Will RadioShack Return?

We suspect that if you want to write a blockbuster movie or novel, the wrong approach is to go to a studio or publisher and say, “I have this totally new idea that is like nothing you’ve ever seen before…” Even Star Trek was pitched to the network as “Wagon Train to the stars.” People with big money tend to want to bet on things that have succeeded before, which is why so many movies are either remakes or Star Trek XXII: The Search for 4 PM Dinner Specials. Maybe that’s what the El Salvador-based Unicomer Group had in mind when they bought one of our favorite brands, RadioShack. They are reportedly planning a major comeback for the beleaguered brand both online and in the physical world.

In all fairness, the Shack may be better in our memories than in our realities. It was handy to stop off and pick up a coax connector, even if it cost three times the going rate for one. There was a time when RadioShack offered reasonable parts for projects, and it seems like near the end, they tried to hit that target again, but for many years, you could not find the typical parts for a modern project there anyway. However, Unicomer isn’t just a random group of investors.

Apparently, Unicomer has been operating in Central America as a RadioShack franchisee since 1998. In 2015, they bought the RadioShack brand for Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. But now, they’ve acquired the rights to the brand in over 70 countries, including the U.S., Canada, China, and Europe. We imagine their El Salvador website might hint at what is coming. We didn’t see anything in the way of components or P-Box kits, though.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the new owners want to focus on cellphone products, headphones, batteries, and adapters. So, it isn’t clear if you’ll be stopping at the local mall to pick up an Arduino and a roll of solder or not. This isn’t the first Radio Shack revival attempt. We didn’t even cover the silly attempt to make it into a cryptocurrency company. But our original advice still stands: Give away content to sell components. People can buy parts anywhere at crazy low prices. What they can’t readily get is the support that helps them use those components effectively. The same holds true for computer and consumer products. It might seem silly to us, but ordinary people are probably perplexed by setting up a VPN for their home network or designing a theater room. Helping them is one avenue to creating sales in today’s price-driven market for electronics. After all, how many parts did the famous [Forrest Mims] books sell?

Photo credit: [Coolcaesar]  CC-BY-SA-3.0

146 thoughts on “Will RadioShack Return?

  1. I thought that radio shack got too caught up with the consumer electronics fads (sat tv or cell phones). It felt like they were tyrying to be a mini Circit City. ‘”I thought they should have tried to focus on the broader Maker community, including 3D printers. Gamer computers, a hackable phone, larger variety of kits for all skill levels could have kept them relevent. Maybe. Consumers are fickle.

    1. “Consumers” are sheep. They run around and eat the gras (buy a product).
      I never liked that term, I find it to be dehumanizing. If someone’s a “consumer”, he/she is just a gear in a broken machinery, an object that’s replacable. A car engine is a “consumer”, too. It consumes gas and produces pollution. By contrast, a “customer” is a person, a business partner, with certain needs.

      1. Unfortunately their business model didn’t make sense as I discovered while trying to cut a deal with them for an exclusive product offering back in the late 70s. Their VP of marketing told me during one meeting that his vision for radio shack was the place any ham radio enthusiast could go and expect to pick up all the parts for his next project. It might come as a surprise to some round here but the actual percentage of the population that builds their own kit is tiny. The result was that they had the lowest rate of stock turnover of any US retail outlet. And the astronomical prices? Most of their incoming cash flow was going to paying for the lease on the bricks and mortar needed to keep the rain off all the stock they just weren’t shifting. They seemed to have an expectation that they could get the rights to sell our technology for free. So my partners and I decided to walk away. Obviously online sales aren’t quite so financially constrained since warehouse space usually doesn’t occupy prime real estate.

          1. And at least some of those components were purchased as failed lots on the cheap and packaged for sale. I frequently ended up with ICs that didn’t work per spec. I recall an occasion where I had to purchase three chips to get one that worked.

    2. Interesting idea, problem might be the human factor. The question is, if the maker community is anyhow grateful or loyal.
      Judging by all the articles I saw over the past years, the community is always cheap on money and has no values, no code of honor. They just buy their stuff from the cheapest possible source, without spending a thought on transport/pollution etc.

      The projects they build aren’t containing any safety measures, whatsoever (fuses, open circuits). They don’t even care about how RFI affects their neighbors. That’s at least my impression (no metal chassis, not even aluminium/cardboard shield like in a C64, no shielding at all) All in all, they’re very selfish in their actions, from my point of view. Things lack maturity, lack reason.

      Longs story short, such customers aren’t exactly good for a business model, you can’t depend on them. They’re rather fickle, indeed.

      Hm. A future Radio Shack owner is maybe better off it focussing on a real business partner. Maybe other professionals or business men at the wholesale. They have a higher level of social interaction compared to end consumers. Something like Metro, but for electronic specialists. Radio Shack could also become ab electronic repair shop, with trained salesmen.

      That being said, your idea could work here in Europe, maybe, were the average people still have manners and common sense comparable to what was normal in late 20th century US. The impression I got from overseas isn’t exactly positive, you know. The people, customers, are acting very immature from our perspective over here. But that’s maybe just because of the media (TV, YT etc), no offense. I try not to judge. 🤷‍♂️

      1. Get out more. TV is bullshit wherever you go.

        I’ve spent much time in Europe, dual citizen etc. Worked wherever electric power is traded.

        Europeans have no more manners or sense vs Americans, get over yourself. Different manners yes.
        As to ‘common sense’, when you’ve had to get up and be the adult on someone else’s continent twice in 100 years, you can talk. In the meantime, keep your governments under control and as broke as possible.

        ‘Europeans’ don’t really exist.
        Germans are not Greeks. Paying taxes like a Greek would get you ostracized in Germany.
        Swamp Germans are not Italians. Paying taxes like an Italian would get you kicked out of Holland.
        Sprouts are not Brits. etc etc.

        For abject rudeness, a Parisian will skunk a New Yorker. Both are strong contenders. Beijing says hi.

      2. For someone who tries not to judge, you certainly managed to sound incredibly judgemental, condescending and arrogant. And, by declaring that all this is based on TV and YouTube, also ignorant.

        This is coming from a German living in America. There are idiots everywhere. There are also non-idiots everywhere. The former are just louder, making them more visible.

        Germany had Hitler and the Nazis, and, if the AFD has its way, we may have something similar again in the future. France is quite the mess right now. Greece isn’t looking so great either. Britain was idiotic enough to let Brexit actually happen. The entire EU has been in a major refugee crisis for years now, spinning up idiots espousing racist and isolationist policies en masse. And, for the few places in a happy lull, don’t worry, you’ll get your turn, too. Just give it time.

