Well, crap

Radio Shack Store, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Radio Shack Store, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Radio Shack (AKA, RadioShack, The Shack, Tandy Corporation, Realistic, Optimus, etc) appears to be filing for Bankruptcy if the Wall Street Journal and Reuters is to be believed.  I see the words “private equity firm” in the article, that does not bode well.

Radio Shack of late has become a glorified cell phone store.  It used to be one could get some emergency repair parts, an FM antenna, or a CB radio as the need arose.  As a young lad, it was fun to poke around and look at the various radio kits and other assorted fun things.  My first shortwave radio was a kit from Radio Shack; assembly finished just in time to hear the Vatican Radio’s announcement that Pope Paul IV had died.

What happened to Radio Shack is fairly typical; what was once a niche market for hobbyists and experimenters tried to go mainstream and lost their core customers.  There are still plenty of electronics hobbyists out there, look at the Amateur Radio community as an example.  Yet, that market was abandoned for the more lucrative general consumer electronics market.  Unfortunately, Radio Shack never produced high-quality stuff, so their reputation in the consumer electronics market was not that great.  Thus, not being known for anything, they slowly slipped into irrelevance.

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20 thoughts on “Well, crap”

  1. It’s a shame, RadioShack is the place that started my interest in electronics. Sad to see it go!

  2. I also have fond memories of The Shack in its glory days. I bought my first telegraph key there, and would stand in line to use the tube tester. I guess this means that they won’t continue to honor their “Lifetime Tube Guarantee”! 🙂

  3. I, too, am saddened to see this turn of events if true. My first microcomputer was Tandy’s Color Computer. I still run software for the CoCo today on an emulator. Maybe, it’s best to see a reorganization. Hopefully, Radio Shack’s brand will continue in a streamlined form. With unconstitutional snooping by the NSA, etc, non-hybridized radio is FAR from dead.

  4. Actually, a private equity firm would be a good choice to take R.S. over.
    Without the need to financially perform heroically this month, next month, and forever, they might actually be able to make some good choices for Radio Shack.

    I’m sure that operating as a publicly traded company makes quite a difference, when someone at the top asks ‘What can we do? What should we do?’ Their question is always transformed into ‘What can we do that makes a profit real soon, and in a big way? And soon, like right now.’

    Frankly, with all those outlets, I don’t know why they’re not already Amazon instant pick-up locations.
    They just cannot continue to sell $20 USB A-B cables (item: 26-713, marked down from $23).

  5. I must say,I miss working with engineers bitten and nurished by the bug that RS,heathkit and Lafaette(sp)provided us.
    Some of the best young engineers I work with have palputations when I ask them to go into the cold, dark and locate something without a keyboard,screen and mouse.
    Sign of the times…

  6. Our local franchise RS is a little better than the company stores in that they actually keep some real parts stock. They also stock some general tools, bulk Beldon coax and decent FM and TV antennas. I hope they stay around.

    The previous owner of this franchise store told horror stories of their requirements to purchase certain products (mostly toys) via floor plan and as I recall some stock (even if un-needed) was automatic.

  7. Radio Shack’s business model as it stands cannot support any profit. I am surprised they have bought this much time. Consumers no longer repair electronics because consumer electronics are now disposable. Sub $100 flat screens, computers and tablets are tossed in the trash when they break or after a year of use.

    Radio shack has THOUSANDS of stores, HUNDREDS of which are not profitable and have not made the company money in DECADES. The handful of stores which do see traffic and generate revenue are drowned out by the “zombie” locations which rarely see customers.

    I’d luck as much as the next guy to see my local RS stores hang around for that once every 5 months I need a fuse, or BNC to SMA adapter, but I also live in the real world. No way can their business model be sustainable with that much overhead. All big box retail is hurting, but RadioShack has products most people no longer buy or can be bought less online.

    It’s time to say a grand farewell. I hope all the employees will find other means of income as they company signs off for the last time.

  8. Unfortunately the way in which we do business has changed and the customer base RS once served has also changed. Component level troubleshooting is a lost art. Even if one wanted to take the time to repair a SMC circuit board, replacing a chip with over 100 pins is practically impossible even if you could find a replacement.
    A few days ago I saw something I hadn’t in a decade: A car with a roof mounted CB antenna! CB was (sadly) responsible for the demise of Lafayette. Hobby has changed. So few people build kits or homebrew equipment anymore. It is easier and less expensive for a client to buy a Henry Engineering, RDL or JK Audio box than for me to build one (an unbalanced-to-balanced audio converter, for example). I’ve bought a lot of equipment and parts from RS over the years and have mostly been satisfied. If I need chips, switches, components and the like I check Mouser, Newark, and other online resources because I know that the local RS store no longer carries these on blister packs. Like Petula Clark sang “A Sign Of The Times”.

  9. You have a point Tom, everything about the business has changed. Even when you do have component-level skills, it isn’t an efficient use of your time often as not.
    Last time I recapped a motherboard it took 1.5 hours + parts. At contractor’s rates it would be less costly to simply buy another.

    I just bought replacement power supplies for a couple of failed touchscreens direct from the OEM. Less than $20 each, including shipping from China.
    Why would I even open the failed unit to look, much less spend time recapping and replacing the failed parts? At $20 each I’m not saving anyone anything.

    I went to RS perhaps once in the last 6-7 years, to find a PL259 connector I really needed right now. They didn’t know what it was. “UHF” connector either. “One of those CB antenna plugs”…that turned the lights on, lol.

  10. At the risk of being redundant( I am),I re-post my comments from a previous post on this matter.

    I must say,I miss working with engineers bitten and nurished by the bug that RS,heathkit and Lafaette(sp)provided us.
    Some of the best young engineers I work with have palputations when I ask them to go into the cold, dark and locate something without a keyboard,screen and mouse.
    Sign of the times…

  11. If RS wants to become relevant, they should study the business model of Micro Center (always packed), and the mail order success of Jameco (catalogs fun to read). Sh*tcan the toys and cellphones, and become the Lowes of the computer and electronic hobbyist. Basically a return to their roots.

  12. Hear! Hear! Jim!

    I am so tired of enduring “can we upgrade your phone today?” or some other inanity every time I’ve ventured into a RS for the last decade. If I ask about the thing I’ve come to buy, the look returned is usually one of glazed vacuousness. I go there very seldom now.

    To Jim’s list I’ll add American Science & Surplus (also fun-to-read catalog), MCM, and Make: magazine. I do see some RS ads in recent issues of Make:, so there is a glimmer of hope.

  13. Hey, Tom… curious… how did CB cause the demise of Lafayette? I remember that store fondly! Radio Shack used to be a haven for electronics tinkerers. I miss those days!! When they started pushing the cell phones, was when they lost it.

    My local store is gone. 🙁 I did manage to pick up a small handful of good stuff at deep discount, tho.

    Now, the remaining stores and Radio Shack Corporate are being absorbed/assimilated by Sprint. Wheee. I can’t stand it. Pinch me, I must be dreaming. 🙁

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