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RadioShack To Close 1,100 Stores 423

Posted by timothy
from the too-weak-to-ask-for-your-zip-code dept.
wjcofkc writes "The decline of RadioShack has been painful to watch, and now CNN Money reports that they will be closing 1,100 of their stores, totaling 20% of their brick and mortar presence. RadioShack has also publicly admitted its current stores are out of date and in need of a massive overhaul. But the number-one culprit has been a continuous slide in sales down a steep slope in the area of mobile device sales. A few years ago, in a bid to expand its customer base, RadioShack made a bid to return to its roots as a hobbyist electronic components retailer. Apparently the extra traffic hasn't been enough to make up for their failings. The article mentions that some of their stiffest competition is coming from online retailers. The big question is, in order to ensure their survival, would RadioShack be better off continuing to phase out their brick and mortar presence while making substantial efforts to expand as an exclusively online retailer?"
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RadioShack To Close 1,100 Stores

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:23PM (#46398765)

    Went to Radio Shack 6 months ago for a replacement mini-usb cable for programming a Logitech Harmony remote for my parents (they lost theirs in a move). They wanted $30 for a 3-foot cable. At that price they deserve go to out of business. Waiting 2 days for Amazon to deliver your cable is inconvenient, but saving $25 to wait 2 days? That's a no-brainer for most folks. If instead of focusing on gouging ignorant consumers (they're not alone in this, I realize) instead of providing reasonably priced products with excellent service, they've done this to themselves.

    Based on that experience, why would I even think of looking for hobby electronics at this store? So I can pay $10 for a capacitor available for 30 cents online?

  • Poor management (Score:5, Informative)

    by slapout (93640) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:25PM (#46398799)

    I worked at RadioShack around the turn of the century. IMHO back then they had poor management at the cooperate level. Inside of listening to the stores and stocking things the customers were asking for (like blank CDs) they chose to stock things no one wanted (and overcharged for it). They claimed there higher prices were because they had better trained employees. The employees didn't see that money. And the training program was a joke. Every employee had to take about 15 multiple choice tests. But every store had cheat sheets and no one really learned anything.

    At one point their managers filed a class action lawsuit against them. Some of the executives had to give dispositions and they were posted online. After reading them I could tell that either they had no idea how things worked in the store or they were lying though their teeth.

    Around the time I left they had started putting part in "bins". And they started sending in secret shoppers. If an employee didn't ask every customer about a cell phone AND a satellite dish they were fired. Even before that turnover was like a fast food place.

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:52PM (#46399215)

    As far as I'm concerned, Radio Shack's business model has long been to sell overpriced but inferior merchandise. In many areas it is the only place one can physically go to by some electronic parts, so it does get some traffic even from people who are reluctant to buy from them. If they were to go on-line only, I expect that they would soon be out of business completely, a result that I would not feel bad about because just maybe someone else might try to fill the void.

    Even the simplest things bought from RS seem to be plagued with defects. I've bought cables from them and found them intermittent and once I bought a simple 2 to 1 telephone jack and, when my phone wouldn't dial when connected through it, I found it was wired wrong. Their electronic component "substitutes" are frequently improperly spec'ed. And as to price, I recently saw a Raspberry Pi kit in Radio Shack, it was priced well over $100.

    May these stores just be the first, I'll be glad to see them all go.

  • by Dadoo (899435) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @03:06PM (#46399447) Journal

    8 inch drives never made it to consumer use. They were only for the big computers of the day. Things like newspaper typesetting machines.

    No it's your memory that's failing. As other people have pointed out, one of the TRS-80s had 8" floppy drives. The first computer I ever used was an Ohio Scientific something-or-other - 6502-based, with 48k of memory and dual 8" floppy drives. These computers were at my high school, and they weren't multi-tasking systems, so they couldn't have cost that much.

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @03:35PM (#46399829)
    As to your 20 questions complaint, they always swear that they never sell or share your info. But decades ago I started giving RS my mailing info with a middle initial of R in my name. My middle name doesn't start with an R, it was just a flag to see where my junk mail was coming from. Sure enough, within a year, I was getting junk mail from "Bell & Howell Schools" (remember them?) wanting to sell me an education in electronics, with that R prominently placed between my first and last name.
  • by King_TJ (85913) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @03:37PM (#46399863) Journal

    The Radio Shack I knew and loved, growing up, was one of the early computer stores, among other things. The TRS-80 line of 8-bit computers, despite being much maligned by proponents of competing brands ("Trash 80" as they liked to call them), were solid, reliable and capable computers in their day. I *still* know several people who have their old TRS-80 Model 3 or 4 computers in good, working condition to this day. (If you purchased that optional dust cover Radio Shack used to sell for them, and used it religiously, the machine might even LOOK almost like new!)

    The parent poster is also correct that Radio Shack home stereo equipment was pretty good stuff, all in all. Like every brand, they sold a few "duds" too, but products like the old Minimus 7 die-cast metal bookshelf speakers were even critically acclaimed in magazines like Stereo Review. (They eventually got renamed Optimus 7, with the 77 being a larger wattage version with about an inch larger woofer.) I believe some of their component stereo receivers were made for them by Pioneer, but designed custom for Radio Shack so not just identical to Pioneer models for sale elsewhere.