        The US has Trump and his fanatics, along with the Republican party too scared to do anything that would displease him as it would hurt their chances of reelection. The idiots have always been there, but now they have their spokesman, so they’ve joined hands to be even louder. That doesn’t mean all Americans are like that. Judging an entire population by its loudest idiots has to be one of the worst forms of prejudice.

      3. Consumers have no concept of loyalty, you couldn’t apply it to makers/hackers. They are (ir)rational economic beings.

        The current situation being makers buying components from overseas makes sense : We know everything comes from the same place (there are nearly no manufacturers in EU/US for the components we buy), so why abide by a different rule than buying on the cheapest place ?

        For the safety/RFI side, take into account that we are NOT in the 80’s anymore. Protection circuitry is generally integrated in the power modules they use, few people use fuses because none of that matters at commonly used voltages. 90% of makers don’t mess with wireless without using a all-in-one FCC-certified module like the ESP32. Moreover, I don’t think old-school makers at the time of RS were cautious either. No hacker project is shielded anymore because the commercial equivalent wouldn’t be either. When someone present a project dangerous to others, they are always called out for it.

        Now, a RadioShack would be more of a convenience Aliexpress. Physical stores are on they way out, and the big component vendors have never replaced Radioshack for physical stores. Why? Because it will never be viable again : It was only viable before because there was no e-commerce. The consumer oriented-part of RS still exists in other stores, but the maker part ? It still lives, somewhat, sometimes, in hacker spaces selling common components, and that probably the only way it can work now.

        Businesses are not needing RS more than customers. They buy in bulk, yes, so they also, rationally, buy online (in)directly from China, just like individual customers. Business-oriented physical electronic store is even MORE of a niche than consumer-oriented. Metro works because your average Metro product is thousands of times heavier and larger than your average RS component.

        And for the repair shops ? This market exists, is saturated, is decentralized, and is shrinking due to irreparability and smartphones replacing every other electronic product. RS existed in a world where failures were simple but relatively expensive in components, and where repairing was cheaper than replacing. Now, it’s the opposite, because of miniaturization and delocalization. For the last thing I have tried to repair, I stopped because the entire product (with discount) was cheaper than the spare part.

        I’m not even going to bother replying to the last paragraph, you’re just spouting shit now.

        1. well written.

          even as a ‘brick and mortar aliexpress’, i struggle to see where a new radioshack can realistically maintain any profit.

          aliexpress’ main feasibility is the fact that it’s a decentralized marketplace of sellers offering everything under the sun. a brick and mortar marketplace inherently must be centralized, and has a finite shelf space for products. which products are placed on that shelf defines the profitability.

          but realistically, i’ve got a microcenter within an hours drive that does exactly what some say this new radioshack could be. they stock adafruit, sparkfun, and other component needs. but even they relegate those parts to the far corner. it’s clearly there because of a higher-up’s desire, instead of direct profitability. i used to have a fry’s electronics that had close to 1/4 of their massive floor space dedicated to components– they don’t exist anymore either, though i always willingly overpaid for their in-stock components instead of having to wait for 3-4 weeks of overseas shipping.

          i just don’t see a way that any new business can be profitable in this space without intentionally crafting a very large online presence like adafruit or sparkfun have created. the local marketplaces for a brick and mortar location are just simply not large enough to support physical locations, regardless of what specific global location we want to talk about.

          1. I think you are mostly on the money here, but I would go a little further and say that the biggest problem with Radio Shack, at least in the ’90s and ’00s when I shopped there, was not the overall model of selling components locally at a markup, but that they totally failed to gauge or work with their demographic. I saw lots of stores in expensive real estate selling low end things like bluetooth speakers or cell phones, but barely anything you could call a component and certainly no one on staff who could tell you how a capacitor works. I understand the argument that components weren’t selling well enough, but given that I have found places still making a go of selling parts in most major metros where I have spent long enough to go looking for that, it’s clear to me that the demand for the items still exists, people just got fed up with the brand of Radio Shack. In much the same way that people still buy physical copies of games as well as systems and accessories, even from physical stores, but interest in Game Stop wained to near bankruptcy, Radio Shack failed because nobody wants to go to a sad strip mall store to shop for entertainment or parts or whatever when there are better, not sad, options.

            I’m not sure, however, if the economics of Nuevo Radio Shack make any sense. It sounds like they are coming back as a store that serves exactly the market that drove the brand under to begin with, an already saturated market where physical locations are mostly only able to succeed in airports or in tandem with selling appliances and other things that are inconvenient to get exclusively online and not easily available from more invested local retailers. Americans aren’t looking for a cluttered store to buy a low end cell phone, we don’t need to leave the house for an HDMI cable or a 1/4″ jack and if we do we know where to find one close enough and from a more reliable brand. It may be genuinely harder to find easy to obtain individual diodes, or a 555 timer, but if I don’t know pretty well for sure I could find them at a retailer, I probably wouldn’t waste a trip looking, and certainly not at a sad strip mall store.

    3. In El Salvador, no one can cope competing with Casa Rivas on that maybe, no matter how hard Josnab tries, it’s pretty much the monopoly of Casa Rivas.

      They have tons of old stock 74xx chips

  2. If they are not selling components I dont know how they will compete with the numerous other stores that sell the same things they are planning on selling. Cellphones? Ill go to either apple or my carrier’s store. For that matter everyrhing there is available at best buy even if I’d rather not go there.

    But even with offering components I can get most of the parts offered from amazon overnight. It’s only when I need things right now like fuses when radioshack became worthwhile.

      1. Exactly. A local hobby store (models, RC stuff, etc.) which, like most others, is trying to survive had a small Radio Shack area with that kind of stuff. Didn’t last long and last time I was there it was on 50% off clearance.

      2. Indeed selling components has no profit. Think of an hourly salary for someone with enough electronics knowledge to now what you need even if he doesn’t have the exact same part picking out components from 10 cent to 2 dollar each and having to do that for an half hour per costumer in the store. That combined with the costs of running the store and keeping the stock up to date will cost way to much to be commercial.
        And even then the last shops I known doing that had to sell me no be-course there are so much different components in different packages now a days that they can’t possibly have anything. They kept telling me they had to order some of my parts, and that’s something I can do myself perfectly fine, I literally did see them visiting the same sites to tell me the price for the order I use myself.

    1. Success as an online store is pretty straightforward: stock what makers want, and be competitive. (Not “easy,” but straightforward).

      If they want this to succeed as a brick-and-mortar enterprise, they have to get away from consumer electronics as a mainline business. Engage local makers, get involved in communities, and get people in these locations to learn and work together.

