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An end of an era is almost upon us...


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#1 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:39 PM

There was once a place many of us went to in our youth, to drool over and play with the now Classic Computers, to purchase our electronic parts and to even hang out.  Once upon a time some of us even worked there when it was still respected.  

 

Now the place is just an over priced pusher of cellphones, their employees on average know even less now than they did in the 80's or 90's.  If you have questions, they have blank stares.

 

Get out out the shovel, Radio Shack is about to die.  << HERE >>

 

shovel1-e1349060685819.jpg



#2 Cobra Commander OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:49 PM

Best Buy should just eat them.



#3 Tanrunomad OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:51 PM

So sad and so true, but it's still nowhere near as ridiculous as Fry's!  Talk about overpriced!  I buy 99% of my electronics online now, have for years, but I still have need for Radio Shack every now and then for basic audio accessories and wires or to buy some LED lights or something.   One huge perk about Radio Shack is their return policy, no questions asked.  When I went to the UK on a business trip I had to get a plug adapter and the guy at the store was like "just buy it here and return it when you get back" and so I did.  Can't do that through eBay. 



#4 Gemintronic OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:55 PM

My only regret was not getting a CoCo 3 to play Super Pitfall.  The pocket calculator with BASIC was something I pined for and eventually got as a teen.  Battery life sucked so hard that I quickly lost interest.



#5 Ransom OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:03 PM

It's hard to come up with a business case for Radio Shack at this point. Even moving into a completely different type of business is hard to argue for; it'd be easier to start with something entirely new than to re-brand them.

It's too bad, really.

I guess I'll have to make sure to keep more odds-and-ends parts on hand once they're gone, and get used to waiting a while to continue a project if I need something I don't have.



#6 am1933 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:04 PM

I suppose the writing was on the wall, all their overseas operations have died a death, they were branded as Tandy stores in the UK but I'm pretty sure they dissapeared around 1999/200. A shame really-I used to like going in to Tandy's and playing with the CoCo's, I am almost shamed to say that when I saw the first white model-I seriously thought about buying one.



#7 high voltage OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:12 PM

I loved Tandy's, it's Carphone Warehouse now



#8 bkrownd OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:12 PM

My dad was an EE student (though not any kind of electronics hobbyist himself - he was more into power tools and home improvement), so many of the toys of my youth came from 1970's Radio Shack.  Experimental electronics kits, build-it-yourself kits, radios, toy cars, etc.   (but never any computers)  I ended up doing physical electronics myself, though not directly as a result of that.


Edited by bkrownd, Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:17 PM.


#9 save2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:13 PM

Best Buy needs to stay far, far away from Radio Shack. They couldn't even manage Sam Goody, Musicland, Suncoast, etc. properly. Hell, they can barely manage Magnolia, let alone their own stores. ;)  

 

The writing has been on the wall for a long long time for Radio Shack and agree that the model of ditching their core clientele in favor of the "get rich quick" scam that is the cell phone industry, was a terrible long term decision. There's still plenty of hobbyists out there. Plenty of people that care about quality consumer electronics and components too. That's the part that's most sad. I know so many people that simply never think Radio Shack anymore for parts and/or refuse to go because they know they won't have the part or even want to deal with the hassle. 

 

And yeah, most all of their employees are jokes today. Not sure what kind of training program they have, but they can hardly work their own registers anymore. 

 

Another shame in American history among the dozens to deal with daily.   :(



#10 jaybird3rd OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:36 PM

Radio Shack should probably switch to an all-online business, catering specifically to hobbyists.  There may not be enough electronics and robototics enthusiasts in a given geographical area to justify keeping all those expensive retail locations open, but I think they're a large enough worldwide market to sustain a business, and there's still a need for a knowledgeable source of components and supplies.
 
