×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

RadioShack To Close 1,100 Stores

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the too-weak-to-ask-for-your-zip-code dept.

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 RadioShack has also publicly admitted its current stores are out of date and in need of a massive overhaul.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

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

RadioShack's business model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398553)

Well, what ELSE would they do other than pay high school dropouts to sell cell phones?
 
Close 1100 stores, claim that you have a quarterly "profit," and grab the golden parachute for the next exec to take over!

Re:RadioShack's business model (5, Funny)

stevemoink (134725) | about 10 months ago | (#46398825)

I'll have you know, sir, that my brother-in-law is a COLLEGE dropout selling cell phones at radioshack!

Our Motto (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46399257)

You have questions, we have blank stares....

Re:RadioShack's business model (0)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 10 months ago | (#46399113)

Welcome to the corporate world. Please take a complementary parachute before boarding the corporation.

RadioShack's business model: overpriced crap (4, Informative)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 10 months ago | (#46399215)

As far as I'm concerned, Radio Shack's business model has long been to sell overpriced but inferior merchandise. In many areas it is the only place one can physically go to by some electronic parts, so it does get some traffic even from people who are reluctant to buy from them. If they were to go on-line only, I expect that they would soon be out of business completely, a result that I would not feel bad about because just maybe someone else might try to fill the void.

Even the simplest things bought from RS seem to be plagued with defects. I've bought cables from them and found them intermittent and once I bought a simple 2 to 1 telephone jack and, when my phone wouldn't dial when connected through it, I found it was wired wrong. Their electronic component "substitutes" are frequently improperly spec'ed. And as to price, I recently saw a Raspberry Pi kit in Radio Shack, it was priced well over $100.

May these stores just be the first, I'll be glad to see them all go.

No specifics on locations (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398563)

The number of jobs that will be lost in the store closings was not disclosed, nor were the locations.

No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly'... (5, Interesting)

raydobbs (99133) | about 10 months ago | (#46398579)

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.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 10 months ago | (#46398631)

"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.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#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.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (4, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 10 months ago | (#46399271)

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.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 10 months ago | (#46399117)

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.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about 10 months ago | (#46399149)

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.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (1)

GESWho (1618355) | about 10 months ago | (#46398669)

They also need to hire people who actually understand the hobbyist side of electronics. Most of the young kids in there these days know how to tweet and use their little mobile pre-built gadgets, but have no idea what a resistor is and how it works. And they don't have the inclination to learn it either. Everytime they ask "Can I help you" I respond "I seriously doubt it. I'll find it myself."

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398771)

Everytime they ask "Can I help you" I respond "I seriously doubt it. I'll find it myself."

2edgy4me. Do you shift your fedora when you say that?

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398809)

They seem to want to focus more on the cell phone end of things though. I was in a Radio Shack a month ago, and 3/4 of the store was phones and phone cases and cables and crap it seemed. What they had for actual connectors and tools was poor and expensive...

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (1)

rnturn (11092) | about 10 months ago | (#46399261)

Hear, hear. Every switch I've ever bought at Radio Trash has had the plated connectors corrode in no time making them useless. Their other components are too expensive to even consider unless it's an emergency (though it's been a long, long time since I've had an emergency that required me running out for resistors, capacitors, etc.). To be fair to RS, they do, or at least did, sell audio/video cabling that were priced far less than the ridiculous prices that the local Best Buy was charging for the Monster brand -- the only kind they were selling at the time. (If memory serves, BB once wanted to charge me $10/foot or more for Monster cables.) On the other hand, I walked out of the local Radio Trash in disgust while looking for a replacement USB cable for my daughter's MP3 player. For the price they were asking I could have very nearly bought her a brand new player which, of course, would have included the cable.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 10 months ago | (#46398811)

Do you know how a resistor works?

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 10 months ago | (#46399169)

No, that's why he needs someone in Radio Shack to help him.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46399251)

Do YOU know how a resistor works???

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398943)

"I seriously doubt it. I'll find it myself."

Wow, Mr. Neckbeard, you sound like the life of the party. How about you drop the superior attitude and apply for a job there if you know so much? Or will that take time away from playing EVE Online?