    Radio Shack used to also be one of only a few really good "go to" places for things like police scanners, weather radios or shortwave radios. Sure, other brands were arguably "better" but were typically only available by mail order or at specialty shops. At least with Radio Shack, you could recommend a particular one and know anyone could run down the street and grab it at their nearest store. The availability of some of these also meant readily available hardware modifications. (I remember downloading instructions on how to cut one capacitor off of a board in one of my Radio Shack scanners to unlock the ability to scan a whole portion of the frequency spectrum that was otherwise locked out. Pretty cool enhancement for nothing but the cost of my time to open it up and cut one thing.)

    When they tried to change into a mini Best Buy type of store, they really went downhill fast, IMO. I guess that was an attempt to appeal to the masses, who were less interested in electronics projects and hacking, and more interested in buying off the shelf accessories and gadgets. But too many retailers already did that better than Radio Shack ever could with their smaller stores.

    At this point, I agree that R/S may need to cut back and close quite a few stores -- but it could do well to focus the remaining ones on electronics for true hobbyists and electricians, IMO. Drop the prices so they're really competitive, especially on items like ethernet cabling and jacks. Carry a full line of quality tools like phone linemen's handsets, punch-down tools and "fox and hound" toners/probes, but sell them below the high prices of places like Greybar! IMO, there's no room to make any money selling computers anymore. R/S just needs to step out of that area -- other than maybe stocking a few common items like USB memory sticks or SD cards. But definitely go back to carrying a full line of soldering irons, solder remover tools, maybe an R/S branded oscilloscope ....
     

  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @03:59PM (#46400133)

    No Trash 80s had a 8 inch floppy stock

    I present to you, the TRS-80 Model *2* with a Shugart *8-inch* drive -

    http://www.old-computers.com/m... [old-computers.com]

    Complete with the 'orange button' referenced by the GP.

    Who's "trash" now, punk? Now get off my lawn.

  • by eclectro (227083) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @04:00PM (#46400141)

    >But I don't think there's enough business there, sadly.

    And there never was. But what would happen in the vast majority of cases is that people would walk in for that fuse or resistor and walk out with a bunch of other things as well, like batteries and RC toys. Which they became well known for around the holiday season.

    However, with the great change in electronics that we have seen, they needed to continue to innovate, in the same way that they did with computers and the TRS-80 that was light years before anything else. They also had the first portable computers with LCD display. They needed to keep that same thinking alive.

    Instead they put all their eggs in the same basket with cell phones, which was destined to become a commodity item.

    If they really wanted to remain relevant, they would have moved into cell phone repair. That has now been taken up by countless niche kiosks in the same malls that Radio Shacks operate. They just could not see themselves doing that. They really dropped the ball on that one. And that is just one example of where they could have moved to.

    If you want to see a store that is on the ball (and now another great place to buy batteries) is Harbor Freight.

  • by unitron (5733) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @04:14PM (#46400325) Homepage Journal

    http://lcdalternatives.com/ [lcdalternatives.com] probably has a kit made up already for that particular model TV.

  • by 50000BTU_barbecue (588132) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @05:15PM (#46401163) Homepage Journal

    Exactly. Electronics is now just a support for software. You don't design electronics so much as specify what completed system you want to program. Electronics is a mature field now, the only place I see new challenges is in power electronics, either in cars/EV in general, and HVDC transmission, and I guess solar PV home systems. Everything else? Dead and buried. Take a look at 20 year old electronics magazines: I'd wager 90% of the proposed hobby projects are either useless, too expensive or simply not relevant anymore these days. When was the last time you needed a 100KHz sawtooth generator, even if it had a digital readout of the frequency? Who cares? Anything you needed a 100KHz sawtooth wave for is probably software-defined nowadays, or deeply buried in a 1$ microcontroller (PWM)...

    I know I don't even use my oscilloscope much anymore, and I don't understand why some people seem so convinced you absolutely need one. To beginners, I always recommend a good power supply and to not waste time making your own. Get one that works first. Then you need a decent multimeter that at least checks diodes, and maybe capacitor and frequency measurement. Then you need one or two USB based instruments like a logic analyzer and a I2C/SPI/JTAG master. Then add a ICSP programmer for microcontrollers. Of course, a good soldering iron with fine tips, some fine braid, a bit of fine tin/lead solder. (It wets better).

    There you go, small, simple, cheap, compact.

    Oh I know, like last time I said this someone always comes up with an anecdote of the variety "but I had a signal that didn't work and the oscilloscope showed it had the wrong logic level!"

    To which I say read the damn datasheet. You'll learn more and end up knowing your device more. Scopes are a tool of a bygone era where things like television sets had a few signal paths with one or two very complex analog signals snaking around a few active components where having all the information from one or two channels of an analog scope made sense.

    "But but but!"

    But nothing. Electronics has fundamentally shifted away from the basics of the R, the L and the C and is now about the ONE and the ZERO.

    (Disclaimer: For the vast majority of hobyists I believe I am right. Naturally for the professional engineer working in a corporate environment things are different. But even then, there aren't that many 'scopes anymore. It's about the DCA.)

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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