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RadioShack Trying To Return To Its DIY Roots

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the ghost-of-christmas-past dept.

Businesses 413

An anonymous reader writes "In what seems to be a desperate attempt to keep the company afloat, RadioShack has made a video appeal to the DIY community that helped the retail chain grow into what it is today. The days of amateur radio operators and tinkerers flocking to the store are long gone, but it seems that the company wants to issue a mea culpa and move forward."

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You mean that cell phone store? (5, Insightful)

Dwedit (232252) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270756)

You mean that store that sells Cell Phone plans and accessories, and doesn't sell any electronic components?

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (1)

kcbnac (854015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270784)

The one here in Elk River, MN does...last time I wandered in there, anyway. Asked the sales guy about it, says he sees about 1/3 of the store's sales out of that corner...

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (1)

Rizimar (1986164) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270938)

I've been to several Radio Shack stores in the Twin Cities and they all sell electronics parts. Though, the inventory isn't always quite the same depending on the store. For example, there's one in a mall over here that emphasizes cell phones and plans, yet has a few drawers for parts. But other stores outside of regular malls seem to have fewer phones and accessories and more parts in the drawers and hanging on their walls.

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (3, Insightful)

iksbob (947407) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270946)

Your local shack doesn't carry components? Is it in a mall or other high-rent area where space is expensive?
It's not nearly as apparent as it once was, but the local store here has a limited selection of components. Rather than a wall of pegs filled with components on cards as in days of old (the early 90s for me), they're now condensed down to a chest of compartmented drawers.

My main complaint is selection. When I go on Mouser or Digikey, 9 times out of 10 I end up with 50+ nearly identical components matching my search criteria. When I go to radio shack, I find one or two components (if I'm lucky) that share some general characteristic with what I'm looking for, but not enough so to be workable.
Just today I went in there wishfully looking for test leads to hook up to the BNC jacks on my new function generator. They had 5 different flavors of twist-on and 2 flavors of compression connectors for coax, a handful of adapters and a couple of Ts. It all seemed to be geared toward making cables or hooking them up to existing products. I seem to recall seeing a BNC to banana/binding post adapter there at some point in the past, but no such luck now. I ended up leaving with a set of push-release speaker terminals which I'm now working on mounting to my breadboard's backing plate along side a pair of BNC sockets I scrounged off some old attachmate cards. It's for the better I guess... Radio Shack probably would have charged me 5x the price that I found online.

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (3, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271126)

Radio Shacks have been hit or miss. One thing you can do is check the RS web site, do a search and it can usually tell you whether any of the local stores stock something you can use. That way, you're leveraging their local inventory with the internet, you go to the store that has it and get it locally much sooner.

While Radio Shack will never really compete with online warehouses, it does seem like they could do better. I think part of the problem is being a retailer of limited space competing against "long tail" internet sellers. The increasingly high cost of retail frontage isn't helping either, every peg and every tray needs to turn over a certain amount of money per year. $20 cell phone holsters and chargers probably do a better job of that for them than odd $1 electronic components. It does look pretty sad to see a drawer tray with components in old style and, yellowing packages. I find that the local stores are unlikely to have what I need. In some ways, I felt like I was ending up like my own small parts retailer, whenever I order, I'd often buy extras and variations so I'd have them on hand in case I ever needed them.

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (1)

AdamWill (604569) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270982)

the ones that have been rebranded 'The Source by Circuit City' in Canada still sell a modest range of components and miscellaneous useful adapters and cables and so on at decent prices. Nothing like as decent a range as Maplins in the UK, but better than the big box electronics stores.

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36271230)

"the ones that have been rebranded 'The Source by Circuit City' in Canada still sell a modest range of components and miscellaneous useful adapters and cables and so on at decent prices."

Not so IMHO. Last time I went in to get some extra tips for my weller soldering iron, they had the Iron I purchased from them earlier, but neglected to stock replacement tips. To add insult to injury, the only solder they stocked out of that location was something akin to plumbers solder, not the useful kind that's not 1/2 inch thick.

They may now recognize that they lost a good portion of their client base to neglect, but getting it back is going to be tough and tale a lot of work.

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271034)

No kidding. I've been to my local Shack numerous times over the last fer years looking for parts, like enclosures, crossovers, resisters, etc. I always end up driving 30 miles to Fry's. RS sucks now. I have no idea how they stay in business.

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36271058)

Sigh, all you kids need to develop a little sense of cynicism and sarcasm, because that's definitely the spirit in which the original post was posted. Obviously RS still sells components, you just have to walk into any store and dig your way to the very back to see that. The question is though whether that is still a viable business model today, when the hobbyist community consists more of Arduino than ham radio fanatics and analog electronics has kinda fallen by the wayside. Judging by their ever changing model I guess the answer is No.

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271214)

I think while analog electronics and amateur radio are fading (though I think ham is gonna be the last great true geek hobby for some time), I think digital electronics will see an upsurge.

I think the question really is whether it's viable in a brick and mortar model. Very hard to compete with digikey and mouser, especially in areas (like here in Atlantic Canada) with low population density. I'd love to not have to wait a week for that one little $2 component ... but realistically I just don't see it as viable where I live.