But of course you won't do that. Have fun with your ham radio you fucking nerd.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (2)

jones_supa (887896) | about 10 months ago | (#46399181)

"I seriously doubt it. I'll find it myself."

That has to be spoken with the Comic Book Guy voice.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 10 months ago | (#46399329)

Give 'em a chance. Just rattle through what you want and why, so you can see the dumb look on their face. :) Sometimes you can hear the audible "WOOSH", without them saying anything. It's quite amazing.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398695)

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.

They don't have to _beat_ (say, Amazon) on price. Consider randomly chosen nuvi 2797LMT GPS.

299.99 at Radioshack

269.99 at BestBuy

256.49 at Amazon

You know a store is in trouble if they cannot even compete with BestBuy (which is usually overpriced too)

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398839)

Some of the francise stores are more like what Radio Shack used to be as far as targeted toward hobbyists and/or electronics gadgets, though I haven't found one in years with employees who were knowledgible about their hobbist stock. The main thing that has ruined Radio Shack for me over the past decade is that the employees are more interested selling cell phones and batteries than anything else in the store. What once would have been a 10 minute jaunt to go grab something basic (solder, connectors, bread board, etc) has become a 30-40 minute frustration as you wait behind someone getting a new cell phone.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398841)

There are not enough people in the U.S. who would use an electronics hobbyist shop like that. Certainly not enough to support 5000 stores. Maybe 1 store per 250,000 people. And on that front they are competing against Frys and Microcenter, both of whom have more space dedicated to electronic hobbyist stuff in their stores than all the space in a typical RS store. If they had a section for breadboard/through-hole parts and a section for surface mount parts, I'd go to them more than I do now.

Re: No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46399081)

And where, pray tell, is this mythical Fry's store near Miami, Orlando, Tampa, or Jacksonville... let alone West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Naples/Ft. Myers, Sarasota/Bradenton, Brandon, Lakeland, Ocala/Gainesville, Daytona/Titusville, Tallahassee, Pensacola, Ft. Pierce/Port St. Lucie, or the other areas with at least a quarter-million people within 25 miles? We *should* have Fry's... but unfortunately, we don't.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (5, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 10 months ago | (#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.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (1)

Soulskill (1459) | about 10 months ago | (#46399265)

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 execs/investors to do so, because it's a smaller market overall. Like most failing retailers, they want to turn it around around and start growing -- mere stabilization and acceptance of lower revenue is an admission of failure, in their eyes.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 10 months ago | (#46399029)

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...

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (1)

xQuarkDS9x (646166) | about 10 months ago | (#46399267)

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 focus is more on accessories for cell phones, followed by TV's, then a smaller section for computers and small sections on the walls for all the various little items. I remember radio shack used to have a hell of a lot more for converting or adapting darn near anything.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (1)

CaptainLard (1902452) | about 10 months ago | (#46399125)

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....

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (1)

RudyHartmann (1032120) | about 10 months ago | (#46399141)

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 to selling leather.

Re:No place for 'almost', 'not quite' and 'nearly' (5, Insightful)

Princeofcups (150855) | about 10 months ago | (#46399299)

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.

Sucks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398587)

Frost post from a Tandy 1000

Re:Sucks (1)

o_ferguson (836655) | about 10 months ago | (#46398893)

Good point. They should give up on this "electronics" malarkey and go back to being Tandy Leather. Everyone needs leather.

Let it die. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398593)

Let it die. Please.

Stop putting their name on everything (4, Insightful)

geek (5680) | about 10 months ago | (#46398599)

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.

Re:Stop putting their name on everything (1)

used2win32 (531824) | about 10 months ago | (#46398789)

I totally agree and feel the exact same way. I hated those large "REALISTIC" labels as much as I hate the dealer labels.

Re:Stop putting their name on everything (2)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 10 months ago | (#46398863)

So do you take a razor to the LG and Sony labels too on your other electronic devices as well?

Re:Stop putting their name on everything (1)

geek (5680) | about 10 months ago | (#46398889)

If I can I do. But at least in that case LG and Sony actually made the fucking device. I don't Best Buy written all over it too any more than I want Verizon written on, nut then again, at least they are providing the service.