      Imagine a classic Radio Shack with an attached maker-space. If that existed when I was a kid/teen in the late 90s/early 00s, I would have lived there.

      1. Exactly. They could start by putting stores in areas that have makerspaces or at least a strong maker community like pottery shops, glassblowers, etc. My community is so bland with high rents that it would be hard for a makerspace to set up shop, sadly, so Radio Shack wouldn’t work here.

        1. 1. Place online order for parts to be delivered to store (competive price)
          2. Store is actually makerspace (rent time at workbenches with essential equipment at hand)
          3. Employ and train people to help/teach basics
          4. Awesome

          1. I also think that the sentiment that there are too many parts to have them on hand is a little disingenuous. I have worked in repair spaces with 90% of the parts I ever needed neatly sorted into a handful of shelves. In the same way that almost every Ace or True Value hardware has a significant section of nuts, bolts, fasteners and the like (all ridiculously marked up compared to the bulk price but also well worth not having to get $20 and a kilo of steel to replace one washer) I am sure that a store that people knew to go to for electronics parts (even if it wasn’t their main gig) could be successful in most major metros. Notably, it may not worth stocking parts that require something like a wave solder machine to effectively place, so some wisdom in what is and isn’t immediately available could also save some space. Finally, it’s probably not smart to put the shop downtown or in a mall or whatever. If someone needs a part today, they are still probably willing to drive out of the high rent commercial district to get it. Finally, the one smart thing early Radio Shack did was stock a few dream items for both the kids and adults who came in. Nobody looking for toggle switches dreams of a cut rate cell phone, but you could probably mark up a decent laser cutter or entry level but stable 3D printer by a solid margin and still get enough impulse buys to make them worth the shelf space, and an actually complete electronics kit could easily turn $1 worth of components into a $10-20 item, because (as a parent) educational electronics kits are decently hard to find.

    2. Yep. Fry’s was the only remaining place to run out and buy resistors or something like that, and look what happened to them. No brick-&-mortar will ever make a business out of serving electronic hobbyists again. Even the “maker” community is way too small to pay the bills on a physical location.

        1. Absolutely Micro Center! I am extremely fortunate to live near a Micro Center. I can order stuff online and it is always ready within the stated 18 minutes – about the same time it takes me to drive there. I usually order online because if I start browsing I may be there for a very long time. Micro Center is the only store I send other people to for computers and other electronic products. The problem is they only have a few dozen locations – they are not everywhere like Best Buy (1,000+ locations but I refuse to go there any more – faster to drive an extra 10 minutes each way to get to a store that actually has people who know what they are doing).

  3. The focus on cell phone products isn’t surprising at all. The franchise stores were all laser focused on selling people cell phone plans and upgrades even if they didn’t need or want it. Coming in for AA battery purchase? Have you upgraded your phone lately? I worked there and we were supposed to be super pushy on selling cell phone plans. Any parts or other items were simply there to get you to come in so we could try and sell more cell phones

    1. Yup, they were doing that all the way back in 1990 when I was working there. Forget being able to sell just about anything else in the store (I could and did), if you didn’t sell cell phones you could consider yourself on notice.
      I simply refused to sell those awful cell phone plans to my valued customers, mostly because there wasn’t any cell service in my state back then.

  4. Radio shmuck was relevent prior to the internet. Now, not so much. Just go online and order till your hearts content or until the project is done. I interviewed there in the 90’s. It was called a “group” interview in which 30 people were in a room and given their “your going to be a salesperson and as such you work on commision” sales speech. I walked out at the first break thinking “this company is going out of business.”

    1. “Radio shmuck was relevent prior to the internet. Now, not so much. Just go online and order till your hearts content or until the project is done.”

      That’s all fine until a snow storm or flood will make the roads impassable. Then everyone is glad to still have a local store in town that sells batteries, candles, bottled water and all sorts of little tools.

    2. I’d rather have a local store to go to. Need a part, get a part. No wait for part. Plus I like to browse. Right now not possible as I have to go on-line… Not convenient at all. Even pay a bit more if I could get it local!

      That said, I find that frustrating even with say ‘Staples’ store. Like to pick up ‘x’ SSD . Nope not in stock … “but we can order it for you”…. Well shoot, I can do that! I came in to get what I need ‘now’ :) .

      1. No kidding. If I can order it from Amazon, or New Egg, or Walmart even, possibly for the next day, and probably for about the same price, why would I want to wait a week and drive back to your store? And if that happens more than once, why should I even drive to your store in the first place? If it was there, I would probably be fine with a decent markup because it means I don’t loose my momentum and honestly I wanted it badly enough to visit a physical store in the first place, but PLEASE don’t offer to order it for me unless your price is notably better (and let’s be real, it’s not) or unless it really is an item I can’t get (or get the equivalent of) elsewhere.

  5. I don’t know how many parts the Forrest M Mimms books sold in their heyday but as a late 80s to early 90s kid the Rat Shack was pretty disappointing. I bought those Mimms books but when I wanted to actually build the stuff inside the nearest store only carried about half the parts for any given project. Of course the sales people always offered to special order the rest but the store was too far away and I had to rely on the next time mom wanted new clothes so that was kind of out.

    Why the kid focus? Well.. all those old timers I have ever talked to who fell in love with the shack back in the 70s all started as kids. That’s the time to draw them in isn’t it?

    Even with better selection though. I don’t see them having a chance at their old prices. And.. I did recently find a actual open Rat Shack in Wisconsin a few months ago. Looked like the same parts for the same prices to me. I do get it that a store adds overhead. Also the convenience of taking it home today and the fun of shopping in person are both worth something.

    But.. when a pack of 2 costs more in the store than a pack of 100 on Amazon or FleaBay…

    It seems to me that a store which just buys the common stuff online and stocks it on a shelf could mark it up pretty good and still undercut Radio Shack. Actually, I once found a store in some city in Ohio (forgot where b/c it was too far from home to return to anyway). It was an old Rat Shack where the employees took over when corporate pulled the plug. They did exactly that, bought components cheap from the Internet, marked them up and sold them at still decent prices. They also sold a lot of 3d printed stuff.

    That is the store RadioShack needs to become if it is to ever come back.

  6. I have fond memories of window shopping through the component trays (with an employee watching me suspiciously the whole time). I’ll be very surprised if they ever come back to that.

  7. The TRS-80 was definitely a major gateway to my programming career. Many is the time that I’d walk into an RS, write a few lines of code that can’t be interrupted and prints an infinite number of a mildly vulgar phrase, and slink back out again.
    But to be honest I’d rather have a Fry’s around than a Radio Shack. Prices and variety were much better, even if I had to drive 45 minutes to get to the only one in the Chicago area versus the 10 minutes in any direction to get to a $#!+ Shack.