More on topic, radio shack here in Canada was always a little more "TVs and Cell Phones" compared to down in the US... but a while ago they were bought out and converted to "The Source". Now all they sell in terms of components are things for high school projects (LEDs, a few switches, some wire). Your chances of finding even a resistor is pretty slim.

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (2, Insightful)

Holi (250190) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271090)

You mean that place that asked for my address to buy batteries?

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36271158)

Mod parent up. Anytime any place asks for excess information, as in more than cash or charge, they can fucking go to hell. In fact, the last time I went into Rad Shack (or at least it once was) and the guy at the register asked for that, I asked to see the manager. I got the assistant manager, and I asked him why the company treated customers like felons. He sighed and said corporate policy. I haven't been back in five years and I used to unload a 2-3 hundred a year there on DIY projects. 15 years ago the internet along with moronic unable-to-adapt corporate suits fated Rad Shack to die of slow starvation. Ashes to ashes.

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271140)

Exactly. When I think of Radio Shack, I think of over-priced electronic trinkets and being annoyed by cell-phone sales attempts every time I buy something and having to dodge the "name, phone number, address, date of birth, mother's maiden name, blood type, dna sample" gathering for every fucking purchase. I don't think I ever bought anything useful there in my entire life.

The only reason I'd ever go to a Radio Shack is the same reason I'd go to a Best Buy - I'm desperate and I need something RIGHT NOW and it can't wait 48hrs for me to order it online and have it shipped to my door.

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271234)

The only reason I'd ever go to a Radio Shack is the same reason I'd go to a Best Buy - I'm desperate and I need something RIGHT NOW and it can't wait 48hrs for me to order it online and have it shipped to my door.

Oh I know that pain. Where I live (Atlantic Canada), you can't get much in less than a week. Nothing like forking out twice as much money for something half as good so you can finish a project over the weekend. It fills me with rage every time I do it :(

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271238)

So - like you don't pick out neighbors you don't like and use their information when you are asked to provide it?

I know the phone number I deliver each time to everyone is attached to someone who really loathes me. :)

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271170)

That commercial is basically asking "How can we make ourselves look like a DIY store without actually a DIY store".
They're so far out of the game that they have to ask outsiders to label the products that might be used for DIY.

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271244)

You mean that store that sells Cell Phone plans and accessories, and doesn't sell any electronic components?

RadioShack - You've got questions, we've got cell phones!

Re:You mean that cell phone store? (1)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271266)

The ones around here do. I bought a couple of LEDs last month to "repair" one of my old electronics kits for the kids.

I don't think the problem is that they didn't... (4, Insightful)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270764)

cater to DIYs.... it's that there *weren't* any.

Make is changing this, of course, but we *all* turned into appliance operators over the last 50 years; no surprise Rat Shack went with the flow...

Re:I don't think the problem is that they didn't.. (2)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270798)

Yeah, but they should have been prescient enough to have maintained an image, moved all of the DIY stuff to online only, pick up in store, etc. etc.

If they still have access to the suppliers and good contract/distribution terms, they could still correct this.

Re:I don't think the problem is that they didn't.. (5, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270894)

There was plenty of DIYs around. Well at least in Canada anyway. But, radioshack got shoved to the dirt when their competitors(usually smaller places with better stock, and cheaper prices) out did them. About 30mins from my hometown there's a major DIY shop that carries just about every thing electrical you need. And what they don't have, they can get within 24-48hrs for you.

Price is another example. Simple 10 pack of 10ohm resistors were $8 at the shack, and $2.49 at another shop. Most of the time, even if you were driving 30mins you saved money. This is all 4-6 years past of course, but radioshack killed itself, by overcharging on everything. I mean really $4 for a red LED? What? I can by them for $0.18/c elsewhere.

Re:I don't think the problem is that they didn't.. (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271112)

As I look, right now, resistors at Radio Shack are selling for $1.19 in packs of 5.

Myself, I bought a giant bag of 1/8 Watt resistors (500 or so of them) from Radio Shack a few years ago, of widely mixed values (and with larger quantities of more common ones, and fewer quantities of less common ones).

IIRC, it wasn't all that expensive. I haven't bought any resistors since -- whatever I need, within reason, I can build out of that stock.

My biggest complaint, these days, is not that they don't have what I want. It's that they do have it, but they've only got one or two of them...and I'll need, say, six.

Re:I don't think the problem is that they didn't.. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271138)

Those prices are a lot higher than I've seen, maybe RS Canada was getting too big for their own good. In my area, it was $1 USD for a 5pk of resistors. A lot, but not nearly as bad as your example. It's good in a pinch, but eventually gets hard to justify when I could get 100pcs. for $1.

Re:I don't think the problem is that they didn't.. (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270898)

There's a local electronics hobby shop in my town. Good for when you need to pick up a particular type of cable or adapter, or some R/L/C component, or whatever, without waiting a week for it to show up from Digikey or Newark. But I'll admit, I have no idea how they're still in business.