One of the things I liked about Radio Shack back in the 80s is that it was one of the few places to buy electronic components, and more importantly, that the staff was generally knowledgeable and helpful.  I used to hang out at a local Radio Shack store, sometimes bringing in funky old computers and game consoles, and the sales help could actually look them over and tell me what RF modulators and adapters I needed.  If I was having trouble getting something to work, they'd even hook it up to one of their display TVs to test the cables for me.
 
Now that we have many more choices for buying parts, I'd love to see Radio Shack refocus on what they did best, and somehow recapture the one-on-one human interaction that they lost somewhere along the way.  That's a way they can add value, beyond simply being a place to buy bags of parts. Following and extending the SparkFun model would be a good way to start: SparkFun is an electronics retailer, but they also offer an extensive collection of video tutorials, blogs, project ideas, and other hobbyist-friendly resources.  If Radio Shack can combine that with (for example) a project-oriented discussion forum, staffed with knowledgeable people who can actually answer questions, they'd really have something.

#11 Gemintronic OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:41 PM

If they go online only I really hope they continue the trend of having exactly what you need out of stock. Call the new company "Outtafruit" :P

#12 save2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:46 PM

The thing about turning Radio Shack into an online only model is the fact they're overpriced and have spent years ruining their reputation among hobbyists.

 

Jameco, Happ, Mouser, Digikey, Amazon, eBay, arcadeshop, 1000bulbs, and a dozen others come to mind waaaay before I'd ever look at Radio Shack's website for anything. Going forward or not.

 

Need more brick and mortar stores that carry parts we need impromptu like. 



#13 20ohm20 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:16 PM

I worked for Radio Shack part time from late 1988 until late 1991.  The amount of mismanagement from the district level all the way down to the three individual stores they rotated me through was appalling and unethical.  Falsification of store records and outright theft by employees was rampant.  Looking back, I'm surprised that I only knew of one person that was arrested during my three years there.

 

I have no love for Radio Shack and haven't bought anything from them in over 15 years.  Since I invested in a desoldering iron that has tips that last longer than two weeks, I no longer have any reason to step foot in a Radio Shack.



#14 Dripfree OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:57 PM

If they go online only I really hope they continue the trend of having exactly what you need out of stock. Call the new company "Outtafruit" :P

So true. I would stop in occasionally just to get some simple switch or something. I would be willing to pay 10 times the online price just to have it right away and it never failed they would be out of exactly what I needed. Or I would just dig randomly through the drawers and sometimes find a switch which was empty where it should be in with the diodes or something. The employees never knew a thing about the electronics components, Which is why the drawers were always a mess, which is why they could never order correctly, which is why they were always out of stuff. I did ride my bike up to a local radio shack as a child and that place got me started in electronic projects. Now every time I swing by one it seems there is a for rent sign in the window. Good Riddance for about the last 10 years that place only disappointed me.



#15 5-11under OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 4:03 PM

In other news, Radio Shack still exists.



#16 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 4:08 PM

In taking the simple approach I believe the downfall of RadioShack is because of:

 

1- Direction hobbyists take these days. More and more projects are built out of things other people built. Playing with discrete componentry is an old art practiced by few. And some people just simulate a circuit on the PC. Breadboarding is more a niche skill today than ever.

 

2- The Smartphone age. Out of all the neighborhood kids in our area, none of them talks about resistors and capacitors. They don't even talk Arduino or microcontroller. It's all "HeyDay", "facebook", and "FarmVille".. "Mommy mommy mommy can you get me this app? It's only $0.99!!" Non of them are interested in taking a ride to RadioShack to get a box of parts to see what they can build.

 

3- Idiot sales minions. Some of them are truly un-intelligent. The very definition of intelligence does not mean what you know, but how you go about figuring out something you don't know. RS sales drones couldn't navigate their way out of a paper bag with GPS. And because they are stupid they can't hook up anything in the store.

 

5- Buying a capacitor set (to recap my CrystalScan monitor) would be impossible at RS today. And dubious years ago. There are simply too many types parts in world.