If RadioShack wants to advertise on MY device after I bought it then I want compensation for that.

Re:Stop putting their name on everything (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398791)

Glad I'm not the only one that makes them remove their damn logo feces off the car I want to buy. Luckily I've never had to have paint work -- seriously wouldn't buy the car if that was what was required. After market paint isn't as good a factory baked on (literally) paint.

Re:Stop putting their name on everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398843)

That car thing is exactly what i would do too. There's no way i'll pay a penny for a dealer logo. Unless they remove it, i'll charge for it, and it's not going to be cheap. And fuck the stickers on laptops too.

And (4, Insightful)

The Cat (19816) | about 10 months ago | (#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 (5, Funny)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 10 months ago | (#46398737)

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?

Re:And (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46399243)

He just got fired from CNN. Looks like you'll be getting him back.

RIP for a slow death (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398615)

Radio Shack reached it's geek peak probably in the late 70's. I remember as a kid pushing the orange button on a Model 1 and hearing those 8" drives clack.

Re:RIP for a slow death (-1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 10 months ago | (#46398821)

8'' drives? Your memory is failing old man.

Re:RIP for a slow death (2)

janeuner (815461) | about 10 months ago | (#46398891)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org]

Get off my lawn, noob.

Re:RIP for a slow death (1)

Spazmania (174582) | about 10 months ago | (#46399091)

No, his memory is failing. The Trash-80 had a cassette tape with a 5.25" drive as an option. 8 inch drives never made it to consumer use. They were only for the big computers of the day. Things like newspaper typesetting machines.

Re:RIP for a slow death (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 10 months ago | (#46399119)

Not on a TRS-80 Model 1. Very very uncommon at least.

Re:RIP for a slow death (2)

Tempest_2084 (605915) | about 10 months ago | (#46399011)

Actually I believe it was the Model II that had the 8" drives. The model 1 used regular 5.25" drives.

Radioshack's main problem... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398619)

has been that it doesn't get enough hobbyist parts and charges too much for them. Part of the problem is that most of their stores have moved inside of malls, which require extra fees to maintain a presence within. The bulk of the problem appears that their leadership is out of touch with the quickly changing reality over the past few years. They're like Sears Robuck: they set a goal and intend for it be stuck to for years, like they were able to do back in the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's, before the internet came along and they could get away with it. It's been a good 2 decades since the internet took a foothold and it's sad that they haven't managed to keep up with it. This is the price that they are paying for not seeing the big picture. Radio Shack used to be an awesome place to go to get any small electronic component at a somewhat decent price. Inflation hasn't helped their business model, either.

Re:Radioshack's main problem... (3, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 10 months ago | (#46399099)

The problem is "inventory is expensive". For a store to have a cabinet full of resistors and switches, they have to buy them from the manufacturer, put them in little plastic bags, then send them out. Let's say that parts cabinet cost the store $2000. The store has now lost money until 100 hobbyists have shown up and each bought $20 worth of stuff from it. With as few hobbyist customers as they see, that could be two or more years away. That makes buying it a risky proposition. Then figure that Radio Shack HQ makes every store buy one: that's perhaps $10,000,000 investment that won't break even for two years.

They can't just carry the 3 most popular resistors, either, as their customers have varied needs and require a broad selection. People who buy resistors also buy LEDs, transistors, capacitors, wires, solder, breadboards, etc. So if they're going to carry components, they have to have enough so that they can meet reasonable requests. If they are missing a single essential part, the customer is likely to abandon their entire basket, then go on line to Digikey or Mouser.

Re:Radioshack's main problem... (1)

eclectro (227083) | about 10 months ago | (#46399297)

Let's not forget that in the same time frame electronics has fundamentally changed to an enterprise that is largely disposable. The days of through hole electronics has pretty much ended and gone the way of vacuum tubes, in exchange for customized and unique semiconductors.

Radio Shack has lost their main demographic because they wanted to sell their soul to the cell phone business. Really a good example of looking for short term gains that come at the sacrifice of long term ones.