Re:I don't think the problem is that they didn't.. (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271154)

Radio Shack needs to change their name to something that more accurately conveys what they really are. Unfortunately, I think "The Place Your Grandmother Shops To Buy You Cheap Electronic Crap Like an Electronic PIggy Bank Or A Really Low End RC Car That Runs On a Pair of AA Batteries On Your Birthday and Christmas" is too long.

lollll.... (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270772)

Can't even buy a 555 timer at RadioShack anymore...can't keep track of time, no wonder too little, too late.

And I'm still pissed off that you couldn't put the 286 in my Tandy 1000TX into protected mode.

Tandy Restoration project. (1)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270920)

All of the 1000 series were XT Class machines. Yes, a majority of them technically had an 80286 CPU. My Tandy 1000 TL has a 9.15 Mhz 80286, but they only have an 8 bit memory bus,. They have no A20 handler. They cannot create an HMA or UMBs. They are basically 286s won an 8086 motherboard. But if your Tandy says it only has 640 K of RAM, it is lying. it eats 128 K as video RAM. So to get a full 640 K of RAM out of it. the board has to have 768 K. Getting more RAM requires an EMS card, I'm currently trying to find one that will fit my case.

I knw this because I just went on an extensive Tandy Restoration project. The Tandy 1000s could take a 16 bit ISA VGA card with the 16 bit part not plugged in. I replaced the Winchester MFM RRL ard drive with an IDE Controller an an IDE to CF adapter so I can use a Compact Flash Drive as a hard drive (and get a whole lot more hard disk space.)

  added an 8 bit Western Digital WD8003 card and an AUI to UTP adapter to get it talking on my network under DOS, using the WATTCP stack with Internet applications and MS LanMan 2.2a with Samba. So yeah, Tandy hardwre is difficult to work with.

Re:Tandy Restoration project. (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270958)

I remember that the $400 I dropped on a 10 MB drive for it was difficult to justify to the ex...so I didn't tell her about the $600 I spent on the EMS card.

lollll...if I'd have known she would soon be the ex, I'd have told her.

Re:Tandy Restoration project. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36271210)

I can understand many retro rebuild projects, but not this one.

WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?

Re:Tandy Restoration project. (2)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271226)

What do you mean why? The Tandy is truly unique among XT Clones with its special sound and video chips.

shut yo' ignoran mouff!! (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270948)

Most stores DO carry the LM555, the one near me does.

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062596 [radioshack.com]

In a hurry, in a pinch, the Radio Shack fixes me up a couple times a month. Not that I like the store, or their prices, but *they there for me, baby!*

Re:shut yo' ignoran mouff!! (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271002)

I wasn't explicit...guess I should have said "On the rack". I remember browsing for parts, not finding the right ones, doing calculations on a TI-something-or-other to figure out what I could fudge using resistance/inductance calculations...whatever. Could usually "get by" with what was on the wall. Plus what they had on the wall gave me...ideas (most of 'em bad, admittedly).

Now? They don't have squat. I don't even go to RS for anything serious....if it isn't a pre-fab disposable, I order off the web - and not from "the Shack".

Re:lollll.... (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270984)

    There was a gap of years, where I didn't need anything because I didn't have time to play around with my own electronics. I went back in looking for some little pieces. Don't ask me what. Resistors, switches, relays, or something along those lines. It really hurt to see that they didn't even sell a soldering iron. I asked the guy at the counter. He had been a long time employee, and we had a good chat about it. There was one RS store in the area that had *some* parts.

    A few years ago, I needed a high load solid state relay / optical isolator. Pretty much, I was making a spark gap generator. Well, ideally it wouldn't be, since it was to be putting a current through water to test electrolysis at different frequencies and voltages. I couldn't handle the current through the equipment I had. 15A 170VDC is a bit strong. :) There were no local vendors. I could have ordered it from one of several domestic companies, but the price was too high. I ended up ordering them from some guy in Turkey who had a couple listed up on eBay for $5.

    And for those wondering, 130VAC (full bridge rectified to DC) fed to carbon plates does a wonderful job of electrolysis. For my testing, it was perfect as far as the rate went. It was completely infeasible for the intended application. And as others have found (just check YouTube), you want to ensure your electrodes never have a shorter path through the air (resulting gasses), or you'll find your device exploding very quickly. My tests at that level lasted for about 2 seconds. :)

    But back to the original purpose. Ya, I miss the days where you could go into the store and pick up any little piece you may require. Most of the kids on here won't even know, RS usually had a vacuum tube tester. Ok, they don't even know what a vacuum tube looks like. :) Now, we just take something that's broken, throw it away, and buy a new one. Oh, I forgot. There's a higher profit margin there. RS makes more money selling you a new [insert consumer item], than the components that only cost a few cents, to fix the old one.

CEO Can't Figure Out How RadioShack Still In Busin (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36270786)

FORT WORTH, TX—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."

The retail outlet boasts more than 6,000 locations in the United States, and is known best for its wall-sized displays of obscure-looking analog electronics components and its notoriously desperate, high-pressure sales staff. Nevertheless, it ranks as a Fortune 500 company, with gross revenues of over $4.5 billion and fiscal quarter earnings averaging tens of millions of dollars.

"Have you even been inside of a RadioShack recently?" Day asked. "Just walking into the place makes you feel vaguely depressed and alienated. Maybe our customers are at the mall anyway and don't feel like driving to Best Buy? I suppose that's possible, but still, it's just...weird."

