Radio Shack Will Now Stock Cellphones, Cellphone Accessories, Arduinos

A few months ago, we covered Radio Shack’s efforts to suck less, and the Radio Shack DIY team has now come back with the top ten suggestions submitted. Of course Arduinos make the list at number 1, which we somewhat expected for beginner projects.  Here’s the entire list in order:

  1. Arduino
  2. More kits and project suggestions
  3. More introduction/instructional books
  4. Larger LED selection
  5. Larger resistor selection
  6. TONS more capacitors
  7. DIY audio and speaker equipment
  8. HAM radio gear
  9. More competitive pricing
  10. Stronger sales force

For all the jest of the headline, we know we’re coming down too hard on Radio Shack. We tried pricing out individual components on Digikey matching what was in a 150 in 1 electronics kit, and learned the profit margin on these kits are razor-thin. That being said, we long for the days when our local, independent Radio Shack – staffed entirely by really weird and awesome people – was still in business. They couldn’t turn a profit because of the 3 corporate Radio Shacks less than 10 miles away.

Tell us what Radio Shack got wrong in the comments section. We’ll put “There aren’t any individual AVR and PIC microcontrollers” down as our complaint.

123 thoughts on “Radio Shack Will Now Stock Cellphones, Cellphone Accessories, Arduinos

  1. @dave
    I think that you’ve missed the difference between a household product and a household hack.

    Sure you can put a $50 development board inside an alarm clock, but your household product isn’t likely to make it to many houses as it just won’t be competitive with the $5 alarm clocks sold everywhere.

    What’s the point in that? if I want it now I don’t want to wait four hours, and if I want it next day then I can get it delivered to my house and not have to go out again.

    Better to stock a full catalogue of parts in each and every store, have a maximum stock of 10 with a reorder level of five.
    re-order in bulk so that you’re not just shipping five resistors, but shipping hundreds or millions or different components at different values.

    indeed your idea of having components delivered specially is only going to drive up costs of parts even more as they have to be couriered to store especially for you!

  2. @dan – I’m afraid you’ve missed the point. He was asking if you’ll find them in household products. I correctly pointed out that you won’t, though people have used them in household projects.

    I further clarified that “Arduino” is a project platform for making your own projects easy to build. I don’t think there was any room for confusion there.

  3. sorry, I realised that after posting…

    I guess I should have qualified what I was writing more.

    Arduinos are pretty cool, and offer a great entry point (shallow learning curve). but as we’ve both said now you’ll find them in household hacks where people put something together themselves. to get a job done easily.
    but you (nor other manufacturers) won’t be taking them to market any time soon as there are more complex (steeper learning curve) but cheaper options/technologies available.

    I was kind of trying to say that there is a difference between something that you make yourself, and a household appliance.

    Not that you can’t make household appliances yourself, but I thought that the guy was asking about commercial products.

  4. Something that germinated while reading/skimming these posts…

    RS needs Public outreach…Youth involvement…

    such as…
    Boy/Girl Scouts, let each local troop know that they can earn their electronics, radio, computer badges etc. through the local RS, and sponsor the troops in their activities (help buy/sell their cookies or whatever B^) Have a knowledgeable (really) employee make a presentation to a local troop meeting (“Here is how a light bulb/doorbell/motor/logic circuit works”)
    Support, help sponsor, have a booth, conduct a build session, at Maker, hacker or DIY Fairs or such in their area.
    Ham Radio clubs… again, just “be there” for them, let them know RS considers ham radio vital to the community (as well as RS’s bottom line), and LISTEN to their input.
    Homeschoolers, they too have community networks RS could tap into, support and then, reap the rewards of encouraging creative, hands-on, learning projects.

  5. Oh yeah, another thought germinated,

    Open Source Hardware…

    What If? RS stocked a few of the beams, hinges, mounts, gears, brackets designed by the OSHW
    community? It would go against the typical corporate mindset of holding onto Intellectual Property with an iron fist, but if every BEAM or prototype builder knew they could get a few basic parts at RS, as well as motors, switches, ardweenoes, LED’s and relays…?

  6. SO I walked into a radio shack today to [pick up some random things I had been thinking about on my way home from work. I asked the clerk if he knew when the store would be getting the new products aimed at the electronics hobby market. He had no idea what I was talking about. ouch.

  7. All of my local radio shacks have about a 6 feet wide set of component drawers, with three stacks of 8-10 drawers, with a wide range of components from resistors to LEDs to simple ICs to knobs and audio connectors, plus 8-10 feet of wall space with soldering irons, solder, a few types of breadboard, wire cutters, etc. Sure, it’s nowhere close to Fry’s selection, much less Halted’s, and it costs a bit more, but if I’ve burned out my last green LED or need to pick up a couple of 555s, they’re right nearby and the savings in time and gasoline makes up for the higher price.