 

6- Online information. When I go to Digi-Key or Mouser, I can get exact parts and specifications (pinouts, datasheets, all that). If not from the vendors themselves then from other warehouses or sites.

 

7- There are very little (or no) gotta-have-it-now electronic parts and materials. And those needed items would be available at Home Depot or any other construction superstore. 74LS32 or 4116 doesn't count. You can wait a couple of days to fix your Atari. And if you genuinely are in need of stuff like that, then it is likely you have resources like a company's parts department or scrap material to scavenge from.

 

8- People will go to another shop if they can save $0.20 on a part. But, yet, spend an hour looking for that better deal.

 

9- Annoying and tedious register checkout.

 

It's really quite simple. Management hasn't been keen on following the changing demographics of their customers.



#17 save2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 4:18 PM

 

 

7- There are very little (or no) gotta-have-it-now electronic parts and materials. And those needed items would be available at Home Depot or any other construction superstore. 74LS32 or 4116 doesn't count. You can wait a couple of days to fix your Atari. And if you genuinely are in need of stuff like that, then it is likely you have resources like a company's parts department or scrap material to scavenge from.

 

8- People will go to another shop if they can save $0.20 on a part. But, yet, spend an hour looking for that better deal.

 

Re: #7: I need certain caps and transistors quite often to rebuild flat panel power supplies and cheap ass PC motherboards. Some of the most common examples are never to be found at RS and I don't feel like carrying a bevy of stock. Would rather drive a few miles to a real store and pick up exactly what I need, when I want. Of course, we change our behavior and stock up or buy from other sources. Either way, Radio Shack loses and lost. 

 

Re: #8: that was BITD, when you had real competition (fostered by a competitive climate whose government was more business friendly) and supported by competent resellers and a knowledgeable client base. All of these things are gone today. 



#18 Dripfree OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 4:47 PM

Actually almost forgot about a very funny story from my last trip to Radio Shack that may also explain the downfall.

 

I go in looking for a couple of caps, resistors, and diodes. It was actually for my SIO2PC project I think about a year and a half ago. The whole time I'm looking around two employees are behind the register farting around on they're phones. When I go to check out he looks at the parts I'm buying and says, "hey! you like some kinda genius or something". I laugh and say "something like that". He goes to his buddy and says, "hey man this is our guy!". He then explains to me how they were just reading a story about how astronomers believe they discovered a planet made completely out of GOLD! So he tells me that if I design and build the space ship he will be the pilot and his buddy will be the navigator, oh and Shawntell, apparently a girl who works in the morning will come along to be our "hoe" during the trip. I told them I'd stop back in with some plans. That is one of the Radio Shacks that now has a for rent sign in  the front window.



#19 Osgeld OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 5:28 PM

The thing about turning Radio Shack into an online only model is the fact they're overpriced and have spent years ruining their reputation among hobbyists.

 

Jameco, Happ, Mouser, Digikey, Amazon, eBay, arcadeshop, 1000bulbs, and a dozen others come to mind waaaay before I'd ever look at Radio Shack's website for anything. Going forward or not.

 

Need more brick and mortar stores that carry parts we need impromptu like. 

 

That's the argument I made on hackaday, they have stuff I would buy cause its close enough to what I want to do the job, but its all web only, so why would I pay a premium to get close enough when I can get exactly what I want cheaper from ANYWHERE

 

I find it interesting that they keep trying to push this new rebranded radio shack though, I bet that super bowl commercial cost a boat load of money and what changed in the two stores near me?

 

Jack sh*t nothing! In fact it got worse, nothing is ever in stock, staff is reduced, oh they sell t-shirts now, cell phone selection still blows, and that wall of overpriced china garbage Ipad accessories keeps getting bigger pushing out their 60$ wall wart selection.