After taking over as CEO, Day ordered a comprehensive, top-down review of RadioShack's administrative operations, inventory and purchasing, suppliers, demographics, and marketing strategies. He has also diligently pored over weekly budget reports, met with investors, taken numerous conference calls with regional managers about "circulars or flyers or something," and even spent hours playing with the company's "baffling" 200-In-One electronics kit. Yet so far none of these things have helped Day understand the moribund company's apparent allure.

"Even the name 'RadioShack'—can you imagine two less appealing words placed next to one another?" Day said. "What is that, some kind of World War II terminology? Are ham radio operators still around, even? Aren't we in the digital age?"

"Well, our customers are out there somewhere, and thank God they are," Day added.

One of Day's theories about RadioShack's continued solvency involves wedding DJs, emergency cord replacement, and off-brand wireless telephones. Another theory entails countless RadioShack gift cards that sit unredeemed in their recipients' wallets. Day has even conjectured that the store is "still coasting on" an enormous fortune made from remote-control toy cars in the mid-1970s.

Day admitted, however, that none of these theories seems particularly plausible.

"I once went into a RadioShack location incognito in order to gauge customer service," Day said. "It was about as inviting as a visit to the DMV. For the life of me, I couldn't see anything I wanted to buy. Finally, I figured I'd pick up some Enercell AA batteries, though truthfully they're not appreciably cheaper than the name brands."

"I know one thing," Day continued. "If Sony and JVC start including gold-tipped cable cords with their products, we're screwed."

In the cover letter to his December 2006 report to investors, "Radio Shack: Still Here In The 21st Century," Day wrote that he had no reason to believe that the coming year would not be every bit as good as years past, provided that people kept on doing things much the same way they always had.

Despite this cheerful boosterism, Day admitted that nothing has changed during his tenure and he doesn't exactly know what he can do to improve the chain.

"I'd like to capitalize on the store's strong points, but I honestly don't know what they are," Day said. "Every location is full of bizarre adapters, random chargers, and old boom boxes, and some sales guy is constantly hovering over you. It's like walking into your grandpa's basement. You always expect to see something cool, but it never delivers."

Added Day: "I may never know the answer. No matter how many times I punch the sales figures into this crappy Tandy desk calculator, it just doesn't add up."

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

Re:CEO Can't Figure Out How RadioShack Still In Bu (-1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270846)

Note to /.: Strip the CRLF pairs from CEO-speech reposted by anonymous cowards. Is a lot of empty space surrounding hot air.

Re:CEO Can't Figure Out How RadioShack Still In Bu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36270892)

Note to /.: Strip the CRLF pairs from CEO-speech reposted by anonymous cowards. Is a lot of empty space surrounding hot air.

http://www.thewambulance.com

Re:CEO Can't Figure Out How RadioShack Still In Bu (0)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270932)

http://www.thewambulance.com

Who made that? Your boyfriend?

Re:CEO Can't Figure Out How RadioShack Still In Bu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36271114)

Well, here in Canada, they solved some of these problems. The Radio Shacks all changed their names to The Source. Nice and generic, that, as it doesn't make you have any expectations of what it's the source of. Competing with Best Buy or other large consumer electronics shops was fixed by closing the shops in malls where there was also a Best Buy or other large consumer electronics shop. As for parts, fortunately, I've got another shop close by called Lee's Components where I can still by 555 timers, 741 op amps, voltage regulators, TTL chips, transformers, fans and all those little fiddly bits that hobbyists still need once in a while.

So, I guess I can see where the CEO is coming from. I cain't figure what they sell there that you can't get elsewhere for less with more competent help, either.

Parts in a bin (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36270794)

Last time I tried to buy a capacitor at RS the salesperson showed me a bin of parts. I found what I wanted. I tried to pay for it, he just looked at him dismissively and said, "I don't care."

The RS of old would have raped me and charged me $3.29. This guy was just interested in selling cell phone contracts.

RS is dead.

Re:Parts in a bin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36270824)

No, it just means that they don't rip you off anymore. $3.29 for a bunch of capacitors??? :s

Re:Parts in a bin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36271010)

No... $3.29 for *a* capacitor.

Re:Parts in a bin (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270832)

A year or so ago I took on some projects that had me cruising for parts, so I hit Radio Shack expecting to be dissapointed again, when I found that section had been cleaned up, and new display racks put in since I last looked.

I noticed some cool things, not the old selection, but clearly some newer merchandise, even a BASIC STAMP kit. Though, they didn't seem to have the center tapped transformers out, similarly the clerk was more into cell phone contracts and new jack about what I was buying but... he was nice enough to look in the stock room and find the transformer that I was looking for, even though he has no clue what it was.

RadioShack just followed money orders, anyway... (5, Insightful)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270800)

Some time ago Corporate America decided they didn't need any stinkin' American engineers...toooooo expensive...outsource 'em all. RadioShack just followed along and eliminated elementary school for engineers in favor of pre-fab junk for the proles in a "We're a service economy now!".

Shouldn't let Wall Street run a country; they're only in it for themselves.

Re:RadioShack just followed money orders, anyway.. (1)

divide overflow (599608) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271012)

Somebody mod this comment "Insightful" please.

