN’s. Don’t get sucked into carrying Belkin cables ONLY (like so many places do). I just stopped going to Best Buy (forever) after they tried to charge me $26.00 for a SATA drive cable (the ones that come free with drives or mother boards). Maybe support gamers and PC builders?
    Just some VERY random ideas here…

    Yesterday, I had a conversation with an older gentleman who was hard of hearing and wanted to be able to have his wife page him over a backyard PA system, to get him to come to the phone. He told me of going to Best Buy and trying to explain to the 20 year old kid what he wanted, without success of course. I though to myself “Where could I send this guy?”. There was a time that RS would have a solution. I hope to see it again someday. Thanks for asking!

  39. I suggest you pay a visit to Tainan city in Taiwan. The electronics shops there (and there are plenty of them) are teeming with customers, packed with stuff and staffed by knowledgeable people.

    Because of the number of customers – who mostly know what they are looking-for – the staff don’t waste their time, or yours, trying to sell alternative/accessory crap. In one store – dare I say my favourite – I bought an oscilloscope (500$US) and a couple of transistors (a dollar between them) in one sale but on my next visit the staff were just as happy to sell me only a couple of resistors.

    It was worthwhile for me to travel a hundred-miles to Tainan to visit those stores.

    Do you remember the Tandy range of ‘stuff’?


    Seriously who over the age of 17, and is male, actually goes to the mall if they can help it?

    3. Here is a crazy thought, stay with me now……..wait for it….wait for it….actually stock electronic parts as in at least 50% of the store’s inventory.

    I gave up a long time ago even thinking you might have something I wanted in stock online or in the stores. Crap computers/remote control cars/cell phones are all I can remember about the Radio Shack brand anymore.

    I could care less if you guys pull out of the economic death spiral you guys are in.

  41. 1) Kits
    2) Kits
    3) Kits

    In that order.

    I’m not talking about trivial things. I’m talking about things like Heathkit used to carry. Sure, it’s probably not economical to build a radio rather than buying one, but it’s a heck of a lot more fun. That’s what we’re really buying.

  42. Dick Smith Electronics have done the same thing Radio Shack did…

    They abandoned components, they abandoned DIY electronics, they abandoned kits.

    Now they sell TV’s, DVD players, phones, and computers.

    Dick Smith must be PISSED at that.

    And the company isn’t doing too well either.

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