  8. The Shack was originally started with hackers as an intended demographic target. There was a book (sold by Radio Shack) about its origins. The title was something along the line of “To Catch A Rabbit, Make A Noise Like A Carrot”. It tells how Tandy started out selling war surplus electronics, knowing it would be disassembled and used for cheap parts. In the ’70s and ’80s, you could buy an etched circuit board for a power supply or a stereo delay line, or other similar projects, with schematics, parts list, and instructions. Every part was carried by the Shack. They lost me when thay stopped offering this hacker-friendly kind of merchandise.

  9. I’ve definitely had occasion of needing single chips that used to be stocked at radioshack. I just bought 100 inverting shift registers online. Why 100? Because the shipping cost of 5 was completely unreasonable. I now have 100 components for 25c each, whereas I only needed 4. If radioshack sold something so basic for $2.50 each then I’d happily have paid, and they’d have made good profit in doing so.

    I think radioshack should design itself similar to Maplins in UK, a store that is “sharper image meets computer store”, but has a large range of components and project kits with knowledgable staff.

  10. They already have cell phones and accessories. At least at every radio shack I’ve ever been in (in Washington), and they won’t leave you alone long enough to look at resistors and caps and op amps to actually buy anything b/c they’re too busy trying to sell you a cell phone plan. It’s LAME.

  11. RadioShack does not hire people based on product knowledge. Go online and try applying for RadioShack, did you get quizzed on resistors? No. They hire almost exclusively on salesmanship. Why?

    Because you will still shop there.

    It’s just a good business move. We still make most of our money off of the parts drawer, but if a salesperson can haggle a confused grandma who came in looking for a battery into buying a phone with a warranty, why not? You still shop there. No one cares about the grandma coming back or not. And the sale person makes $30 off of a new activation.

    Our REGIONAL manager has a rule of thumb: three no’s before not selling a warranty. We have to hear you say no three times before not selling you the warranty. Yeah, it feels kinda like date rape when they give in. Do you think our regional manager know how many ohms any resistor is? No. Do you think he cares that you do? Not in the least.

    I wanted to learn when I got my job at RadioShack, but after watching 2 knowledgeable managers leave for their sales and being threatened to be let go for mine I realized very quickly the only thing I would be learning is how to close a sale on a high ticket item.

    I don’t even talk to hobbyists any more. I use to ask everyone whether they had a project or were fixing something. Now I realize that’s time I have spend on customers who are spending more than $4.30 on some parts.

    …and you’ll still shop here after I say these things.

  12. I cant stand the customer that comes and wants a part then says it is too much. Our little parts our 2 or 3 dollars if that and the reason why we dont carry as much parts as we use to is becuase you are the customer that come in once year to buy that 2 dollar product and it is not worth it we want repeat customers and also i hate when you buy something online like a part or hdmi cable and it works half ass and you come in wanting me to show you how it works and why isnt working. You guys also buy everything online and then get all pissed off when everything in your town is closing up shop. But we all know it is not your fault that it happens because you are the baby boomers and wiz kids who do nothing wrong. You also like to get on here saying how much you hate radioshack kind of like you are sticking it to the man. GET A LIFE and dont complain about a company that still employees quality people with families.

  13. radisohack sucks. I used to work there. Their user base in the past (radio hackers, DIY guys) – buy things predominantly online now. Stores themselves are managed by fear nowadays. Everyday: how many useless service plans u sell, contract phones and credit cards with sky-high APR. Every day if you don’t meet the quota – u are being “disciplined” aka yelled at. I’ve once see manager simply cry cuz some district dude made a conference call and promised to simply fire them if quota is not met.
    F radioshack big times. Not buying anything from there ever again.

  14. Call this a wacky idea — but perhaps something like an RadioShack automated kiosk which sells electronic components may be a good way to (re)expand their footprint for hobbiest while keeping their overhead relatively low. Additionally, they can add something like a special order option where stuff which is not available at the kiosk can be ordered on their website and picked up (like Amazon lockers) at any kiosk of choice.

    Granted, this approach doesn’t give you someone who is savvy with electrons to help you out — but I think this is less of an issue as technical communities have now evolved with hacker-spaces and online spaces (such as

  15. What ever RadioShack does, it will be too little too late, and NO I AM NOT WILLING TO PAY A PREMIUM. The DIY community is made up of cheapskates, thats the whole purpose of DIY, save a buck…The BIGGEST detractor to buying anything at RadioShack is its prices. Also, most of their staff doesn’t even know what the hell an Arduino is OR that they even carry them!!!!! Also, I met some of their engineers at Maker Fair, they were assholes, had no interest in talking to fellow industry cohorts… They actually approached my previous company to purchase arduino clones from us, but their terms were absolutely terrible, they wanted everything dirt cheap, and the promise they could return any unsold merch. A huge loosing prop for our company.

    RadioShack is full of assholes!

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