 

Like great, you bought the most expensive air time ever, rented alf, fire saled all your inventory to put a new logo on it, and managed to make the store EVEN WORSE, great job guys lol



#20 omegadot OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 5:32 PM

The fact that Radio Shack became a battery and crappy cell phone store, at least in my area, was sad.  I remember having a lot of fun getting bits for electronics projects there with my dad.

 

If they embraced the building maker scene it would be cool.



#21 82-T/A ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 5:36 PM

I bought my first Sound Blaster from there. I bought some game pack that came with F15-Strike Eagle II, DUNE (the CD) and some other game, and a Sound Blaster 2.



#22 Goochman OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 5:42 PM

Actually almost forgot about a very funny story from my last trip to Radio Shack that may also explain the downfall.
 
I go in looking for a couple of caps, resistors, and diodes. It was actually for my SIO2PC project I think about a year and a half ago. The whole time I'm looking around two employees are behind the register farting around on they're phones. When I go to check out he looks at the parts I'm buying and says, "hey! you like some kinda genius or something". I laugh and say "something like that". He goes to his buddy and says, "hey man this is our guy!". He then explains to me how they were just reading a story about how astronomers believe they discovered a planet made completely out of GOLD! So he tells me that if I design and build the space ship he will be the pilot and his buddy will be the navigator, oh and Shawntell, apparently a girl who works in the morning will come along to be our "hoe" during the trip. I told them I'd stop back in with some plans. That is one of the Radio Shacks that now has a for rent sign in  the front window.


If that was the experience i had i would still be going. Bringing in parts of the ship to hear more about their plans :)

Unfortunately i couldnt leave without being harassed about a phone 5 times even though i was buying something simple.

#23 Osgeld OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 5:46 PM

Unfortunately i couldnt leave without being harassed about a phone 5 times even though i was buying something simple.

 

I had an oppsite experiance, they actually hired a nerd at one near me, didnt last long, but I would go in for something simple like a switch or a power connector and it was non stop "arduino, linux, pi, 3d printing, lasers, space, physics" OMG!!!! I ended up buying the wrong switch cause I couldnt even hear my own thoughts



#24 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 5:49 PM

The article says,

"RadioShack has been troubled for some years now, and has registered losses for five straight quarters. Under the leadership of CEO Joseph Magnacca, the company has tried to come back to profitability with its “five pillars strategy,” which includes revamping products and boosting efficiency. These attempts have failed to impress analysts: “We think this has been akin to throwing things against the wall to see what sticks,” said Lasser."

 

"As part of its comeback strategy, the company remodeled 23 stores in the Washington, DC metro area and 21 in the San Francisco Bay area. This is RadioShack’s attempt to counter the annual revenue decline that has persisted since 2011. The company has tried to drastically improve the customer in-store experience via mobile phone repair services, displays for hot products like GoPro Inc’s (GPRO) popular cameras, and demos for headphones. However, the efficacy of the strategy is doubtful. Even if the stores perform well, it will not do for the company’s profitability as a whole, given that it had 5,400 outlets as of the latest quarter."

 

I say,

Five pillars strategy? WTF? That includes revamping products and boosting efficiency.. Hogwash! that's just corporate buzzwords being bandied about.

 

Revamping products, companies and stores do this as a matter of course all the time. No wow factor here.

 

Boosting efficiency? Is that even necessary? The old in-efficient RadioShack did just fine using paper and pens to print receipts. They did fine without JIT restocking.. They were alright without internet advertising. It seems all corporations want to efficiency-themselves-right-out-of-business. Their employees don't make enough money to buy anything. And since they are not buying anything, companies aren't selling anything.. Seems to be the way it's going. Classic Harvard Business School philosophy. It's a psychotic way of thinking.

 

Improving the customer experience:

..via mobile phone repair service? WTF? It isn't likely they're going to be smart enough to fix my old Motorola phone. Star-Tac, bagphone, iPhone, whatever.. Makes no difference. They're not going to have parts, training, or technical prowess to do any kind of repair on anything. They might be able to change a battery or clean the headphone jack or happy horseshit like that. But to do a real repair. I don't think so.