Re:RadioShack just followed money orders, anyway.. (1)

sunspot42 (455706) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271162)

This nails it.

The Yes Men (2)

creat3d (1489345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270806)

I was sure it was a Yes Men stunt until I saw it was posted on RS's official YT channel. I'm kinda disappointed in a way...

ASDFASDFSADLFJASLDFKJ!!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36270822)

1. Carry individual parts that aren't horrible. I need a specific capacitance, not an assortment of crapacitors that I never need. Even the things they do carry such as switches and audio connections I have found to be piss poor and not worth my time.

2. Carry Arduino, shields, and parts that would be useful for connecting the device to other sensors. This would actually be brilliant for them so I am sure we are in no danger.

3. #1 again. If they actually carried parts, ICs, and etc.. without the bullshit, I would be in there far too often.

Re:ASDFASDFSADLFJASLDFKJ!!!! (1)

emt377 (610337) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271124)

Arduino is a good suggestion. I would add some basic Olimex ARM7TDMI boards to this, maybe BeagleBoard kits with Linux on SD cards. Maybe a basic FPGA kit. As comprehensive kits with everything needed to get up and running using a PC. Install software, plug in the power, open any of the example projects, and hit go. A basic DSP kit would be popular too I'm sure. A DYI digital/networked/SD card picture frame that runs Linux/Android with a touch display. It's not about money either; RS has never been that cheap. It's about educational value and lowering the barrier of entry. Of course, SparkFun Electronics (sparkfun.com) has pretty much this segment locked up...

Mims (4, Insightful)

smoothnorman (1670542) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270848)

1. Find Forrest Mims
2. Make him CEO
...
4. Profits (from DIY if profits from DIY are possible)

Re:Mims (2)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271192)

I think someone like him would be needed. Whoever it is would probably need to be video and YouTube savvy and become the "DIY guy" for electronics.

by-gone-days (1)

pbjones (315127) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270850)

very few people scratch build any more, and IMHO Tandy/RadioShack didn't have the range of stock that other stores had. They die because they did a 1/2 assed job.

HDMI Cables (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36270854)

When you charge me 40$ for 6' of cable because you are 'convenient', I will choose not to shop with you any time I've got other options.

An ode to a bygone era. (1)

Reed Solomon (897367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270856)

Frankly, If I wanted a part right away at an exorbitant price, I'd have it shipped overnight express from sparkfun or some other online retailer. Hell it's probably still cheaper. I'm in Canada and Radio Shack as a brand went defunct years ago (bought out by circuit city and forced to rename to the source, then bought out by Bell). I mean, I'll always have the memories of old radio shack with its TRS-80's and Tandy computers or otherwise and remote control cars stacked in a pyramid around christmas, with all kinds of weird parts 8 year old me didn't understand but was fascinated by. All kinds of weird robots that didn't actually do anything. But that radio shack only exists in my memories. There is no going back. The world has changed. Robots no longer drive around in circles bumping into walls. Computers no longer take days to set up properly. Yes my first PC was a Tandy. I quite loved it.

Sadly, nobody goes to malls anymore anyways. Radio Shack was a place for men to go to wind down while their wives or girlfriends shopped for useless things like clothing and whatnot.

Goodnight, sweet prince of overpriced gouging.

Cell Phone and Toy store in the mall (4, Insightful)

Technician (215283) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270858)

It would be nice if they carried a much larger selection of parts. Long ago they found that a large inventory of low value parts took up too much wall space with too little turn. Unfortunately without traffic, the higher margin items didn't sell either.

They pretty much lost me when they became another mall toy store and cell phone shop.

If they would guarantee stocking all the common standard resistor values and capacitor values and most of the common IC's and transistors, then a hobbyist won't start elsewhere because the local shop is unlikely to carry a full inventory.

How hard is it to have in stock resistors of the 1, 2.2, 2.7, 3,3 , 4.7, 6.8, and 9.1 values in most multiplier values in 1/4 and 1/2 watt sizes?
A lack of semiconductors is their greatest downfall. They have maybe a dozen IC's in stock in the lines of the common 555 and little else.
The transistor selection is very thin. The most common small signal transistors are absent. 2SC1815 or a 2N249 are scarce.

If you want parts to build an interface to drive a sprinkler valve for robotics from an Arduino, there is nothing that would do the job. Power Mosfets for building any kind of H bridge for robotics is not in stock.

Other stores and online are about the only place to get those parts anymore. Radio Shack's failure has given Mouser a huge market. Mouser is not as convenient for a quick pick up of some 4.7K resistors and other small orders so Radio Shack is missing out on the electronics convenience store they used to be.

The Shack...sure. (1)

Rie Beam (632299) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270862)

Known about this for about a month now, it's been a very badly kept secret with the ground floor guys at RS. From what I've gathered, it's the new CEOs push to really get back to what drew people to the store in the first place -- the "Oooh, neat" factor. How they execute it, however, is still up in the air; most RSs are dinosaurs in terms of getting new product in / clearing out old product. My experience with them was mostly replacing/repacking stuff that had its casing yellowed because they've been in the store so long.