      1. True for definitions of ‘one day it was gone’ = ‘it sat empty without stock for most of a year’.

        There is no business model for a brick and mortar electronic parts store that works anywhere outside Shenzhen. Plan better. Keep some shop stock.

        Even car parts have been spiraling for years. Used to be one of the chains had quality parts…not anymore. Now you’ve got to be aware and already know (for example: only OEM fuel pumps). You might as well not pay the NAPA premium and get your parts online.

        Car parts guy’s job was replaced by computers. Now it’s an entirely new job (knowing what’s garbage and what isn’t).

          1. They all ‘have it’…You have to know which parts are useable and which are simply junk. ‘Junk’ is easily half the parts.

            Nobody is doing this for you anymore. Rockauto will gladly sell you unusable trash.

            The advantage of brick and mortar is that when you inevitably find the part won’t even fit, you can drive to the shop and get the expensive one. Check it against the cheap one right there, expensive doesn’t mean good.

          2. But, if I need it now, like when a brake pad replacement turns into a rotor and caliper replacement as well,
            I am glad that O’Reilly’s, or another parts store is nearby
            (~20 miles) and open late.

          1. From what I can tell, Fry’s went under for two main reasons … the shift to online purchases from places like Amazon, Newegg, Tiger Direct, Mouser, Digikey, etc, as well as the fact that Covid-19 accelerated the shift before Fry’s could adapt to it.

        1. In my experience, surplus outlets lost a lot of “sources” for products to sell, as well as customers, when electronics manufacturing went overseas.
          There was a surge of surplus test equipment during the early 1990s when Clinton closed a lot of military bases, but it didn’t last long.

        2. Lets not romanticize Fry’s.

          They were the place that if you went to the store looking for a sale item and brought up the weekly ad on their internal WiFi, you’d get a different price or part.

          If you brought it up on your phones service and showed them, they honored the price without a scene. Almost like the managers knew of the shenanigans and were making an effort to not be noticed.

          What was really fun was asking the manager why the prices on your phone weren’t the same as the prices on their computer. Never got a decent answer. Especially once I turned on WiFi and hit refresh…What a coincidence that was. Fun.

          It was great to have a component source within a medium drive. But they could not be trusted in any way. Examine shrink wraps very carefully. One small step above ‘Computer show and sale’.

        3. I shopped at all of the bay area Fry’s from their original sunnyvale location (with CD mobiles made from irix discs) through the old Chip-themed sunnyvale building, and onto the last big Fry’s in sunnyvale’s blowout sale (where I scored a Fry’s shopping cart)…

          The biggest problem of Fry’s california locations was their attempts at selling large home appliances. While trying to compete with Home Depot and Lowes’ selections. A futile, and extremely expensive endeavor. Half of their immense floorspace was dedicated to refrigerators and washing machines and I *rarely* saw people browsing them at Fry’s outside of the week directly around a major holiday. Plus in the interim; they managed to force several of the smaller appliance sales/repair/lease brick and mortars to close. I remember two of them on El Camino Real during the 90s that were already not doing too good; but also recall walking past their empty hulks on the way to the bus stops later on in the 00s, sometimes with the shadow of their previous sign burnt into the building’s paint.

          They bought outpost.com and never leveraged it to show store status until it was *far* too late, and even when they did manage to get their online SKUs to somewhat match their in-store SKUs during the frys dot com era, their prices were always incorrect. But at least they’d honor them if you called them out on it.

          I’ve heard horror stories about local gangs abusing Fry’s lenient return policies, often stealing right from the shelves and grifting returns without real punitive actions taken.

          Fry’s tried to start negotiation with their suppliers to move towards a consignment arrangement, but my understanding is that few were willing to sign on the dotted line.
          Stocks dwindled, empty shelfs were more visible, and then they just collapsed.

          1. > The biggest problem of Fry’s california locations was their attempts at selling large home appliances.

            This is exactly what killed Dick Smith Electronics in Australia. They went from a profitable niche of hobbyist stuff, to trying to compete in a saturated market. Then they went bust and their corpse was turned into an online brand.

    1. Radio Shack really did blow the TRS-80 era. They didn’t really understand selling software. They sold record and tape players, they didn’t sell music. Why would they sell software. They had stores everywhere and could have offered support services for government, schools, and businesses. But that was too different from selling electronics, parts, tools, and such. They even came out with a like of very popular and not terrible PCs plus the Model 100 that still has fans to this day. They had so many interesting products but just seemed to have lost their way and now are gone. It is kind of sad but things change and it is best to not think that anything is too big to fail.

      1. I bought some old version of MS-DOS at RadioShack for about $20.
        Then, every few weeks after, I would receive a notice in the mail that a “new” version was available for $19.95.
        Each new version was some small increment of the previous version; more like a single bug fix. Microsoft was already selling a major version or 2 beyond what RadioShack was offering.

  8. Wasn´t El Salvador the country that changed their official currency to bitcoins ? And then had some problems when the value of that “reduced” ?

    Also, sell cell phones ? One more store doing that ?

    1. The Source split from Tandy way back in 1986. It has long been much more like a Best Buy than it ever was as a Radio Shack. Do a search for “resistor” on their web page and see what you get.

      1. 1986 was when Tandy created InterTAN Canada to run Radio Shack in Canada and Europe (InterTAN Australia was also created at the same time). InterTAN Canada was bought by Circuit City in 2005, which is when the stores were re-branded as The Source by Circuit City. It became just The Source in 2009 when it was purchased by Bell Canada.

  9. I quit Radio Shack as a customer when A) the clerk did not know what a capacitor was so I found them myself and B) they wouldn’t sell me AA batteries for cash without me giving them a phone number.

    I walked out on B and never went back.

    Unlike, say Atari, the RS brand utterly destroyed any nostalgic connection for me before it had a chance to form.

    I stepped away from the Atari scene before it got really dragged down. I hear they may actually be legitimately embracing and maybe even respecting the retro community recently. RS has no such opportunity with me.

    1. Wow, item B happened to you too? I thought my experience in the mid ’90s of not being able to buy a $4 component WITH CASH while unwilling to give my address and phone number was just my unlucky encounter with a persistent freakout salesman, but I walked out and never returned to a trash shack store again. I learned to salvage electronic items after that day. Definitely a shift from my happy days going to the shack in the 70s as a teen.

    2. RS was the sign of a really really bad day for decades before they were gone.

      You were desperate enough to look for your part at RS, even though you knew it was futile. Would involve financial sodomy if, by some miracle, they had the part.

