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Saturday, July 31, 2010

"Wired" looks at Radio Shack

Art, KG6ZWD, sent this link to me. Looks like Wired magazine has an interesting article about Radio Shack.


I always liked these stores. They were never perfectly aligned with our needs, and they seem to be drifting even further away, but over the years I picked up lots of good gear and needed parts at these stores. Ideas too! I have those "Mini Notebooks" by Forrest Mims. Great stuff!


  1. Anyone visiting this site should be sure to check out the link to radioshackcatalogs.com for a veritable goldmine of knackster entertainment from days gone by. I wonder how many hours it will take me to browse through them all...

  2. Sadly I've never really thought of Rat Shack as that useful of a store. They are convenient every once in a blue moon to avoid having to go to the Internet or across town to find a fuse, pl-259 connector, or replacement wall wart, but for the most part I associate them with trying to push cell phones, sell overpriced monster AV wires, and (most) employees that only know how to sell cell phones and monster cable wires and don't know a thing about anything else. I do remember when I was a kid I loved to look through their catalog, but by the early 90s I felt it lost it's allure.

    I'm a bit younger than the guys that have fond memories of radio shack, but I'd guess most around my age (33) or younger will feel that radio shack could disappear and not miss it a bit.

  3. I'm 38 and have some fond memories of Radio Shack, mostly in the early 1980s, as a pre-teen when I got my first shortwave receiver there (the "DX-100") and used to marvel at the lineup of "more advanced" receivers and radio accessories. But soon after I became a licensed ham, most of the allure had worn off. This accelerated in the 90s and especially post-2000 as fewer parts and more cell phones became the norm.

    Much has been said on the topic of Radio Shack on ham forums over the years about the clueless workers, poor customer service and shoddy products. However, what Bill and others say is very true, it is quite nice to be able to drive a couple blocks to pick up some needed part to finish a project on a Sunday night. So on that level, I feel compelled to support the rat shack. But with shrinking inventory of parts, there is just less that I need from them these days.

  4. I don't get it. What market do the RadioShack execs think they are going to reach? If I want a cellphone or a quality accessory I'd go to one of my carrier's stores. If I want something cheap I'd go to eBay or one of those little nameless mall kiosks. I understand that just about everyone has a cellphone these days but what role do they think Radioshack is going to play in that market?

    Not to mention... they are partnered with Sprint. I suppose it's a race between Sprint and TMobile to see who will be gone first but they are both going to cross that finish line before long. Talk about dead weight!

    Meanwhile, we are still here, still building things. I can see how hobbyist radio electronics might be a little niche for such a large chain but how about the Makers? I'm picturing something that looks like sparkfun.com combined with makerbot.com, adafruit.com and a selection of discrete components (for us). Only... on shelves. No shipping fees! No waiting weeks for a new toy to arrive!

    I don't think that would support a chain as large as RadioShack... their stores are Everywhere! But why is that? Does there need to be 3 or more within a short drive of almost anywhere in the US? I know of 4 near me and I don't even know for sure that is all of them!

    I think RadioShack's problem is that they grew way too big. It's not that their old market is gone, they just inflated with the CB bubble hot air and have been trying to stay large ever since. Cellphones aren't going to save them. They are going to limp by until Sprint dies and then they will die with them. They need to shrink, weed out the stores which are too close to one another and then come back to their original market...


  5. As an 80's Shack junkie, I can credit the store for my love of computers and electronics. Also, while working there years ago I first met a ham radio operator who piqued my curiosity. I owe my current profession as a Broadcast Engineer to that.

    That being said, they have gone WAY down hill and almost appeared to be turning into a mere cell phone store.

    I was pleased to stop in last week and find over twice the amount of parts carried than they had just a year ago. Nothing compared to the 80's, but maybe a small amount of progress.



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