To be fair, I can understand wanting to diversify a bit -- it's basically been focusing so much on cellphones for the past decade that it's no wonder that it might be tempted to garner more sales than from a market that has since become extremely competetive and harder to pull a large profit from without the messiah-like capabilities of its more salesman-like staff (the few are hard to find; the turnover is pretty awful).

I'd just be happy if A) It became a geek store again that B) could actually turn a good, fair profit. Dreams.

WHAT'S A RADIO SHACK ?? EAT YOUR MEAT !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36270868)

Do they still use radio? Is it not all internet? How can anyone continue when there is no radio? How can you have any pudding if not?

The Onion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36270870)

You are all aware that this article is coming from the Onion correct?
http://www.theonion.com/articles/even-ceo-cant-figure-out-how-radioshack-still-in-b,2190/

This article should never have made it to the homepage. Slashdot -1

Re:The Onion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36270942)

There is no link to THAT article in this post aside from the comments.
Are you retarded or something? Also do you have a sister? I'd like to rape her.

Too late. (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270882)

There are already store(s) in my area that are filling the small and dwindling niche that Radio Shack once filled. They're farther away and few in number. Us old-timer tinkerers aren't likely to ever go back when we still recall how they so eagerly abandoned us when they thought the big bucks laid elsewhere.

Anyone remember Dow Radio in Pasadena, CA? I wonder if its successor is still there.

Re:Too late. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36270970)

If you're in SoCal, you should already know about MarVac.

Re:Too late. (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271098)

WAS in SoCal... which is why I wondered. I had forgotten the name MarVac, but I still lived there after the acquisition.

Old Memories (1)

TheRecklessWanderer (929556) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270890)

I had great memories of Radio Shack. I could go in there, and talk to a guy who knew the difference between a relay and a resistor, and knew what the funny coloured bands were used for. Little by little, the stuff I used for my projects left the store to be replaced by the same crap you can buy at any other of 100 stores. The people that knew what they were doing were replaced by people who really had no clue, and could have been selling burgers or mini-skirts, it really didn't matter. The final insult was when they started asking for an address and phone number for a credit card purchase. The last time I was in a radio shack, they would not sell me the item I wished to buy on my plastic without me giving my address to them. So I went to the other side of the mall and never looked back. I hope that radio shack wallows in the misery it has created for itself. When you are the k-mart of electronics, this is what happens, and no one will take them seriously as an electronics compoonent provider given their history.

Last time I went to Radio Shack regularly... (4, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270904)

I was mainly building digital and digital-analog circuits... so I'd go into Radio Shack and some sales guy would approach. (This happened not just once, but many times, seemingly a different salesperson each time.) I'd tell him I was looking for another Quad 4011 CMOS NAND Gate or a particular transistor or some such, and he'd get a blank look on his face. I'd say, "I know where they are" and go get them.

I admit that was years ago. But the funny thing was, not very long after that I applied for a job at one of the local Radio Shacks, and a little while later received a letter in the mail telling me I was not qualified for the job. I was not sure whether to be upset over the unjust insult, or laugh at the hypocrisy of it all.

But I think that was one of the big things that killed the store. They had a policy of hiring people who didn't know squat about DIY stuff. Instead they tried to sell stereo equipment and cell phones and Christmas toys. But that's really not what they wanted -- or needed -- to do. Everybody else was already doing that stuff.

I would love to see Radio Shack get back to its DIY roots. This time around maybe they can sell Arduinos and 3D printers. Heck... people are already selling machines that are 3D printers and CNC milling machines put together. It doesn't get much better than that. I want one.

Re:Last time I went to Radio Shack regularly... (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271004)

Same thing happened to me. I applied at "The Shack" once. I had considerable sales experience and like you, I actually knew the inventory better than the staff. I wasn't "qualified" either. Ha!

Re:Last time I went to Radio Shack regularly... (4, Interesting)

emt377 (610337) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271180)

I would love to see Radio Shack get back to its DIY roots. This time around maybe they can sell Arduinos and 3D printers. Heck... people are already selling machines that are 3D printers and CNC milling machines put together. It doesn't get much better than that. I want one.

PCBs would be awesome. Upload the design and go pick up the boards a week later. They could get enough volume to bring prototype-run prices way down.

And sell essential tools, which includes things like reflow stations these days. And ribbon cable kits, tools and all.

Re:Last time I went to Radio Shack regularly... (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271208)

Mod up. I think that's an idea that is worthy of telling them about. Currently, most folks are getting their prototype PCBs done in China. That could go a long way to bringing it back local, which would be a Good Thing.

Personally, if I'm doing "rapid prototyping", I'd pay $30 for a board done in 2 days (overnight, anyone?) rather than $5 or $10 for something I might get back in a month.

Re:Last time I went to Radio Shack regularly... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271232)

In fact -- thinking about your idea -- they could purchase rights to some good PCB software, or adopt one of the better open-source programs, some of which are very good, and offer it free to their customers. Then they could say "give us the file in xxx format and we'll have it for you in 2 days". Or overnight, or whatever. I agree: awesome.

Tell them about it and get some credit for the idea, at least.

