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RadioShack To Close 1,100 Stores 423

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 RadioShack has also publicly admitted its current stores are out of date and in need of a massive overhaul.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 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 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.
  • 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.

  • 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. [] 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.

  • by AJH16 ( 940784 ) <aj AT gccafe DOT com> 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."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @03:15PM (#46399575)

    You're my hero.
    No seriously, you really are. You talk down to kids hardly making minimum wage because they're not experts on a niche hobbyist field? And hiring EE students to do the job of answering questions your local RS probably gets about once every three weeks would do what for their customer base exactly? Wow. You're just The Man!
    Sorry but even if RS had sold every Arduino and Raspberry Pi sold in the US it probably wouldn't have put a dent in their cash flow woes. It's really just not that big of a customer base. The only people I know of who dicker with that kind of thing put about 50 dollars into it and lose interest or they're old neckbeards who are still playing with reel-to-reel decks and demand very specific components which they need to import from Japan.

  • by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @03:27PM (#46399749)

    They should have changed their business model to match their business setup
    #1 order on line for parts
    #2 pickup in store using their existing delivery network to "ship for free"
    They could have had 1 week delivery. Essentially 1 or 2 days for most places near a distribution center. They had weekly or 2x weekly shipments.

    Rather than a limited in store inventory. That
    a) frees up store space
    b) reduced individual store inventory
    c) gets a much wider array of parts
    d) drives foot traffic

  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @03:31PM (#46399777) Journal

    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

  • Re:two words (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Megane ( 129182 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @03:39PM (#46399881) Homepage

    Because those other places you talk about only have to keep their stock in ONE place, and don't have to get it to you the same day. And they don't have to keep them on hang cards, out front where customers or their little kids can shoplift them (sometimes just because they want to steal something, anything), or they could even fall down cracks behind the shelving.

    When you need That Part on a Sunday afternoon, you're not going to get it from Digi-Key or Mouser. Like the time a few years ago when I found out that my mom's new 55" TV had four HDMI ports but only two analog inputs. The component naturally went to the DVD player. She also had a Wii (aka "what's digital video?") that also needed an analog input. The other analog input on the TV? It was a 1/8" 4-pin jack. Like on an old camcorder or iPod. Except this was on the back of an enormous TV set. Way to be cheap, Sharp.

    If I wasn't a hundred miles away, I could have just gone home and dug into my caches of wires and stuff. Or even gone to the Fry's store near where I live. (And I do keep extra wires in a closet at her place. Just not something that obscure.) So I go out shopping. Best Buy didn't have it, and if you think you get blank stares from The Shack, BB is worse, and they want to sell you an extended warranty for those stares, too. I went to the RS on the other side of the highway and they had one. At $35 it wasn't cheap, but I got everything set up that day.

  • by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <> on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @04:06PM (#46400231) Homepage Journal

    OOhhh, I could rant. And I will.

    I needed a VOM, mostly because I wasn't totally sure where mine was. They had a real cheap one for something like $7.99. Great!

    I got it home, and there's no battery. I opened it up, and it doesn't take a regular battery. The battery was about $15, and they didn't stock it. Nowhere locally stocked it. I could order it online, but that kind of defeats the purpose of picking up a cheap multimeter to use the same day.

    $8 isn't usually something I worry about, but it was the principle. How can you sell a multimeter, that doesn't work without buying a battery, *AND* you don't stock the battery. If I got the battery, now I have a $23 multimeter, with a consumable part at $15/ea. I couldn't even give it away to someone without them hating me for giving them a crap multimeter with an expensive battery.

    So I went back to the store and bitched them out. Someone in that store is responsible for ordering. Somewhere in their system should have said "You need to stock these too". When I was btiching them out, I asked, "have you ever seen that battery?" Nope, to the best of their knowledge (the floor guy *and* the manager) they never stocked it. I guess enough people take home the worthless multimeter, and either order it online, or just toss it in the tool box and forget about it.

    I'm not a customer to fund them by buying worthless crap.

  • I recently needed a new 123 lithium battery for my EDC flashlight. Radio Shack wanted $13 for the store brand, while I found an Engergizer at Target for $7. With that kind of pricing it is no wonder that they are doing poorly.

    I also remember a few years ago noticing that you could buy a USB cable for close to $30. Or, you could buy a complete USB hub, with a similar cable included, for the same price. Gee, which one is a better deal?

    I have actually been pleasantly surprised to see them sell Arduino and Basic Stamp stuff recently. While the prices are a little high, it is nice to be able to grab that kind of thing locally if you need one quick.

    I had kind of hoped that they would get back into amateur radio (ham) stuff too. With cheaper Chinese hand-held radios available for as little as $30 (Baofeng is one of the biggest manufacturers), they could have the stuff re-branded and possibly get back into the business with low cost and low risk. The quality is not fantastic, but is generally good enough, and might establish themselves as a destination for amateur radio operators again.

    I remember back when I was a kid, Radio Shack was one of my favorite places to go, and I even enjoyed going over the catalogs to see what cool things they used to have. Now, other than a smattering of hobby stuff (but not much), all they have is the same cell phones , DVD players, and digital cameras that everybody else has, but with more cost and less selection. Other than the occasional adapter or Arduino, there is absolutely no reason to go there.

Loose bits sink chips.