How I’d Save Radio Shack

Remember Radio Shack?

It was the go to place for the do-it-yourself electronics tinkerer. I was a regular customer there, in the early to mid 90s, at a time when Radio Shack used to stock electronic parts. If I needed resistors, switches, diodes, or breadboards, Radio Shack was my go to place.

2010-05-15_pcw

Radio Shack is none of those things now. It tried to be a mobile phone accessory store. It tried to be a warmed-over Best Buy. The store has tried rebranding itself, but the owners of the company just doesn’t seem to understand what made Radio Shack successful back in its day. The now former CEO of Radio Shack, Ron Barriques, has quit after less than one year. Apparently, even he doesn’t get it.

How would I save Radio Shack?

Simple.

I’d bring the venerable electronics store back to its roots. Radio Shack should focus on being the store for the Maker community. Imagine a local store that stocks the latest electronics parts, including breadboards, NEST thermostats, LEGO Mindstorms, Raspberry Pis, sensors, and all the other doodads that can spur the modern day tinkerer. Radio Shack could also offer educational workshops for kids and adults, to bring back the excitement and feeling of what it’s like to make something work. Radio Shack should be the place for Makers in the community to gather and share the cool stuff they’ve made.

Radio Shack could be viable once again if they acknowledge what made them so great in the first place. But it’s been too long and I sincerely doubt that the company will survive after declaring bankruptcy. When that day comes, it will mark the end of an era. And that makes me sad.

-Krishna

These beautiful and intelligent people wrote

  • Stu Mulne
    January 25, 2016 at 1:39 am

    I think my daughter (who liked to go along) thought at the RS at a local strip plaza was the _only_ store there…. I won’t say that I bought one of everything, but sometimes it seemed so. The mud monster also managed to wheedle me out of a lot of the toys, too. She turned 30 the other day….

    You could get just about anything electronic there, and they were open until about 1800 pretty much every day, although 2000 or 1600 were likely times, too.

    Three drawbacks when I was doing that:

    1. No discounts at all, although I did get a freebie of some sort once in a while; their prices for stuff I could get by mail or phone (no e-mail/web presence at the time).

    2. An IC that could be had for about $0.50 or less – often much less – via usual channels, I’d often pay $5-ish. But I could get it NOW. On Monday, a local Lafayette Radio Store was a tad more reasonable, but pure “watch for the brown truck”, was a LOT cheaper if you bought enough to sort of swallow up the shipping costs.

    3. The counter crew rarely had any idea…. When buying computers and peripherals a few years later, the computer-related staff seemed to have a better handle on things, but I still could get that stuff a lot cheaper if I could wait a few days. A couple of years ago, I had to show a couple adults on how to build a simple series circuit to power a lightbulb. The staff knew what parts, but had no idea how to wire it!

    Might be too late for RS, but you’ve got the right idea.

  • Matt
    January 25, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    Over here in Australia, the local arm was called Tandy. It’s direct competitor was Dick Smith Electronics. Both have gone down the same route and are facing similarly bleak futures. Whilst you can get most parts cheaper over the net these days, sometimes the shipping and delays don’t justify the savings, especially if you are in the middle of a build.