I'll tell you why we're long gone. (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270906)

Radio Shack ran us out! We built their business but sometime in the 1990s, they started giving us the finger. Now THERE'S a hell of a business model - run off your most regular customers. First, the amateur radios disappeared. Then the parts. Over the years they've managed to discontinued everything electronic that I buy. A year ago, I got so fed up with it that I wrote them off forever. Thank God I live in a large city with a Fry's and a place called Tanner Electronics (a hobbyist's paradise - seriously - they have just about EVERYTHING that can be soldered).

If it weren't for online retailers like Mouser, DigiKey, RF Parts, and eBay, most people like me wouldn't have anywhere else to turn.

Re:I'll tell you why we're long gone. (1)

BigSlowTarget (325940) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271046)

Tanner's ROCKS but they're only in Dallas. The internet companion store is BGmicro.com (they buy together).

Re:I'll tell you why we're long gone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36271142)

"We built their business but sometime in the 1990s"

*1990s*? Hardly - it was already dead by then.

1950s and 60s, maybe. By 1990, anyone who knew anything at RS was gone, and it had changed into a store that catered to idiot consumers.

Next: Free Batteries! (1)

gooman (709147) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270908)

If this works, then soon, I expect a return of The Free Battery Card (one free per month for you youngsters).
I still have 2 punches left on mine, I hope I can find it.
After that they can bring back the tube testers.

^F Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36270916)

Pretty much sums up the issue.

DIY Consumer? (1)

gpmanrpi (548447) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270928)

After watching that video, I am sick and tired of being referred to as a consumer, and not a customer. Unless we are in an economics lecture, or a corporate board room, I think it's truly impolite and frankly condescending to refer to someone that tries to make regular use of your goods and services as a consumer. When did we let this word weasel into our collective vocabulary? I think DIY can be summed up into two camps: 1) I want to learn how something works and I might as well make something fun and cool. 2) I am tired of being charged 5000% markup on something relatively simple, and will just do it myself thank you kindly I think neither of these camps is a market for folks that are willing to open their wallet. Are they trying for economies of scale? If so maybe you should call DIY people enthusiasts instead of consumers. You can't consume Do-it-Yourself. I guess you could eat yourself. So then, is Radio Shack advocating cannibalism?

Re:DIY Consumer? (4, Insightful)

emt377 (610337) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271200)

After watching that video, I am sick and tired of being referred to as a consumer, and not a customer. Unless we are in an economics lecture, or a corporate board room, I think it's truly impolite and frankly condescending to refer to someone that tries to make regular use of your goods and services as a consumer.

Totally agree. In addition, people who build things are producers, not consumers.

I sincerely hope they *DO*! (1)

Announcer (816755) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270940)

The "Onion" article aside ;) I hope that it isn't too little, too late... despite all indications that it may well be.

The resurgence of people tinkering is an encouraging sign. Of course, there are still plenty of Ham Radio Operators out there. Yeah, a LOT of them are "Appliance Ops", but there are still those of us out there that *DO* enjoy tinkering! Here is proof! :)
http://www.mymorninglight.org.nyud.net/ham/ [nyud.net]
(My Ham Radio site, Coralized for Slashdot protection)

Incredible Tandy. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270964)

Incredible Universe [wikipedia.org]

Stop crowd-sourcing and do your damn job. (1)

emeade (123253) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270990)

Basic business is to identify your competitors and then look at what they are selling, apparently the Shack can't even figure that out for themselves.

R.I.P. (1)

ghinckley68 (590599) | more than 3 years ago | (#36270998)

Lost me long ago with you very over priced gold plated every thing, lack of selection, crappy over priced tools and junk stereo equipment that replaced what was very good gear.

$4 for 5 cent parts isn't going to motivate DIYers (1)

Toasterboy (228574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271000)

Radio Shack has been a ripoff for years. Why the hell would anyone who knows enough to DIY pay $4 for a 5 cent part? Sure, it might take a few days for it to come from Mouser, but honestly when you're designing a circuit, you need a lot of components, generally plan out what you need in detail and a retail place just isn't going to stock whatever exotic parts you are going to need for your project anyway.

Since there are far more folks who aren't with it enough to DIY, Radio Shack is far better off overcharging the masses for extension cords, sub par computers, and low grade RC cars in the mall. They just want the masses to THINK that smart people shop there.

Re:$4 for 5 cent parts isn't going to motivate DIY (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271008)

Maybe Radio Shack can become the new Sharper Image?

Too late (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271020)

You broke our hearts TRS, I don't think we can trust you yet again, not now...

To catch a mouse... (1)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271024)

make a noise like a cheese.

DIY means something else in 21st Century (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36271036)

They will basically end up selling kits to root your phone/console :/

Cell Phones are Radios (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271048)

Just sayin'.

Radio components are like chem sets (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271056)

Anybody who actually builds his own electronics is obviously a terrorist... People who buy this stuff will be closely watched by DHS.. through the security cams.. and besides, the alligator clips are just being used as roach clips.

Re: People who buy this stuff will be watched (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271094)

Anybody who actually builds his own electronics is obviously a terrorist... People who buy this stuff will be closely watched by DHS.. through the security cams..

That's fair...whatcha think we buy the stuff for, if not to watch the watchers?