Re:Radioshack's main problem... (1)

Spazmania (174582) | about 10 months ago | (#46399327)

They don't have to do it at a reasonable price just as long as they can do it NOW and, for expensive parts, I can return it if it's defective or the wrong one.

That's the secret to Best Buy's success. You can always beat the price, usually by a lot, if you're willing to wait a couple days and have a return hassle if there's a problem.

As another poster noted, if I have to wait for any part of my project then I'll order it all online and wait.

Radioshack is too small for its hobbyist demographic. They can't carry enough stuff. With arduino and its ilk, and the rise of the new maker demographic, the required selection of parts has greatly expanded.

The mall locations are killing them too: the hobbyist shopper is a destination shopper not a walk-in. Having the store in a mall adds cost and limits space with no up side.

They won't be able to sustain cell phone sales in a mall either, not in direct competition with the apple store, the verizon store, etc.

It Comes Down to Price and Convenience (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 10 months ago | (#46398625)

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?

Re:It Comes Down to Price and Convenience (5, Insightful)

slapout (93640) | about 10 months ago | (#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.

Poor service, high prices, unfocused strategy (2)

sjbe (173966) | about 10 months ago | (#46398855)

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.

Electron Hobbyist store. (2)

Dak_Peoples (591544) | about 10 months ago | (#46398645)

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?

Re:Electron Hobbyist store. (2)

WillAdams (45638) | about 10 months ago | (#46398751)

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 use at a price I'm willing to pay (and I've been willing to be gouged by Lowes and Home Depot on metric washers and aluminum spacers).

Re:Electron Hobbyist store. (2, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 10 months ago | (#46398779)

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.

Re:Electron Hobbyist store. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 10 months ago | (#46399279)

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.

Re:Electron Hobbyist store. (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about 10 months ago | (#46398871)

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 meet the minimum manufacturer specs when I buy from them which I rarely do unless it is for convenience (like I need it NOW and I can stand subpar components.) They sell *some* stuff I could use, but you do better on E-Bay for hardware, audio connectors, cables and generally anything RS has in stock.

This whole idea needs to die like the frizzy hair of the 90's. In fact, I believe it is already dead, they just don't know it yet.

Stop Being Something Your Not (5, Insightful)

brian haskins (3451617) | about 10 months ago | (#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.

Re:Stop Being Something Your Not (3, Interesting)

DeTech (2589785) | about 10 months ago | (#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.

Re:Stop Being Something Your Not (1)

plover (150551) | about 10 months ago | (#46399317)

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 right independents, but the message isn't always getting through, and apparently the money still isn't pouring in. I think they've demonstrated that hobbyist demand just isn't self-sustaining for brick-and-mortar stores.

Re:Stop Being Something Your Not (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398929)

They pay their staff minimum wage, thus have a high turnover in employees. No decent hacker wants minimum wage. They lost salespeople who earned commisions on each phone sale. Alas, my favorite store is doomed. Tho, thumbdrives there are reasonably priced..

Re:Stop Being Something Your Not (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398953)

Where are they supposed to find people who both are knowledgeable enough to build custom electronics and willing to take a (presumably) low-paying retail job in a strip-mall Radioshack? They may be able to find a few, but far from enough to actually staff their stores...

Re:Stop Being Something Your Not (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 10 months ago | (#46399035)

. 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.

But its just not going to be a huge money maker I don't think.

The ridiculously high margin cables, consumer electronics (phones, alarm clocks, junk) is where they make any money... but no self-respecting 'hacker' is interested in that, and they are facing increased online competition for that now too, and they along with bigbox electronics (bestbuy etc) are all suffering for it.

Re:Stop Being Something Your Not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46399075)

I think, all things being equal, bringing in the knowledgable people you suggest would make Radio Shack successful again.

The difference is that back in the late 70's early 80's, this sort of guy/gal probably wanted to work at Radio Shack. Now, he is probably utilizing his skills to earn what he really is worth, as a computer scientist, computer engineer, or software engineer. Radio Shack can't pay the kind of money these people want anymore, not while being price competitive with the major online retailers. I hate to say it, but Radio Shack (as you and I fondly remember) is probably gone forever.