    3. “B) they wouldn’t sell me AA batteries for cash without me giving them a phone number.” This is the age old question “What do you have hanging there?” Also sometimes phrased as “Are you acquainted with the word ‘No’?” How do you manage in life? Asking for a friend.

      1. They had their priorities, I had mine. I was willing to give up the convenience of buying from a shop literally around the corner because I didn’t like the way they did business. They were willing to give me up as a customer because they didn’t like the way I did business. Choices have consequences.

        Realistic-ally (see what I did there?), I would have soon stopped going to RS even if not for that specific incident. They generally had less and less merchandise of interest me. I already had a cell phone, and I didn’t need a cheap RC car.

      1. For me, those are all overseas or across borders, so there’s still major shipping fees and 1-2 week delays, and sometimes customs issues. That’s why I still go to the local brick & mortar store to buy the basic stuff.

        Plus, I can buy ten meters of wire off of a spool without having to buy the entire spool. That’s something you don’t get from online.

      2. It also took literal weeks to arrive. “Allow 6-8 weeks for delivery” was not an uncommon phrase before 1980. By 1990 it was seldom ever that long, but if anything showed up in under 2 weeks it was considered fast.

        Well, that’s all in reference to regular shipping, not the expedited extra $$ kind

  10. “Cellphone products, headphones, batteries, and adapters.” are what killed RS. They couldn’t compete with even the mall-kiosk vendors, much less the carrier offerings and online market. For a decade, every time one went into a given store, more and more floorspace would be dedicated to cellphones and cheap toys, with less going towards components, even “components” such as coax, fittings, and other A/V supplies. Couple that with the Monster Cable partnership, makers of the cheapest, click-baitiest-marketed poor-quality A/V, RS shot itself in the foot over and over.

    1. The cellphone stuff initially seemed to dislodge only the Tandy-branded PC clone area, but at least they kept the parts up on the peg boards, even if they were relegated to the back.

      Sure, probably 75% of that wall was just various values of resistors and caps, and a few common discrete transistors and 74xx ICs – but then there was the *cool* stuff, like Xe flash tubes or 7-segment displays of Unusual Appearance or IF transformers or speech synth chips, that you didn’t know you had to have until it was right there in front of you.

      But then one day they had crammed it all into these drawers, and you couldn’t even properly browse anymore. But hey, guess that freed up space for all kinds of toys, phones, and shoddy PC peripherals. That wasn’t long before the end came.

  11. Yeah… no.
    I just do not see a potential customer base large enough to make a brick and mortar store viable under any circumstance. No one (or so few as to be inconsequential to a RS’s bottom line) is making their living with hobby-scale electronics projects where you need it TODAY. For the rest of us, I work in electronics in my very limited free time so if there’s something I need it is fine to wait a day or three for delivery and also at 1/10th the price or, like stated above, a bag of 100 for cost of 2-10 in a baggie from RS.

  12. little thought experiment, what would actually make you get off your comfy chair and drive to a Radio Shack to get? I can’t think of anything.

    The projects I do have to be planned in some ways, like getting the PCB made, so a Digi-Key order isn’t a problem at all and arrives in plenty of time.

    Arduino-related stuff I get from Adafruit because, as an above commenter said, they actively participate in the community and write a *lot* of good libraries.

    1. Generally, a broken component and no spares on hand (or if I realized I speced the part wrong) when I almost have the project ready might get me to make a run to the store if there was one. Some sorts of repairs around the house could also qualify.

      I’m a little disappointed that it wasn’t RS Components who bought the Radio Shack name, both for the similar name and the fact that they’ve bought one of Radio Shack’s previously owners (Allied Electronics).

    2. But, sometimes I just loved to go to RadioShack and browse.
      Since it was in the Mall, a side trip to Sears Craftsman was in order as well.
      Now they are both gone.

  13. I doubt that a Radio Shack reboot has a prayer of succeeding. By the time Radio Shack folded it had completely destroyed its image as a place to go for technology of any sort. The clerks horribly lacked any relevant technical knowledge, and the product offerings had become limited to cell phones and cheap toys. The brand may have a bit of nostalgia value for a few of us, but it lost all of its credibility long ago. There are still folks (like HaD readers) who tinker with hands on electronics, but not enough to support a chain of brick and mortar stores. Ham radio outlets have shrunk to almost nothing and most of that is via online orders. I can’t imagine getting better information on a cellphone from a Radio Shack employee than I will from the outlet in the local mall that is owned and run by the maker of the cellphone. When outfits like Fry’s here in the southwest have closed shop I don’t see how a Radio Shack would make it.

  14. Here in Australia we are lucky enough to have Jaycar as a place to go and buy electronic bits and bobs along with everything from 3D printers to Raspberry Pis (I could walk in to my local today and buy a Pi 4B if I wanted to). Obviously not every store has every item but the stores I have been in do have a great range of stuff (including a great range of electronic components).

    And not a single cellphone in sight.

    1. Gary Johnston used to work for Dick Smith. He bought Jaycar from John Carr (J. Carr, get it?)

      In the 1990s we had Dick Smith, Tandy and Jaycar. Tandy died when Radio Shack did one of its reboots in the early 2000s. Dick Smith tried to buy the corpse, but it was too late. ABout the same time, Dick Smith’s corporate overlords at Woolworths tried to diversify from their profitable hobbyist niche into large appliances, where they had to compete with Harvey Norman, Bing Lee, JB and all the others. About the same time, Woolworths was losing abundle when their Masters store was trying to compete with Bunnings. Dick Smith got folded,, but the writing had been on the wall for a while. They had stopped recruiting nerds and started treating their staff like supermarket clerks. They slowly stopped selling components and tried to rely on overpriced PC accessories and iPods.

      So Gary’s Jaycar inherited a market that had previously supported THREE hobbyist electronics chains. That said, they have done a good job of balancing the loss-making small components with enough RC cars and prepper stuff to keep the lights on. I do like being able to buy a 555 on a Sunday afternoon in a real shop, but I still miss Dick Smith.

  15. Free printed pin-outs datasheet with all components bought maybe? Totally un-necessary online when you can download the pdf from where you bought it, but when buying from a shop you often don’t have an immediate way to know the right part number to search for online so as to find the datasheet.

  16. Maybe if they were the ikea of electronics stores? Which would have to mean selling more than chips and components. Have a million 3d printers available to rent with various kinds of filament. Sell people kits, even if the parts you put in the bag are all standardized. Don’t be afraid to sell ready to go devices for the stuff that projects need that really does not need to be reinvented or may be out of scope for someone’s project. But don’t try and beat out the other stores trying to hawk cell phones and crap. If you’re going to be brick and mortar, be realistic about who your customers can be to support that. Microcenter manages to make it work somehow.