Most sales associates (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271060)

Wouldn't know a PnP transistor from a 4001 IC, at least from what I've experienced in the odd store I pop into from time to time. I grew up on RS in the 60's & 70's with their "P-Box" construction kits, and the 150 in 1 project kit. Started out with those when I was 10,11 years old, then started tinkering by doing what if I change this resistor from a 1k to a 10k, or a 100microfared cap to a 10microfared cap. Now, you are lucky if they know the difference between a AGC fuse and an SFE fuse.

Ok, start by stocking/selling the Commodore stuff (4, Insightful)

Marrow (195242) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271074)

You want geek creds, you need to inspire people. Be the place where parents want to take their kids because they have a chance to learn something besides the best "fatality" moves. Think about offering classes. Have homebrew stuff displayed in-store so people can see what they can build. Embrace the niche.

I blame the solar cycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36271086)

They don't even carry antenna insulators anymore. But ham and shortwave hobbyist interest declined quite a bit due to poor conditions, caused by low sunspot numbers. After several years of low sales in that area, I can't say that I blame them for giving up on it. But now that sunspots are coming back, hobbyists are starting to take an interest again. Will RS be smart enough to change their inventory?

Long lost to the local market (1)

gethoht (757871) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271106)

Luckily for my area there are stores like JB Saunders [jbsaunders.com] to fill the void that Radio Shack left long ago. From now on I go out of my way to give them business in order to help foster a local business community. Plus they have boatloads of ridiculously useful stuff anytime I need it and I don't have to spend a ridiculous amount of money for an overpriced HDMI/USB3.0/whatever cable when I need it.

Too late; dead to me (5, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271110)

First, SparkFun [sparkfun.com] has a hugely better selection than the local Rat Shack ever did. Second, OK, so you decide to shift focus. Where are you going to get the people to staff these places? You can't throw a few ICs on a wall display and expect the mouthbreather at the front desk to be able to help with it. I'd honestly rather buy from a vending machine than deal with the kid who's trying to upsell me to a gold-plated breadboard, and would I like an iPod case with that? Finally, prices, prices, prices! The cat ate the charger to my wife's laptop. I found a replacement through the manufacturer's website for $50, and from eBay for $16. Rat Shack only stocked a universal (read: Soviet styling with crap specs) unit for $80.

So how's this supposed to work? They're not going to outstock online stores or other established local specialty shops. They don't have a competent sales force (and probably can't get one, because people worth having probably wouldn't be caught dead working there). I can't imagine that they'll ever set reasonable price points. Nah, they're dead to me - and apparently to almost everyone else. The "Radio Shack" brand is crap, and I don't think they can salvage it. I think their best best is to throw it away and launch a giant rebranding and "we used to suck and we're honest about that but we're better now" blitz.

Grow their market with Arduino (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36271116)

I wonder if they will partner with Arduino (and Open source) to not only sell parts but sell potential DIYers on the CONCEPT, by making available cool and low barrier to entry projects. Sort of like Heathkit used to do way back when.

The answer is already out there (1)

divide overflow (599608) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271122)

Fry's Electronics demonstrates the direction that Radio Shack could have taken to survive...hell, Tandy's failed Incredible Universe store in San Diego was purchased and converted to a very successful Fry's store. To be successful Radio Shack would have had to be run by people who understand the needs and desires of today's techno-geek. Like most older technology companies Radio Shack came to be run by people who neither understood how to satisfy this niche market nor had the desire to do so. Instead they tried a "me too" strategy to sell small, high volume, high profit items. Of course there's a lot of competition for that market and RS had no competitive advantage over the competition.

America has become cynical about educating their future generations. We need to expose them early on to good teachers and engaging media that shows them how stuff works and how things are made. This will go a long way towards getting young people interested in science and engineering and provide them the supplies and other support to nurture their curiosity.

Re:The answer is already out there (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271186)

What do you need an electronics parts store for unless you're some sort of homegrown terrorist building a terror device?

Sadly, I'm only being partially sarcastic. *sigh*

want my service back? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36271188)

1) stop trying to sell me a cell phone plan
2) be aware of electronical items that people buy (ac/dc adapter, dvi to vga converter, what a kvm switch is)
3) do not offer to order it from your catalog, if you reach for the catalog i'm out of the store
4) expand electronic section (resistors, switches, batteries that people actually use)
2) lower the prices, at least be the cheapest place to get at least 1 item (cheapest batter ir thermal grease or ANYTHING!!!!)

I know my tinkering has suffered because of this. (1)

TavisJohn (961472) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271202)

As RadioShack has started dropping parts, it has been harder for me to do the tinkering I enjoy.
Over the years I have gone into RadioShack only to find the parts that I knew they used to carry are no longer carried!

I have looked online for parts... They are there, however if I just need 1 or 2 parts for a project, it costs a fortune when you include shipping! And it is annoying to have to "Save Up" projects so that I can order enough parts at once to make the shipping cost worth while.
OR I have to stockpile parts to save on shipping, in the hopes that I will need them for a future project as well.

Now that they're returning to their roots... (1)

matunos (1587263) | more than 3 years ago | (#36271212)

...I can get that Tandy computer I've had my heart set on. 80% IBM compatible!
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