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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 RadioShack has also publicly admitted its current stores are out of date and in need of a massive overhaul.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 raydobbs (99133) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:13PM (#46398579) Homepage Journal

    There isn't a place for a Radio Shack that won't commit 100% to being the hobbyist shop they started to be, or an online retailer that isn't just a smaller version of Mouser or DigiKey. We already have little rat shacks everywhere on the Internet that sell soup-to-nuts, we need a retailer that is passionate about their place in the market. You can't beat the big boys on price - they can always undercut you, and if needs be - they can give product away for free until they drive you out of business. You need to be able to provide service and product that the larger competitors can't or won't - so far, Radio Shack doesn't seem to be able or willing to do it.

    • by timeOday (582209)

      "There isn't a place for a Radio Shack that won't commit 100% to being the hobbyist shop they started to be"

      Radio Shack is already 100x bigger than that niche could ever support, regardless of how much they commit to it.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:39PM (#46398989)

        Radio Shack is already 100x bigger than that niche could ever support

        And, having been around and watching in the 1970s and comparing to today, I wouldn't be surprised if the hobbyist electronic niche is 100X time smaller today than it was then.

        • I would agree. People don't want to fix that expensive [something electronic], when they already know everything is surface mount, and they don't have the skill to fix it. The cost for the replacement part and tools is higher than the cost of the replacement unit.

          We are in a disposable society now. Throw away your old electronics and buy new ones.

          There are fewer hobbyists now. I was at one of the Radio Shacks that actually sells components. I spent probably 2 hours doing parts conversions in my head to see what could work, and redesigning parts, because virtually nothing I wanted was in stock. Even for 4 transistors, I spent time going through what they had to find what was "good enough", versus what I wanted. Part of that time, I was restocking their stuff, because things I was looking for were tossed back in the wrong drawers. Not just one compartment off, they'd be in the wrong rack entirely. They tried to help, but they knew more about the cell phones and batteries, than they knew about the components. At least one guy working there knew what a transistor or resistor was. We had a decent talk while I shopped for parts. When I couldn't find something (like heatsinks for the transistors I settled on), he checked the other local store inventory, and then ended up telling me I had to buy it online.

          I was looking for another component the other day. I don't remember what it was, but it was something fairly simple. Their site had "Web Only" right the photo. The same for every potentially compatible part.

          • >There are fewer hobbyists now.

            There are fewer electronics hobbyists, just like less people are building steam-engines, but there aren't fewer hobbyists in general. The fun is in programming these days, rather than soldering together electronic components. We still break out the soldering iron, but the software is the larger part of current-day hobby projects.
            • 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.)

      • Well, in my town there are at least 4 Radio Shacks, so you're right about that... but all of them are little more than cellphone Kiosks. I'm not sure what brilliant mind they had that thought they'd make money by putting a cellphone Kiosk in a mall next to the Best Buy, Apple, Verizon, and ATT stores... not to mention the dozen or so little booths in the middle of the mall... but it's clearly not working.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        They tried to grow the niche, but missed. Rather than being RC & phones (what they were the last time I was in), they could have branched into home automation and other tech items that were not mainstream, but hobbies. And hopefully large enough to support the business. But by the time they went back to roots, I'd already moved on. So they missed their chance. They alienated their "loyal" base, then abandoned their phones & RC model. They were left with nothing.
        • by AJH16 (940784) <[moc.efaccg] [ta] [ja]> on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @03:02PM (#46399399) Homepage

          The bigger problem was the loss of knowledgeable staff. They should have expanded in to cameras not phones, they would have had more of a chance there. Now all the staff that knew what they were doing are gone though and instead of "You've got questions, we've got answers." It's "You've got questions and our stares are even more blank than the idiots at Best Buy."