 

..displays for hot products like GoPro? Pffaaghh! Who cares? If I'm gonna buy a GoPro, I'm going to look at the website, then go to YouTube to actually see real videos made by real people. I might ask about it on message forums too.

 

..same shit with those gay-ass $2,000 DSLRs. Ever see panning videos from one of those? They waver and distort all over the place. Had I bought one in the store I might not have noticed it. But by looking at YouTube and other places on the 'net, I not only learned which ones do that (or don't), but why. This is information you won't get in the store. And pocket cameras are on their way out. Slowly but surely. Because your iPhone (or other) will take a better picture overall. And the best camera is the camera you have with you.

 

..displays for headphones? That's a pretty narrow and niche field. While those audiophile junkies might get all hot and bothered about that, I don't. To me there are two kinds of headphones & speakers. The $10 Sony shit you buy at Wal-Mart and the $30,000 Bang & Olufson home theater experience. Insert Harmon Kardon, Klipsch, Bose, or any other brand you can't afford.. I've never seen a headphone boutique anywhere, and headphones aren't going to drag RS into profitability by the ear.

 

This is part of a post I made earlier, but it's worth repeating because it illustrates the kind of service and support you used to get from RS - even as a shit-faced kid.

 

I recall one brisk and blowy autumn day, I got the TRS-80 PC-1 Pocket Computer. I also got a few books to go with it and such. I also got the cassette interface and some tapes and batteries too. The whole package cost around $400 - $425. This "system" afforded me my first serious exposure to BASIC, and I learned the concepts from a book called “Getting Started With TRS-80 BASIC". The big yellow one with an even bigger plastic spiral binding thing. The one with the cartoony Model I computer that would call out important points from time to time and just make antics in general.. But with BASIC being BASIC, much of the basics transferred over to the PC-1. I learned things like line numbering and variables and general program flow. The PRINT and INPUT statements and the +-*/^() math symbols. You know.. As the days turned from fall to winter my skills at programming in BASIC became quite formidable. And I was programming in all my math assignments. The teachers at school didn't know what to make of it all. Some liked it, most didn't.

Well, one day, being a spoiled brat and a snotty kid I threw a tantrum when I spent the entire previous afternoon laboriously hunting-n-pecking in a Lunar Lander game and it didn't work. Somehow, either I made a mistake or the listing had an error - because the LM kept crashing 30 FT above the lunar surface. Boy was I pissed like you wouldn't believe!

I reviewed it over and over got even more frustrated. My mom finally asked my gramma to take me down to the Radio Shack Computer Center in Northbrook and see what the trouble was. Just so I would shut up and do my homework! Because if I didn't get this fixed, there wouldn't be any me-doing-my-homework. Ohh no sir!

Some guy there (a salesman I guess) actually took the time to review what I had typed into the computer. I remember him having spent about an hour or two going through each line and consulting with another programmer there. I don't recall where the error was, in the listing or my typing. But he found it and fixed it! Myself and him made notes so that I could re-type it later if there was an issue with saving and loading from cassette. We tested it right there, on the spot, in the store. And I was elated! It worked!

It was just about winter and the last of the thunderstorms was coming in, it quickly went from rain to snow just in time to cancel school the next day. Because of impending icing. So I stayed up all night with junk food and stuff like that, sometime after watching Battlestar Galactica or a Star Trek re-run I pulled out the PC-1 and got to playing. I played Hi-Lo and days-between-dates and numerology. And I loaded up the Lunar Lander game too. My complaining and tantrum efforts paid off big time.*

I huddled up under the covers with the lights low and flashlight by my side. I played Lunar Lander all night long. Refining my approach and trajectory better and better! Occasionally peeking out to look at my "Map of the Moon" poster from Rand McNally.