  17. You want a TV, Go to Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Miejer, Wherever!
    You wand a cell phone, verizon, t-moblie, At&t, wherever
    These places have an online presence and physical stores EVERYWHERE!
    You want IC’s, resitors, capacitors, and solder: Mouser, Digikey, amazon.
    All of which have an online shop (their primary one, I might add) but not so much in the area of the ubiquitous coverage the others have since the days of Radio Shack.
    Oakland city Indiana, A very small town, even had a Radio Shack!
    I really miss them, and I even worked at one, so, fond memories and all!

  18. Would welcome Radios-Shack’s return IF, they put products in the stores.

    It used to be that RS had the #1 selling PC compatible, the Tandy 1000, the computer that embarrassed IBM. They also came out with Cocos, which were neat computers for their time. They also carried the Tandy 1000, which along with the NEC it was based from was one of the first laptop computers. They also had their Model x line, where they had a 1, 2, and 4.

    Then, RS put half of their money into Circuit City and Divx, and the Radio Shack stores rotted. There were few products on the shelves.

    Still, even here in the Valley, with Fry’s loss for no good reason, with the failure of HalTed, there electronic parts are scarce.

    I hope that Radio Shack makes a comeback, the pre-Circuit-City verity.

  19. The only way this is going to work is to sell what Amazon / Aliexpress / Adafruit / Mikroelectronika / Sparkfun / Microcenter do not.

    I think of a 21st century radio shack and I think, it’s the store front for a maker space / afterschool coding camp.

    Those camps / spaces tend to work on a subscription basis, that pays the rent. Once that’s covered, the tools / parts you teach with in class could also be for sale, in a space separate from the teaching area.
    –Teach a class on 3d printers: sell filament and 3d printers.
    –Teach a class on programming microcontrollers in micropython: sell microcontroller eval kits and non-solder accessories.
    –Teach a class on soldering / wiring: sell soldering irons and accessories.
    –Teach a class on designing electronics: get hooked up with a single PCB maker to whom you will channel all of the work.

    1. “the tools / parts you teach with in class could also be for sale, in a space separate from the teaching area.”

      That’s how Rockler does it for woodworking.

  20. Radio Shack’s collapse was what got me back into electronics in a big way after a 20+ year hiatus. Back in 2015 I stumbled into a local store attracted by the 90% off clearance sign. The cell phones and batteries and standard consumer crap was pretty well picked clean, but they had huge disorganized piles of assorted electronic components marked down to nearly nothing. I couldn’t resist the bargain and started buying components even though I didn’t have any specific plans for them. It turned out that the location was the consolidation point where Radio Shack was dumping the unsold inventory from all the other locations as they closed up. I would up spending nearly two full weekends and assorted evenings sorting through boxes and bags and buying up basically every resistor, capacitor, diode and resistor I could find – literally thousands of components. I even bought two of the sliding drawer parts bins to hold all the swag (which probably cost more than the components themselves) when they finally closed.

    When I got it all home I thought it would be a pity not to put the haul to good use. Plus I needed to build some stuff to (attempt to) convince my wife I had not lost my mind. Once I started messing around it got to be a habit again.

  21. In my current hometown of Cordoba, Argentina, we’re fortunate to have a thriving community of brick-and-mortar electronic component stores. These stores are conveniently clustered within a hundred meters of a corner in the city center. What’s remarkable is the close-knit network among them; if one store doesn’t have the specific electronic component you’re seeking, they’re quick to guide you to another shop that likely does. They offer a wide range of electronic essentials, from tools and populated PCBs to ICs, transistors, and resistors—everything you need for electronic projects.

    One of the unique aspects of these stores is the personal touch. Over time, you become familiar with the store owners and their employees, and in some cases, they even know their customers by name. This not only fosters a sense of community but also makes the shopping experience more enjoyable.

    It’s worth noting that these stores focus exclusively on electronic components; if you’re in the market for consumer electronics like cell phones or TVs, you’ll need to venture a bit farther. However, the expertise and camaraderie you find in these component stores more than make up for it.

    In recent times, we’ve faced challenges due to import restrictions imposed by the current government. They believe these measures will help combat the high inflation rate, which currently stands at 117%. Consequently, finding specific components has become more challenging, making the knowledge and recommendations from store owners even more valuable.

    What’s truly remarkable is that many of these businesses have been serving the community from the same block for over 50 years, a testament to their resilience and dedication to supporting the local electronics enthusiasts

  22. I was a huge fan of Radio Shack in my youth in the 70’s and early 80’s, and it was my first serious job and it put me thru community college. But the world has changed so much since then, they cannot go back to their roots, it just wouldn’t work– just like it didn’t work in the end and why they died. And nowadays they will never compete on those items from their heyday. New plan: Batteries? Really? Cell Phones? Join every other Tom, Dick, and Harry and every corner store. Headphones? How many can you sell? (It would need to be a lot!)
    They might do OK here in Jacksonville, Florida though. There is a lot of high-tech industries here, and 4 navy bases where they repair many of their planes and ships. A lot of talented technical folk live here and it’s growing like crazy. And yet we have no makerspace or hackerspace, and no place where you can go and get that discreet component you urgently need – today! No place in town sells 3D printer filament, much less the printers. Amazon is the only choice if you are in a hurry and it will likely take at least 2 days to get it.

  23. In my current hometown of Cordoba, Argentina, we’re fortunate to have a thriving community of brick-and-mortar electronic component stores. These stores are conveniently clustered within a hundred meters of a corner in the city center. What’s remarkable is the close-knit network among them; if one store doesn’t have the specific electronic component you’re seeking, they’re quick to guide you to another shop that likely does. They offer a wide range of electronic essentials, from tools and populated PCBs to ICs, transistors, and resistors—everything you need for electronic projects.

    One of the unique aspects of these stores is the personal touch. Over time, you become familiar with the store owners and their employees, and in some cases, they even know their customers by name. This not only fosters a sense of community but also makes the shopping experience more enjoyable.

    It’s worth noting that these stores focus exclusively on electronic components; if you’re in the market for consumer electronics like cell phones or TVs, you’ll need to venture a bit farther. However, the expertise and camaraderie you find in these component stores more than make up for it.

    In recent times, we’ve faced challenges due to import restrictions imposed by the current government. They believe these measures will help combat the high inflation rate, which currently stands at 117%. Consequently, finding specific components has become more challenging, making the knowledge and recommendations from store owners even more valuable.