          • Cameras wouldn't have worked. Ask Ritz or Wolf Camera. Aside from photography stores in larger cities catering to higher end prosumer/professionals (think B&H or Adorama), and Best Buy, that business has all but disappeared from retail.
      • by raymorris (2726007) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @03:31PM (#46399777)

        The hobbyist niche didn't fully support them in the old days either, with something like 80% of retail revenue coming at Christmas time and Radio Shack selling a ton of RC toys and such. Other times of the year, non-geeks looking for cables, adapters, etc. were a major market for them. Their slogan "you've got questions, we've got answers" was accurate - their employees got raises for passing tests in various fields, so they would have the answer. Any average Joe could come in saying "I want to hook both my DVD player and my game console to two TVs ..." and the Radio Shack employees would steer them to the products they needed, cable, A/B switches, etc.

        For the niche that defined the brand, that's still there, it's just shifted a little bit. The same guys, like me, are still interested in similar stuff. It's just shifted from ie short-wave radio to 3D printing. If each Radio Shack location (or some of them) had a 3D printer in the store, that would bring traffic from the same people who used to buy resistors and antennas there. We're not building homebrew computers anymore, but we sure might want some servos to hook to our Raspberry Pi.

        Video game stores aren't still trying to sell Atari 2600 games, but they haven't changed too much - they are just selling the new games. Radio Shack could do the same. Not by selling (only) the same resistors they sold 30 years ago, but by adding what today's geeks want, stuff for rPi and microcontroller systems, and whatever else is most popular on makezine.com.

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:41PM (#46399023)

      Radio Shack just makes me cry when I go in there now. Having one small cabinet with nothing more than about a dozen different resistor values and toggle switches priced at $8 a piece is not a "return to your roots"

      When Radio Shack was doing well they sold some of the best, and even most unique Stereo equipment you could find. The first surround sound I ever heard was in a Radio Shack and that was a good 5 years before I saw it anywhere else. I could take in a parts list and the clerk would tell me to come back in a few days and he'd have my order ready.

      There IS a market for Radio Shack and they could do well, but they need to get out of the mall where rent is so high and start stocking real stuff again. How about offering project boxes with custom silk screen or etching right in the store? I'd pay $100 - $200 for such a service. How about an array of knobs and such to make your project stand out? 3D printers and supplies? Arduino supplies... how about workshops on coding for them? Come on, this isn't that hard.

      There's a strip mall near me and all within about 5 blocks you can find Woodcraft, Harbor Freight, Northern Tool, Home Depot, AutoZone, Hobby Lobby and a fabric store. THAT is where Radio Shack needs their store... not next to Bannana republic for gods sake.

      • by Soulskill (1459) Works for Slashdot

        Stock seems to vary a lot by location, at least near me.

        I've gone in there a handful of times in the past year or so, and had the same experience every time. They always almost have what I want. They'll have some rare/old cable adapter, but it'll be M/M instead of F/F.

        I think your suggestion for what they could sell is a great one, and I'd be far more likely to go back if they made the switch. Clearly there are companies who make money in that space. But I think it'll be hard to convince the Radio Shack exe

      • 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 ....
         

    • They're best business model would be availability and location. When I was in college, I could go to 2 different electronics stores that were less expensive, but if I needed only 2-3 components, Radio Shack was the place to go. More expensive, but faster to get to. They closed near 20 years ago in Canada, after years of only being the shadow of themselves...

      They tried to compete with the big stores (Futureshop and Bestbuy) and failed. I remember in the '80s they had so much nice stuff, their 200-in-1 kits a

      • They're best business model would be availability and location. When I was in college, I could go to 2 different electronics stores that were less expensive, but if I needed only 2-3 components, Radio Shack was the place to go. More expensive, but faster to get to. They closed near 20 years ago in Canada, after years of only being the shadow of themselves...

        They tried to compete with the big stores (Futureshop and Bestbuy) and failed. I remember in the '80s they had so much nice stuff, their 200-in-1 kits and Armatron come to mind...

        Except you forgot to mention that they did come back in an odd way as "The Source" now in Canada as of 2009. Only thing I find that's annoying is their name brand "Nexxtech" seems ok for a few things such as batteries, alarm clocks, USB Drives, and cables, adapters, etcetera, but they don't actually print product number's on the packaging which means if you want to look by stock number online then go to an actual store in the mall you end up hoping it's not in the wrong spot.