They have no focused strategy (5, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | about 10 months ago | (#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.

Re:They have no focused strategy (2)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 10 months ago | (#46398969)

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.

Re:They have no focused strategy (1)

geek (5680) | about 10 months ago | (#46399079)

Sounds like they are ripe to be bought. I could see these as Google or Samsung storefronts easily. Apple store competition overnight.

Re:They have no focused strategy (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 10 months ago | (#46399295)

Sounds like they are ripe to be bought.

Could be but it's quite the fixer upper. I could see a private equity company buying it, slashing costs and then selling it. Maybe. Maybe they just liquidate it and sell the brand name. Really the only thing worth saving in my opinion.

I could see these as Google or Samsung storefronts easily. Apple store competition overnight.

Too many locations with too little traffic. Google is an advertising company, not a retailer. They really aren't set up to compete in that sort of space. Samsung already has highly effective distribution channels so I can't really see why they'd want way to many stores with expensive rent. Apple stores work for Apple but that doesn't mean it is the right strategy for Apple's competitors. You don't beat Apple by trying to be Apple. You beat them by doing something else.

A victim of their own pricing. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#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?

Re:A victim of their own pricing. (1)

vettemph (540399) | about 10 months ago | (#46399059)

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.

Re:A victim of their own pricing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46399325)

Just borrow the crimper. All you need to do is leave a $40 deposit, when you return it with the original packaging they give you the deposit back.

Poor management (4, Informative)

slapout (93640) | about 10 months ago | (#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.

Re:Poor management (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46399157)

They had a shot in the early 90s of pulling it off. They missed it.

They instead went down a road of trying to be circuit city and best buy at the same time. Completely missing what their name meant. They ignored what they were to try to be a boutique. You can do that. But you need to actually carry boutique items people want to buy.

I knew they were doomed in the early 90s when I went into a new store asking for where their speaker wire rolls were. The poor guy had no idea what I wanted. "your radio shack right?"

They always were overpriced for what they sold. *always*. Their best part was they usually had that crazy part in stock. Once that died. They had nothing left except to sell repackaged RMA's. My aunt who worked for NEC called them the NEC RMA store. I asked her about that remark "we repack all of our RMA's then send it off to radio shack to see if they can dump it". I never bought there again.

They could have been Fry's but instead tried to be best buy. If they want to stick around do what fry's does. The hobbyist market moved on to computers. They tried to sell cell phones. That computer window is closing too. As more and more people move to 1 piece kit.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398819)

"a continuous slide in sales down a steep slope in the area of mobile device sales"

Mmmm... okay...

What's that in English?

Re:Huh? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 10 months ago | (#46399103)

They're selling a lot fewer cell phones than they used to.

Micro Center is better (2)

gemtech (645045) | about 10 months ago | (#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.

not even themisters! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398919)

went in there reciently to get a part. any thermister. didn't care the specs. even would have torn one out of something. not one in the store. lets stock basic sensors!

Oblig Onion article (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46398923)

http://www.theonion.com/articles/even-ceo-cant-figure-out-how-radioshack-still-in-b,2190/

I started liking Radio Shack again (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 10 months ago | (#46398961)

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 from retail.

By contrast, our local electronics and hobby shops continue to sell LEDs, radio antennas, and vacuum tubes -- but the staff have never heard of an Arduino and would never sell a finished good like a rocket or RC car.

Yawn did not see it (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 10 months ago | (#46398983)

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)

Two times recently RS didn't have cables I needed (1)

sottitron (923868) | about 10 months ago | (#46399015)

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 movement, I would think they would sell Arduinios and Raspberry Pi boards. I would also think I could go in there and get a small selection of hardware (motherboards, CPUs, Video Cards), but again, I don't think they have stock like this...

They wouldn't hire me (5, Interesting)

Deputy Doodah (745441) | about 10 months ago | (#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.

Hobby store with too much overhead (1)

un4given (114183) | about 10 months ago | (#46399067)

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 sustain business selling $.99 parts and Raspberry PI's. I hope I'm wrong, but I just don't see them being able to pull out of this.