    What’s truly remarkable is that many of these businesses have been serving the community from the same block for over 50 years, a testament to their resilience and dedication to supporting the local electronics enthusiasts https://www.google.com/maps/@-31.4114046,-64.1835489,3a,75y,98.9h,99.28t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sTwtYZOvnxZWUBsU054Rp7Q!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?entry=ttu

  24. Maplin were great until they started taking the piss and trying to sell out of date tech at stupidly inflated prices. Their management got greedy and that was their downfall.
    Same story as a lot of small startups that become household names.If I remember rightly, Maplin started near Southend in Essex in somebody’s house. ISTR Their first shop was in Westcliff-on-sea.
    I remember their catalogues as a kid, lots of robotics stuff, components, very cool kits that were out of my price range at the time but there were things I bought from them in their shops in the earlier to middle years of their reign.
    When our local store was closing down, I did what a lot of people did and bought a lot of electronics at discount, although by the time I had a chance to get to the store, the vultures had almost picked it bare.

    Tandy was mentioned by someone here. They had a lot of packs of resistors, capacitors and of course the Forest Mimms books. Not a great selection of stuff in their stores TBH. Also not convinced that they could make any sort of comeback either as Tandy in the UK or Radio/Ratshack across the pond. Tandy does have a web presence, however https://www.tandyonline.com/, as does Maplin (https://www.maplin.co.uk).

    1. When I was in UK by mid 90s, they seemed to have got a couple of years behind the market and were slipping another quarter every year. I checked on them again in the noughties and yup about 4 or 5 years behind the curve by then.

  25. Radio Shack lost a lot of industries they were into like Computers, T.V. antennas for the roof, etc.

    Companies like Dell have replaced the competition because they get computers so cheap.

    The internet has replaced physical shopping because people don’t want to shop with their feet.

    Renting retail space or building buildings has to be passed onto the customer and if I can get a product for less, I won’t be shopping at Radio Shack. It’s a different economy now.

    The old Radio Shack has lost its way. Trying to compete with the old business model is a model that lost. I guess it is always possible but if they want to compete, their competition on cell phone items is 5 Below.

    1. “Companies like Dell have replaced the competition because they get computers so cheap.”

      Are you new or just the other possibility? Dell, which started out as a computer manufacturer, is a computer manufacturer with a market capitalization of $60 billion with a b dollars. They do not “get” computers. They are Dell.

      Be best!

  26. Temu has an ever expanding selection of Arduino and RasPi and ESP32 etc etc products and accessories at super low prices. Just enter Arduino into the site search. Home automation? Search for Zigbee. Addressable LEDs? Toss RGBIC in. If you’re looking for LED stuff that works with the WLED library, Temu sells it but their site search is screwed up. It insists that WLED = WEED and you get page after page of products for cannabis.

    Yep, Temu sells that, and sexy undies, and kitchen gadgets, and pretty much all the parts to build a PC. They have a wide selection of 3D printer parts but as yet the only complete 3D printers they offer are crappy tiny ones.

    A brick and mortar store Radio Shack chain might make a go of it buying electronics stuff in bulk from Temu and other low cost sources but they’d also have to do the hard work of hiring employees who know what it is they’re selling and how to use it. They would need to offer a scaled range of project building classes. “Buy this kit and sign up for a free class on building and programming it.” More in-depth classes would of course need to cost some.

    They’d have to build a market pretty much from scratch to create interest. Partnering with local schools might be a good thing for the students and the business – with projects for the grade schools, jr high or middle school would have more student input into the projects, culminating in coming up with their own things. For college and university students, offer discounts. Need a L298N motor controller board NOW? Temu has one for $2.69. Radio Shack could shelf price them for $5 and student discount for $4.

    1. Temu is Chinese spyware. If you have this app on your phone, it is stealing all sorts of personal info from your phone, and shipping it straight back to a server in China. Get that malwhare off your phone immediately! The Chinese Government is watching you. They know where you are right now! Temu is very scarry!

      1. Yeah, I accidentally touched a TEMU ad on my phone and the next week was a pain in the butt, (ads popping up every time I used my browser) until I installed Norton AV.

  27. Australia had Dick Smith, Tandy and Jaycar. Dick Smith was bought by a grocery chain and ‘moved’ into consumer stuff like phones, toys etc. They closed some time ago. Jaycar stayed with components (IC’s, resistors, connectors, cables etc) with a smattering of tech style toys and are still going. Maybe not as cheap, or have the variety, as eBay but many locations 10-mins down the road for most of us.

  28. There are quite a few original franchise location in the US that have continued to operate after the corporate bankruptcy, some even expanded because they weren’t allowed to compete with corporate stores before.

  29. If they want to do well. Take Best Buy, and smash it together with Digikey, and Home Depot’s electrical department. Then you would have something. I could spend all day getting lost shopping there.

  30. I too grew up on saving my money for Radio Shack Stuff
    (10 in 1, 100 in one, walkitalkies, eventually a TRS80 [later called a Model 1], etc)
    But don’t forget how they operated : They had unique products that they manufactured and then marked up massively in the stores.
    First Ham Radio Gear
    Then Audio/TV Equipment
    Then Computers
    Then cell phone stuff.
    Somewhere between those last to Re-inventions they started selling off
    all the Manufacturing Facilities. The lase was cable manufacturing I believe.
    buying at wholesale prices and massive markups made them somewhat
    un-competitive, especially when you could buy other brands.
    Of course, Stock buyback spent more money than all the debt they accumulated
    before bankruptcy. – That goes to poor leadership, which is a common problem.

    There are brick-and-mortar stores that succeed. Consider home improvement,
    hardware, grocery, books, gaming, autoparts, etc. Just look around and see
    where you go !

    So if Radio Shack is to come back, in it’s successful form,
    What products can it sell ?
    What products are not available in other stores, and can be branded ?
    What products are poor fits for internet retailer competition
    (Branded and Supported ) ?
    What product can be manufactured, to lower the cost and allow markup ?
    (It would be strange to see Heathkit sold at a Radio Shack outlet :-)

    Probably a product as revolutionary as the personal computer in 1977.

    These are the questions I have. Radio Shack needed it’s manufacturing base, and
    needed to pivot again, and needed less executive greed.

    1. As a kid, I always marveled at the fact that somewhere in the world was a magic factory that slapped “Custom manufactured for Radio Shack, a division of Tandy Corp”, and they made SO MANY THINGS. This was apparently the same contract manufacturing we see companies do today with plants in China. But I have never known who actually designed this stuff. I’ve never seen a Tandy engineering office or any of the people who worked there. Did they exist? Or did RS simply re-brand everything. It couldn’t be, because they had some things that appeared unique. They must have had a hell of a purchasing department that made deals with suppliers for the things that eventually got the RS or Realistic brands. If anyone knows the details of the RS supply chain, I’d be all ears.