        And, here in Canada too the focu

    • You need to be able to provide service and product that the larger competitors can't or won't - so far, Radio Shack doesn't seem to be able or willing to do it.

      Not true! The in-person sneering and overt superiority complex you get from radio shack employees is far more effective at discouraging budding hobbyists than any "use search" dismissal in a newby electronics forum. Oh wait...that sounds counter productive to their business....

    • I agree. When they tried to change to a mobile phone retailer, they didn't do well. Their purpose became muddied and second class. When I did go into one for a cable, connector or part, it was my last resort if I wanted it today. They often did not have it or had it for an absurd price. It would be costly now to change back to their roots, but I don't think there is an alternative if they intend to survive. If they return to a hobbyist store, they should do it with all their heart and purpose....or go back

    • Blame the MBAs. Every time they take over a niche business, they want to turn it into the business model of the largest generic vendor out there. The Science Channel is no longer science, but looks like every other cable channel. Mini wants to sell bigger and bigger cars. Radio Shack is no longer electronics bits and pieces, but wants to be every other electronics vendor. A successful small business is never enough. The greedy buggers only care about their suicidal rush to the top.

    • There isn't a place for a Radio Shack that won't commit 100% to being the hobbyist shop they started to be

      It's important to note though, that even in its glory days Radio Shack was much more than a place to buy blister-pack transistors and soldering irons.

      They sold metal detectors, HiFis, shortwave receivers, tape recorders, CBs, walkie-talkies, "flavor radios," speciality batteries - Tons of high-margin stuff that supported the hobbyist who spent two hours in the shop pouring over resistors.

      Flip

  • by geek (5680) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:14PM (#46398599) Homepage

    I stopped visiting RadioShack in the mid-90's because everything in it had their fucking name stamped on it in big ass bold letters. I wanted an alarm clock but every single one had "WE'RE RADIOSHACK BITCH" written on the front right next to the time. I hate this in much the same way I hate car dealers putting their dealerships logo on the car I want to buy. I actually made a salesman scrape it off and have it repainted at their expense before I purchased the vehicle.

  • And (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Cat (19816) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:15PM (#46398609)

    Radio Shack would be better off just closing all of their stores and firing everyone, as that would surely make them heroes in the eyes of the American business community.

    Nobody in America cares about electronics any more. You could stage a broad daylight bank robbery perpetrated by clowns armed with handgrenades and you'd have a below average chance of getting the average American to look up from their phone.

    Anything that leads to massive waves of layoffs, abandoned stores, landfills brimming with brand new discarded products, crying, pain, suffering, bankruptcy, investor fraud, theft, arson, graft, embezzlement, female store staff getting their asses pinched, CNN specials, Piers Morgan scolding us five nights a week and a government bailout is always the better option.

    Close 'em all.

    • Re:And (Score:5, Funny)

      by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:22PM (#46398737) Journal

      Piers Morgan scolding us five nights a week and a government bailout is always the better option.

      You have him now? I was wondering where that twat was. Can you do us a favour and keep him? Pretty please?

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      You could stage a broad daylight bank robbery perpetrated by clowns armed with handgrenades and you'd have a below average chance of getting the average American to look up from their phone.

      Are you insane? They'd film it with their phone and post it on frigging You Tube.

  • It's hard for a brick and mortar store to compete on price and convenience, and those are both pretty important to potential customers. Adding in a human element of expertise is a hard sell when more and more people can turn to google to get the answers they want.

    That being said - stocking last minute items could provide a niche. Sometimes you need a new keyboard, battery, or PSU stat, and even next day shipping isn't an option. The question is - is that a frequent enough occurrence to sustain a store?
    • by slapout (93640) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:27PM (#46398829)

      I think convenience is the one thing brick and mortar stores have going for them. I sometimes buy things at the local gas station. They are more expensive there, but they are a lot more convenient.

