Yves here. Be sure to read the linked story if you want to learn more about the demise and possible resurrection of RadioShack stores.
By John Cog
It looks like the bankruptcy of RadioShack has actually been good for independently-owned stores, who are now able to open in new locations partly by focusing on the DIY/maker movement (or young robotics enthusiasts). One store owner admits that on some supplies they’re actually getting cheaper prices than they got from RadioShack, while another points out that RadioShack’s bankruptcy has finally removed restrictions on where they could be located. (“The corporate store had all of the big towns… Now they’ve encouraged the ma and pop stores to take over in those areas.”)
But best of all, RadioShack’s bankruptcy has made them all come together into a community that shares information on what their customers need. “It’s pulled the dealers together…” says Vern Murray. “They share experiences, products, happy moments, sad moments. There’s way more of that now than there ever was before the bankruptcy.” After 20 years of running a RadioShack in Blackfoot, Idaho, he believes they’ve finally come full circle. “Now we’re back at what started RadioShack: smaller transactions, back to the core product, what RadioShack was invented for…”
I personally still have fond memories of that metal-detector kit I’d bought with my allowance at a RadioShack back in 1977. But those were days when a 28-year-old Bill Gates wrote the code for the TRS-80, which in retrospect apparently marked the moment when the corporate executives decided to abandon hobbyists to push big-ticket items, leading RadioShack into a doomed competition with big-box stores. (I’m really glad this article included those vintage RadioShack commercials which acknowledge their heyday, like the poignant Super Bowl ad which begins “The ’80s called. They want their store back” and the one where Alf finally turns in his clunky “cordless” phone.)
These locally-owned RadioShack stores now actually hope to compete with Amazon, which has sucked up 90% of the growth in all consumer electronics sales, by offering personal (and in-person) customer service on electronics. “The world will always need somebody that will help them with a question…” Vern says philosophically. “I don’t think anybody will ever get rich off it again — I think those days are gone. But I think there will always be a spot for someone who can solder a wire or just answer a question, put a battery in a cordless phone for somebody who’s elderly, a battery for a key fob in a car…”