Sad decline (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 10 months ago | (#46399111)

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 short aisles; the rest of the stuff was toys, gadgets, and batteries you can get literally anywhere.

This happens to a lot of industries; including TV channels. One exec sees someone pulling 20% returns on X and decides to incorporate that into their business model while dropping product Y. After a while, they do it so much they just lose their identity.

A better headline... (4, Interesting)

Digital Vomit (891734) | about 10 months ago | (#46399121)

I think a better headline would have been "Radio Shack still has at least 1,100 stores".

Unnecessary since Digi-Key dropped their minimum. (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 10 months ago | (#46399163)

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.

Become 21st Century Hardware store? (1)

zerosomething (1353609) | about 10 months ago | (#46399165)

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 suspect the market just isn't there to cater to the couple of dozen of us in town that would benefit from the kind of shop I'd like to see. The local electronics component shop really only sells to businesses, they tried to open 8-12 Saturdays but not enough people came in to pay the light bill much less the tiny hourly rate they pay the counter people. I love the options online but it's just not convenient.

Old, and mean, but still funny (2)

sootman (158191) | about 10 months ago | (#46399167)

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]

Monoprice should buy them (1)

Voyager529 (1363959) | about 10 months ago | (#46399179)

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 merchandise around.

3.) Monoprice may not sell capacitors and resistors, but their merchandise has a better overlap with Radioshack than basically anyone else who would buy the retail space.

4.) With retail space, Monoprice can beat Amazon at their own game - carry the iPhone chargers and HDMI cables and 3.5mm aux cables and basic home routers and security cameras in huge quantities to make the money from the masses, and then for the oddball request for a SAS/SATA breakout cable, buyers get $1.99 overnight shipping to any Monoprice store.

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

Re:Monoprice should buy them (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 10 months ago | (#46399287)

Actually, I can usually find HDMI cables at one of the local remaindering stores such as Five-Below, Ollie's Bargain Outlet, or Big Lots.

And they just had that Superbowl commercial (1)

hubie (108345) | about 10 months ago | (#46399207)

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 electronic components cabinet with the same measly selection of capacitors. It was disappointing because I used to enjoy going there in the 70's through 90's (except when they used to hound you for your address every time you wanted to buy a stupid fucking watch battery). I think I still have my battery club membership card stuck in a drawer somewhere.

Good riddance (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | about 10 months ago | (#46399245)

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.

Be like an auto parts store (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46399263)

Hobbyist components aren't consumer items. Selling them in consumer packaging in a consumer store doesn't work.

Set the stores up like auto parts or appliance repair stores. Lots of shelves in the back, a couple guys with computers up front. You tell them what you want, they go back and get it for you. They maintain the parts bins, no kids moving stuff around, no bent leads.

Also allow online orders then you go pick up your package with 16 different resistors, 4 connectors and 20 LEDs all in a bag ready to go.

You don't want these in malls or consumer strip centers, they can be in low rent districts. Hobbyists are more at home there anyway. And (broad stereotyping alert) women won't go in them wherever they are.

Kind of like Digi-key with local pickup.

Simple fix to their issues. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46399275)

There is a very simple solution to their problems. Their sales have tanked because they are now nothing more than a glorified cell phone and toy store. If they would actually go back to selling electronics components and the other items that made them famous, people *might* return. There was a time when they made one of the best 2 meter handhelds on the market. Cleanest signal, ease of use ... Then they decided to jump on the cell phone band wagon and they were off to the races to see how fast they could become THE cell phone store. Every time I go in there, the sales associate will try to sell me a new phone or some kind of phone gadget.
At one point I applied for a position as a sales associate. I made it through their psych test with an excellent rating indicating that I was a perfect candidate. Where I went wrong was on the 2nd interview when the regional manager was asking me about upselling etc. I told him that I would not try to sell someone something that they didn't need just because it made the store more money. I didn't get the job.
If they would jump off of the cell phone band wagon and actually stock electronic components and quit trying to make people buy things they don't need or want, they might stand a chance.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?