    • That being said - stocking last minute items could provide a niche. Sometimes you need a new keyboard, battery, or PSU stat, and even next day shipping isn't an option. The question is - is that a frequent enough occurrence to sustain a store?

      Absolutely not. Walmart stocks enough of that stuff to fill that need. Radio Shack simply straddling multiple strategies and not doing any of them well. They are simultaneously trying to supply batteries, electrical components, cell phones, toys, and a few other niche items from small and expensive stores where it is relatively expensive and inconvenient for their customers to visit them. I honestly cannot think of anything Radio Shack sells where they would be my preferred shopping destination.

  • Radio Shack ought to get back to being the electronic hobbyist store. They'll survive selling Arduinos , Raspberry Pi's, 3D printers, etc... Not over priced headphone cables and lack luster phones. Hows Beta?
    • by WillAdams (45638)

      Problems w/ that business model:

      - have to compete on price-point w/ on-line since your customers are tech savvy
      - have to have a lot of SKUs, since precision counts and when someone comes in for a 50mm M3 SCHS, they're probably not going to be able to make do w/ a 45mm
      - some elements of the stock are subject to obsolescence, so stocking levels are an issue

      I've tried going to Radio Shack for things for my ShapeOko (open source CNC milling machine) and they've never had anything I could

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by i kan reed (749298)

      I think the reality is that hobbyist electronics can all come from hyperspecialist stores on the internet. That's where hobbyists of all sorts turn for things these days.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        And when you find out you are one [piece] short, it's nice to have a place you can get it immediately without having to wait for shipping.
    • by bobbied (2522392)

      You are either nuts, or VERY sarcastic.

      There is NO WAY Radio Shack will ever compete selling SBC's and marketing to the hobby trade. They've ALWAYS been the king of markup selling junk at hugely inflated prices to the unsuspecting public.

      As an electronic hobbyist, I can tell you that RS has little I am interested in looking at any more. Their components are substandard manufacturer rejects (best I can tell) that they package in small quantities and sell for 10X the price. I rarely find components that

  • by brian haskins (3451617) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:19PM (#46398679)
    Radio shack has always been one of those stores I walk into looking for parts and come out realizing I'm only getting it online and I have to wait a week. What they should do is repurpose the stores to become what they always should have been, a hacker haven. Fill it with knowledgeable people who know how to make custom electronics, and foster people who want to build things but don't know how. Problem is... its just too late. Would be cool to see someone like sparkfun or something buy them and do something like that.
    • by DeTech (2589785) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:25PM (#46398787)
      Agreed. they should age out of the market to open a void for a more capable company. Sparkfun, Makerbot, or Andymark come to mind, or better yet a partnership between all 3.
      • by plover (150551)

        They have.

        My local Radio Shack carries various Arduino boards and kits, shields, peripherals like motor controllers, servos, sensors, and other stuff from various independent sources like SeeedStudios. I was quite surprised and pleased to see those hit the shelves in the last couple of years. Radio Shack has also become a heavy advertiser in Make magazine. And they're even advertising on TV with their "Do It Together" campaign.

        They are trying to appeal to the makers, they are partnering with all the righ

    • by vux984 (928602)

      . Fill it with knowledgeable people who know how to make custom electronics,

      who are willing to work evenings and weekends at the mall for retail wages? To sell parts that can be purchased online for pennies? To a market that barely exists?

      Yeah that's right there alongside comic books stores, model train stores, and used book stores, and so on.

      It can work, if they can find rent low enough and the proprieter is doing it because they love it instead of for the money, and mans the shop himself most of the time.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:22PM (#46398747)

    The big question is, in order to ensure their survival, would Radio Shack be better off continuing to phase out their brick and mortar presence while making substantial efforts to expand as an exclusively online retailer?"