It was great, I could imagine Neil Armstrong right beside me telling me "..a little to left" and "ease it down now.. Good good! Engine off!" "Tranquility Base here THE EAGLE HAS LANDED!" Delusions of grandeur permeated the night. And I was a happy camper! I fell asleep to some other sci-fi rerun or something, Salvage-1, or 6 Million Dollar Man.. Maybe even Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. It might have even been something from the console-furniture-sized VHS. And the next day, with school canceled, it was an Atari 2600 & Intellivision day. All day. With another Lunar Mission planned for the evening.

I gotta tell you, days like that are few and far between, when everything just comes together just right.
---

 

* I still have all my notes and a baggie full of printouts and listings and such. Of course including the original PC-1 and tapes and accessories and stuff.

It was great that the salesman consulted with some other guy and between the two of them they got my Lunar Lander game going. And that was just so cool. You will never see service like this in this day and age, not unless you fork over some extra coin. And even then, if it is outside of your prescribed duties, as an employee, said employee probably won't take this kind of time and effort. Not at the consumer level anyways.

That is what was special about the Computer Centers RS ran back in the late 1970's. Fantastic customer support, even for a bratty 9 year old.

Alas, I would continue my efforts on an Apple ][+ and that became my main system with which I learned telecom and modeming and BBS'ing. Not to mention warez. But I did eventually acquire a CoCo and a PC-2 and paraphernalia. I seemed to have permanently associated Radio Shack with Pocket Computers and after the PC-2 came a PC-4. And I still have those as well. I never really went much further with TRS-80 computers. Not because of any dislike or fault with the machine; but more because of warez and BBS’ing, and hardware availability. It seemed like it was easier to acquire hardware for the Apple II than it was for TRS-80. And that hardware was more open to experimentation. And the Apple II hardware was used by more diverse software. For example, Apple-Cat II modem came with Com-Ware. But I had like 10 other terminal packages and then wrote my own. The people I knew back then seemed more interested with experimenting with Apple II stuff as opposed to doing real productive work.


Edited by Keatah, Wed Aug 13, 2014 5:55 PM.


#25 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 13, 2014 6:08 PM

Radio Shack should probably switch to an all-online business, catering specifically to hobbyists.  There may not be enough electronics and robototics enthusiasts in a given geographical area to justify keeping all those expensive retail locations open, but they're a huge worldwide market, and there's still a need for a knowledgeable source of components and supplies.

 

One of the things I liked about Radio Shack back in the 80s is that it was one of the few places to buy electronic components, and more importantly, that the staff was generally knowledgeable and helpful.  I used to hang out at a local Radio Shack store, sometimes bringing in funky old computers and game consoles, and the sales help could actually look them over and tell me what RF modulators and adapters I needed.  If I was having trouble getting something to work, they'd even hook it up to one of their display TVs to test the cables for me.

 

Now that we have many more choices for buying parts, I'd love to see Radio Shack refocus on what they did best, and somehow recapture the one-on-one human interaction that they lost somewhere along the way.  Following and extending the SparkFun model would be a good way to start: SparkFun is an electronics retailer, but they also offer an extensive collection of video tutorials, blogs, project ideas, and other hobbyist-friendly resources.  If Radio Shack can combine that with a discussion forum, staffed with knowledgeable people who can actually answer questions, they'd really have something.

 

In my immediate area of 7,000 residents I might be able to pick out 10 hobbyists. None of them being kids. Worldwide? That's different. Shit, man.. There's always somebody making flashing light projects on YouTube.

 

The staff is not knowledgeable enough to offer in-store help on anything. Why should they? They're not paid enough. And even if they were, the advice would be substandard. Furthermore, connecting "stuff" up in a public store would bring all sorts of liabilities in today's litigious society. Not to mention some imaginary security or safety issue. Baghhh!

 

SparkFun sounds like some high-tech porno room they could set up. After hours, you know?
 






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