      1. Tandy was the name RadioShack used in the Commonwealth(UK, India,Canada,Belize, etc) they are the same company, is just that the name RadioShack was already taken in those countries by a association of Radioaficionados.

      2. IIRC, they would contract an outside company to build something for them, and a year later demanded that company to cut corners so the product looked the same but cost RS less. They would continue to sell the product at the same price as if nothing had changed.

  31. Before getting a internet connection I would go to Radio Shack but after getting a internet connection and finding electronic part houses I honestly never went to Radio Shack again until one day I needed some solder one day and saw they were going out of business. I think I bought up most of they’re parts cabinet and most of the rolls of solder. Then when they were going out of business the second time again I got a text from a friend telling me it was happening again so I went again and this time bought up all of their Arduino stuff.

    In my opinion having a brick and mortar building isn’t worth it these days. Heck BestBuy isn’t looking to good either. I go to Best Buy once a week to pickup TV mounts for work and it’s always dead in there, seems their Geek Squad is what keeps them afloat. Radio Shack was like Blockbuster, they had their time and ended up as bitter tastes in peoples mouths. Everyone cried about Radio Shack left and Radio Shack re-tooled and came back but once again no one shopped there. It’s more like “you’ll miss it when it’s gone” type thing. To my knowledge they had a online store since they closed the stores to sale off what inventory they had left. If you go onto Radio Shack’s website now it looks like they’re pushing batteries, crappy LED bluetooth speakers / headphones and PC HID equipment, basically the rejects from Walmart’s electronics section and what you see behind the counter at Dollar General.

  32. Brick and mortar isn’t as viable as it once was, but I think a lot of people here aren’t considering the future. Right to repair legislation is picking up steam, and the EU already passed legislation for removable cell phone batteries. RS could be viable if it plays it’s cards right.

    Other suggestions about joining up with or establishing maker spaces are also great ideas.

  33. “…Other suggestions about joining up with or establishing maker spaces are also great ideas.”
    You are not the first to mention “makers” or “maker spaces“.

    A resurrection of Radio Shack (or Fry’s; or the simply HUGE electronics store which used to exist where I live (which sold everything the electronics hacker, technician, and electronics engineer could ever dream of wanting or needing–or…) will, quite simply, never occur if that attempted resurrection is based on being patronized by “makers” or members of “maker spaces“.

    That will not happen, that is, if the business people considering such a move perform their “due diligence”, and base their decision on a thorough and accurate Business Model.

    No such stores can ever again exist–in most places–for one simple reason: the internet, which has now turned into one giant catalog, one giant Home Shopping Network (©; ®; ™; SM), of (almost) anything you can possibly want–and with rapid delivery times (you will note that long delivery times–because of geographical location–are characteristic of those commenters here who claim to still have good electronics parts stores).

    Won’t happen ever again. In most places.

    1. I’m afraid you’re correct about this. The business model just doesn’t exist, thanks to Amazon, eBay, Ali Express, etc. It’s really too bad that one cannot go to a physical electronics store any longer. It makes me wonder how the kids of tomorrow are possibly going to learn about hardware. I think toward that end though, most of the kids today want to target software, since the smartphone has been made the de facto piece of hardware. Everything with hardware must be able to interface with it, which does make sense, it’s just a sad state of affairs for the learning, in my opinion. About the most kids learn about hardware today is using an Arduino or ESP32, which is still something, but just isn’t as immersive, and to me, confidence building, as going down to your local Radio Shack to buy a Forrest Mims book, a bag of parts, and to take it home and start putting it together with the knowledge that if you screw something up, you can run right back down to that RS store and get replacement parts. Those were the days.

  34. Back in the 90s, I knew a RS owner. He had a long commute and we’d often chat on 2meters on his way home.

    This was a time when they were pushing cell phones. He told a story that the latest word from ‘corporate’ was Cell Phones. And I spell S-E-L-L Phones. And that became their mantra.

    Handy as they are, those things took a lot of money from our pockets.

  35. “the new owners want to focus on cellphone products, headphones, batteries, and adapters”

    NO one has ever mistaken–for a genius–anyone who want to start a business.

    1. Sorry, I posted an EXACT duplicate of your comment before I saw yours. Yep, you hit the nail on the head. Radio Shack abandoned their roots, likely because a group of MBAs came in and said their profit targets could be higher if they embraced more consumer electronics over their bread and butter – components and the teaching aids that sold them. From then on, the brand was doomed. They left their founding customers stuck in line behind low income people who were there to buy cell phones or pay their bills and relegated parts – once nearly half the store – to a series of bins with sliding trays over in the corner. They obviously stopped hiring sales associates who knew anything about electronics, and instead preferred those who could push phones out the door.

  36. “The Wall Street Journal reported that the new owners want to focus on cellphone products, headphones, batteries, and adapters.”…so in other words they have the exact same strategy that caused Radio Shack to fail in the US? You couldn’t walk in to get a package of resistors without waiting for 15 minutes for the three people ahead of you who were there to pay either their Sprint bill or buy a nearly disposable phone.

  37. To quote: “ For both of us, the appeal of a store like RadioShack was going through the place and thinking of what you’d do with all of those parts.” I go back to 740 Commonwealth Ave and the greatest electronics store in the world. From McIntosh to Realistic, from Drake and Swan to Eico, RS I offered it all. Plus all the parts needed to build them from scratch if you chose to. Walking around, consider the possibilities. People like to make things, build projects from scratch. Nothing more satisfying than a task with a beginning, middle and end. Our lives are filled with endless beginnings and middles without ends. RS satisfies.

  38. The cellphone part is doomed; the retail cellphone business in the US is all about carrier stores and the landscape is already saturated with them. They should abandon that. The other problem that Radio Shack had was that their sales people were focused on pushing cellphones (they got incentives for selling them) to the exclusion of everything else, so other parts of the business suffered.

    They might have a chance if they went with a strong maker focus, adding the headphones with a focus on quality (not $5-10 garbage like the ones you can buy everywhere) with displays so you could try them, with the batteries and adapters as a sideline. Another opportunity would be a well curated selection of Chi-Fi audio products (inexpensive amplifiers, DACs, streaming audio players, and speakers from China) if they can get them at a price that can compete with buying from Amazon; the stereo business isn’t what it once was but it still exists. And offer a turntable or two to target the vinyl craze, but no Crosley schlock; give people something that sounds good and won’t destroy records.

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