    Not likely. They have no particular advantage in the online space aside from a recognizable (if tarnished) brand name. What they really should have done was to expand their catalog sales back in the day and become a distributor like Digikey [digikey.com] or Mouser [mouser.com]. I suppose they still could though they are behind the curve. They've gotten into cell phones but no one really thinks Radio Shack when they think cell phones. They sell batteries but there now are specialty battery stores that usually have a better selection and better prices. They don't have the scale or the expertise to compete with Amazon online and they are too unfocused to have profitable retail space. I can't really think of anything where Radio Shack would be my preferred shopping destination.

    Radio shack has been trying to be all things to all people and when you do that you don't serve any of them well. They have expensive real estate, small square footage, small selections of products, high prices and unclear strategy. Their advantages are that they are fairly well known and have a lot of storefronts. That's a pretty thin advantage these days. I'm thinking Radio Shack might be a pretty good stock to think about short selling.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)

      They have expensive real estate, small square footage, small selections of products, high prices and unclear strategy.

      So they should start selling Apple products then.

  • 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?

    • by vettemph (540399)

      I went to radio shack to by a small pack of RJ45 plugs that can be crimped with a pair of pliers. (it was on the web site)
      The store only had the plugs that needed the special RJ45 crimper ($40). They certainly had the crimper in stock.
      Having been jaded for so long, I assume they never have the pliers version. They are just lying in wait.

  • 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 gemtech (645045) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:34PM (#46398909)
    The local (Columbus, Ohio) Micro Center (from wiki: founded in Columbus, Ohio in 1979 by two former Radio Shack employees) has a much better selection of hobby stuff from my experience 2 weeks ago. And then there is Digikey, Mouser, Allied, etc., just a day or 2 away if you want to pay for the shipping (which sometimes makes up for the bloated Rat Shack pricing).
    I would never go to Rat Shack for a cell phone or satellite TV.
    Maybe batteries, but the Kroger next door had a better selection of coin cell Lithiums for odd sizes like what goes into my Toyota remote.
  • Last time I went into a Radio Shack I was surprisingly impressed. Not only did they sell small electronics (LEDs, audio connectors, voltage regulators) which are hard to find retail, but they also sold Arduinos and "modern" hobbyist stuff. My 5-year-old's got the gimmies at the array of science projects like hydrogen rockets, RC vehicles, and etc. I said to myself that Christmas gifts would come from here now, instead of a more generic toy store. Yes, they were expensive, but I've come to expect that fr

  • They still seem to be a cell phone store that happens to stock some overpriced parts and some arduino bits. The staff has no training they do know how to push overpriced cellphones and plans.

    Granted the clearance sales on some bits have been great ($5 GSM shield anybody)

  • I went to two different Radio Shacks lately with no luck - once to get a 4-pole 3.5mm minijack to RCA AV cable and another time to get a TOSLink optical cable (again needing a 3.5mm mini-plug on one end.) I realize these are not super common cables, but in each instance the sales people had no idea what I was even talking about. I also don't understand the whole Radio Shack mobile strategy; I can go just about anywhere to find a mobile phone and pay outrageous prices like theirs. With the whole maker mov
  • by Deputy Doodah (745441) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:40PM (#46399021)
    I was once denied a job at Radio Shack because I had been trained as an electronics technician. It was explained I knew too much about electronics and they didn't want me talking electronics with customers. The manager said they were trying to move the company away from that.
  • I've been going to Radio Shack since...well, since it was a radio shack. Back in the days of breadboards, resistors, capacitors, transistors and these new things called integrated circuits that were going to change the world. When they had the light beam spanning the doorway that rang a buzzer when someone walked in.

    Sadly, I don't think they can return to those roots. Their stores have moved from the low-rent strip malls to the high-priced shopping mall locations, and I think the overhead is too high to

  • Probably not a survivable fall and others are talking about their failings better than me. I'm not much of a hobbyist, but I had a few fun little projects I've worked on and gone in there maybe 10 times in the last couple years. They seem to have taken the homogenized tech shop approach of selling what everyone else makes money off of. I waited in line for about 5 minutes for a couple signing up for cell service once and the the huge electronics components sections I remember from 20 years ago was now 2

  • A better headline... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Digital Vomit (891734) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:46PM (#46399121) Homepage Journal
    I think a better headline would have been "Radio Shack still has at least 1,100 stores".
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:49PM (#46399163) Homepage

    Retail electronics parts stores are dead. Even in Silicon Valley, we barely have any left. Digi-Key used to have a minimum order of $25. But they dropped that a few years ago. You can order one resistor from them and it will ship the same day by first class mail, in a small padded envelope. This pretty much solved the parts problem for people who know what they want.

