A change on main street


What’s this? Workmen changing the front of one of the stores downtown?

They’re tearing down the Radio Shack sign. I misspent many hours in my youth hanging around in Radio Shacks, so I find this sentimentally distressing.

Comments

  1. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    The very first electronic project I built, a Theramin, had only one part I couldn’t get at Radio Shack. The next was entirely sourced there, and many after that.

    For my last two ideas I spent hours filling up ‘carts’ on-line with as many as three different companies and ended up never clicking through to purchase. It all seems too complex and disjointed, like the project is doomed from the start because of the complexity of getting the materials. Not rational I know, but there it is. I’m pretty sure that I’d have followed through on those two ideas if I could go into a store and throw things in an actual basket.

    In other news: Get offa my lawn! My lawn, my ball! Why in my day….

  2. xmp999 says

    I dabbled a lot with electronics in my youth. Whatever components I couldn’t salvage from old TVs and radios, I got from Radio Shack. I miss that old nerd store…

  3. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Went in to the local RS store a month ago looking for a new weather station as my old one failed. There wasn’t much in stock (no weather station), but I did buy a small digital multimeter for a low price. Got the weather station on-line. Another long time store that I shopped at regularly gone.

  4. says

    For me the demise of RS began a number of years ago when they demanded my name and address when all I wanted to do was to buy a couple of AA cells. After a brief (and unnecessarily heated) exchange with the counter man, I simply dropped a dollar on the counter and left. Never went back.

  5. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    I too spent (literally, ie real money) my youth at Radio Shack, also as a “lurker”, chatting with the adult hobbyists about how to do various stuff.
    Then Radio Shack introduced their PC, the TRS-80 which was quickly dubbed “Trash-80” by all who worked with one. *yuk*. I even rote my undergrad thesis (for a BS ironically) on one, continually struggling with it. That device shredded my R-S loyalty.
    Still sad to see them evaporate into the ether.

  6. Moggie says

    The Simpsons, Treehouse of Horror VII:

    Homer: We’ll search out every place a sick, twisted, solitary misfit might run to.
    Lisa: I’ll start with Radio Shack!

    That got a guilty laugh from both my brother and me.

  7. says

    Once upon a time I was looking for a microphone. I went to Best Buy. I asked an employee. They said they didn’t have ’em, maybe try Radioshack.
    Seriously.
    Radioshack did have microphones.
    I’m pretty sure Best Buy is the company that should be collapsing. At least the physical stores probably should be, they only seem to stock garbage…

  8. says

    What I remember about the introduction of Radio Shack agents to my home town was my first taste of excessive packaging and quantity. As a poor junior I was used to being able to buy one of anything, resistor, diode, whatever, served by the lackey who pulled out little clear plastic drawers behind the counter. On the other hand the Radio Shack agents had little bubble packs with three, six or seven of what you wanted one of. I only bought stuff off them when they went broke and all the packets went into the throwout basket.Fortunately we still have one or two decent independent electronics shops to feed my diminished taste for shiny little components.

  9. bryanfeir says

    Of course, Radio Shack ‘died’ in Canada a few years back.

    Basically, Radio Shack outside of the U.S. was run by InterTan, a subdivision of Tandy that later got spun off into a separate company (headquartered in Barrie, Ontario of all places). InterTan had a licence to continue using the Radio Shack name as long as they didn’t compete with Radio Shack in the U.S.

    Enter Circuit City; in an attempt to expand outside the U.S. and stave off their gradual collapse, they decided to buy InterTan and thus gain immediate access to all Radio Shack stores in Canada, which had been turning a profit. (Unlike Circuit City in the U.S.)

    At which point Tandy steps up, points out that the licence to use the Radio Shack name depended on not competing with Radio Shack in the U.S., and Circuit City did compete with Radio Shack in the U.S. Thus, the licence to use the name was revoked. Oh, and we’ll give you a year to change the name and re-brand all the stores before coming over with the lawyers.

    Over the next year, all Radio Shack stores in Canada became ‘The Source (by Circuit City)’.

    Then Circuit City collapsed because while the Canadian side was still making a profit, despite all the money that had to be spent on re-branding, it wasn’t making enough of a profit to fill in the hole that the U.S. side was continuing to dig.

    ‘The Source’ (no longer by Circuit City) stores are now owned by the parent company of Bell Canada, which explains why they only sell Bell cellphones rather than Rogers cellphones like they used to.

    That said, The Source still exists here, and some of them do still sell hobbyist stuff, though that’s an unfortunately diminishing breed.

  10. kaleberg says

    For hobbyists, Radio Shack fell too far behind the curve too fast. They had some basic stuff, but so many hobbyists now build projects with little computers at the heart: Arduinos, PICs, LilyPads, Raspberry Pis. Radio Shack was stuck in the radio and television era, but no you are more likely to want a Wifi or XBee card. Sure, hobbyists still need resistors, wires and capacitors, but if you had to order a sewable processor online, you might as well throw a few small components into the cart with the conducting thread.

    I got the impression that Radio Shack, in its latter days, was basically a cell phone store. I don’t really understand how this works, but cell phone stores seem to be massively profitable. They occupy prime locations. They have lots of people working in them. They sell a handful of accessories and phones. The real money maker seems to be cell phone contracts. Maybe it’s like magazine subscriptions used to be with the entire industry structured around the high cost of gaining a customer. Even if they lost money on each issue they sold, they’d make up for it on the volume.

    I still have memories, but it’s like Edmund’s Scientific. They are just memories, though I still have my tank periscope prism from Edmund’s. Some day I’ll use it in a project. Maybe I’ll build a tank.

  11. madtom1999 says

    I’ve been into electronics since I was small but once I found ‘proper’ electronics stores never went to places like RS as they seemed to charge 10 times the price for things that could be bought in small bulks (?) from source and it was often worth buying 100 resistors of one value and finding like minded nerds to share the cost with. With the recent things like Arduino and Raspberry Pi the urge for people to rip kids off for small items has seen a resurgence. I am trying to get involved with our local ‘maker space’ groups to see if we can once again bulk buy items as it seems silly to have a pi zero w for £10 and the printed circuit board and parts for a small amplifier with less than a millionth of the components for twice that.

  12. Kevin Karplus says

    Our Radio Shack closed in the last couple of months also.

    I bought a little in Radio Shack as a kid, but not much even then. Edmund Scientific had better stuff, and neither was within a reasonable distance. Radio Shack gave up on hobbyist customers about the same time they changed their logo to look more like “Radio Snack”, and I stopped shopping there, except for a few consumer electronics things. They never had the components I needed and their prices were astronomical.

    Nowadays, I get most of my electronic components from DigiKey, with occasional diversions to Mouser, Jameco, Ali Express, and various Chinese PCB houses. There is still one electronics store in town (Santa Cruz Electronics), and I do sometimes buy stuff there, though they are on the far side of town where I rarely go, so that it takes a bit of an expedition to get there by bike. I have to be really motivated to need something right now (and not the 3-4 days it takes to get it from DigiKey) to go there.

Leave a Reply