    The Digi-Key site can be overwhelming to hobbyists. Want a 100 ohm, 1/4W resistor for through-hole mounting? Radio Shack has one type. Digi-Key has 225 different types. [digikey.com] That's part of what keeps Radio Shack and Jameco in business. If Digi-Key or Mouser ever sets up a hobbyist-friendly front end site to their inventory, the last need for the little guys will disappear.

  • They should become the 21st century hardware DIY shop where I can walk in and get a 3D printer, feed stock, a couple of resistors, an Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Also sell Ham radios or just scanners and such things. All the niche market stuff tech DIY people want. Put it all in once place.

    As it is now in our tiny city I can't get any electronic components of any kind on the weekend without going to The Shack. Fry's is 70+ miles away and our local "real" electronics shop is only open 8-5 weekdays.

    I susp

  • by sootman (158191) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @02:49PM (#46399167) Homepage Journal

    http://www.theonion.com/articl... [theonion.com]

    Despite having been on the job for nine months, RadioShack CEO Julian Day said Monday that he still has "no idea" how the home electronics store manages to stay open.

    "There must be some sort of business model that enables this company to make money, but I'll be damned if I know what it is," Day said. "You wouldn't think that people still buy enough strobe lights and extension cords to support an entire nationwide chain, but I guess they must, or I wouldn't have this desk to sit behind all day."

    Too bad, though. I thought they had something planned after seeing their awesome new ad. [youtube.com]

  • If Monoprice buys them...

    1.) Monoprice has a brick-and-mortar presence. They're well known for having cables super-cheap, which would be impossible to sustain at retail, but even if they sell 6ft. HDMI cables at $7.99 each, they'll still be cheaper than anyone else within a 50 mile radius AND pretty easily make up the difference.

    2.) Monoprice is basically vertical at this point. They only need to sell first party gear, so they don't have to "pay" the third party manufacturers in order to have the merchandis

    • by rsborg (111459) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @08:42PM (#46403585) Homepage

      To me, that would be amazing. Alas, I can dream.

      As long as the FIRE (finance, insurance, real-estate) economy rewards those who collect rents (literally and figuratively) over those who work to produce profit, we'll have these issues - the cost of having retail presence is not going down, and looks like it won't, absent another financial crisis when the government refuses to bail out the banks.

  • When I saw their The 80's called and they want their store back commercial [forbes.com], I thought it was pretty funny and clever, but I also thought that the real problem is that they should go back to their 80's version. I recently needed to replace some blown-out capacitors in an LCD TV so I went to "The Shack". The selection they had was pretty pathetic and not what I needed. Thinking maybe it was just this store, I went to another one (both stores not located inside of a mall) and they had the exact same electro
  • Radio Shack is worthless. Every time I go in there looking for something, they never have it. The last thing I went in for that that I surely thought they would have (but didn't) was a 1+ amp micro-USB power adapter for a Raspberry Pi. They're more interested in selling shitty phones to idiots than stocking things that are actually useful.
  • by Connie_Lingus (317691) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @03:01PM (#46399377) Homepage

    ...as a 11 year-old kid riding my bike to the local RS, actually sitting in the display window in the strip-mall, and pounding code into a TRS-80 (around 1976) and saving the BASIC programs on a cassette drive, so i'll always have a soft-spot for these guys. the guys that used to work there would tell me i helped sales as people would walk by, see a kid on a "computer", and think to themselves "well, how hard could it be to use one of those if this kid is doing sorta-cool stuff on it?"

    however, like someone else here said, it's been painful to watch the slow and steady decline of this American institution (yes i said and stand behind that characterization)...they have always been totally overpriced but often were the only game in town for getting components and such.

  • CompUSA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asmkm22 (1902712) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @03:07PM (#46399459)

    RadioShack reminds me a lot of how CompUSA was run into the ground during its final decade of business. You basically had upper management throwing random ideas at the wall hoping to see what sticks (not much). The truth is, companies like these fail because the they are constantly trying to hitch themselves to the latest "bandwagon" rather than focusing on their core business.

    With CompUSA, it was a result of them trying to become a BestBuy clone. In doing so, they relegated their core business of computer parts to one or two small isles of video cards, and their tech services devolved into being middle men shipping laptops out for warranty service. They chose instead to focus selling printers (because the ink and cables were high margin), TV's (because they wanted to be like BestBuy), cameras (because most could only be returned to the manufacturer back then, bypassing the store's bottom line or a while), and a shitload of laptops (but only because they could sell TAP on them). They replaced that stuff with such a wide variety of product that sometimes it felt like they had absorbed one of the generic Indian retailers that hangs out in mall hallways selling cheap RC copters, or Sega Genesis emulators. There was even a laughable attempt by the store manager to try and sell this new HD VHS system as being the next big thing, and how the AV quality was better then either HD-DVD or BluRay.

    The biggest sign of trouble, however, was TAP (Technology Assurance Program, if I remember correctly). It was basically your standard high-margin warranty extension that most places offer. You can tell when a company is truly screwed because they begin to view these "products" as the only viable source of revenue, and begin training staff to push them as hard as possible. There were times where employees were basically instructed to use fear tactics to sell TAP, where they would play out scenarios for the customer like "You don't want to open this new monitor and find out there's a dead pixel do you? We can't return it if you don't purchase TAP!" Of course you also people like the best salesmen claiming TAP covered practically everything from flooding to divine retribution, when in reality it was basically an extension of the manufacturer's warranty.

    The reason I bring all of this up is because the same patterns happened with Circuit City, and now RadioShack. They've confused their core business model with newer shiny opportunities, like cell phones, and service plans. It's fine to expand your business with those things, but it should never push your bread and butter out of the spotlight. RadioShack can branch out all it wants, as long as its stores continue to offer the core services (hacker parts, electronics, and knowledgeable staff) front and center. Since it isn't doing that, it will become another CompUSA.

  • by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @04:03PM (#46400193)

    About 40 years ago Radio Shack was actually a place worth going to for electronic components and tools. As a fledgling electronics hobbyist I was grateful to have somewhere to buy parts, especially after the local TV repair supply store closed, and the nearest alternative was 70 miles away and I didn't drive. Back then Radio Shack's selection was decent, and the prices were high but not terrible. Even their audio equipment was often pretty good too. The stores were popular, and the staff were actually somewhat knowledgeable. (Back then an "electronics store" was a place to buy electronic parts, not TV's and stereos).

    Here in Canada, Rat Shack stores became The Sores by Circuit City some time around 2005, but long before that they had become annoying places to shop at, with a poor selection of crappy over-priced components, and arrogant staff who knew far less than they thought they did. On the one hand I'm happy to see the beast put out of its misery, but on the other hand I'm sad to see a company that was so important to me and to my eventual career die such an ignominious death.

    Requiescat In Pace, Radio Shack.

  • by ChromaticDragon (1034458) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @04:10PM (#46400271)

    I don't know about other folk. But when I saw RadioShack's SuperBowl commerical, I cringed.

    Timothy remarks that "a few years ago" RadioShack was trying to get back to its roots as a hobbyist outlet. I don't know how anybody could reconcile that idea with the incredible disdain for the past demonstrated in that commercial.

    Trouble is... what differentiates RadioShack? Why would I bother going THERE for cell phones? As they've tried more and more to become like everyone else, they've succeeded in undercutting and destroying any reason I'd have to go there first for anything. I'll still end up at RadioShack when my shopping research shows they have what I want less than others. But to go there on a lark? Not these days.

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