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Via @idris_arslanian:

After shrinking its electronic components aisle down to a single parsimonious cabinet flanked by overpriced batteries, TVs, and cell phones, it would appear that the Shack has been forced to re-evaluate its priorities given the lackluster state of its earnings. The above ad, which was emailed out to customers, says that 2,000 of their stores will feature expanded hobbyist sections beginning this month. But with the Adafruits and Sparkfuns of the world doing a far better job of catering to makers than the Shack, who knows if they can return to their glory years? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net


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Comments

  1. “Shack” you are dead to me! Go sell cell phone!

  2. Anonymous says:

    i’m thinking of a comparison to a horse and some barn doors being closed….

  3. I wish them the best of luck – they have a lot of lost ground to make up. That being said, they MIGHT be able to pull this off, if they learn from those who have succeeded already in this space.

    1. Anonymous says:

      2000 stores is 2000 stores!

      1. Yeah, but WHICH 2000 stores?

  4. Anonymous says:

    In my younger days, I remember looking forward to the new Radio Shack catalog coming out every year. Back when the were free, and you could be a member of the battery of the month club. (Guess I am showing my age)
    It amazed me that in the 80s and well into the 90s that they sold “computers” and yet every store still used hand written receipts and an archaic register. The sold the latest greatest technology, but were the slowest adapters. Ever since they have been slowly circling downward.

    1. Joshua Stark says:

      I remember feeding invoices into those Okidata dot-matrix printers and doing my reports on a Tandy 1000 with a monochrome monitor…. ahhhh those were the days!

      1. JamesB says:

        I remember repairing those Oki dot-matrix printers, and a couple of service calls on the Tandy 1000s as well.

  5. Pat Arneson says:

    Step 1: Don’t charge $2 for a single capacitor.

    I do find myself regularly picking up bags of photo-resistors at the shack.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Seriously, Mouser has them for like 2.3 cents. Too bad the shipping is $10.

  6. Mail order is great but there is something to be said for a local shop where you can go and parts and advise as well. If they are committed to returning to their roots and really serving the DIY market they will do more than just stock the aisles with components and leave customers to fend for themselves, they will have to hire/train people that actually understand electronics. For a noob like me being able to shop in person and ask someone that knows the components well enough to help with substitutions when the exact PN you’re looking for is out of stock or no longer made would be invaluable.

    If they continue to staff their stores entirely with bored, minimum wage teenagers that merely function as rude, distracted cash register operators then I don’t see this turnaround working. They should look at other successful chains that cater to DIY hobby groups for how to staff their stores. Rockler and WoodCraft stores for example do an excellent job of serving new and experienced woodworkers by stocking a wide range of tools and supplies and staffing the stores with people that know the craft well enough to offer advise and encouragement. They also run frequent in store demos and both paid and free skill building classes. A rebooted Shack following that model would be an amazing place, can you imagine 2000 RadioShacks around the country offering learn to solder classes?

    1. Anonymous says:

      the last time i was in a radio hut (about 2 months back) picking up a connector, i explained to the staffer what a soldering iron was and how to solder. he knew where the bits were, but had NO clue what to do with them. he was *really* excited to learn about it.

    2. Timothy Gray says:

      It will not happen. the company has no desire to pay more than minimum wage. Commissions are zero on small parts sales and tinkerers don’t buy 50″ LCD TV’s and new cellphones where they buy their resistors.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Bring it on, I would love to see RadioShack earn back my business.

  8. dorkbot overlord of dorkbot austin here. i have to say, radio shack was a fantastic sponsor to work with for our large SXSW event (noted in the screenshot above). they gave two of our members gift cards and the instruction to make something, anything, and it worked out fantastically.

    the day when i can walk into a radio shack and be greeted with a shelf of arduinos and shields rather than an overly chipper teenager trying to sell me a cell phone is a day i look forward to.

    1. Anonymous says:

      i’d be happier seeing baggies of chips and proto boards. kits are well and good, but what they did best was the components and expertise. you can get started with a developed shield, but few folks think, “oh, it’s 8pm on saturday, i need an arduino to finish this.” You run to the hut because you’re out of solder wick, and need a particular resistor you don’t happen to have. sure you’ll probably pick up a spare picaxe as an impulse buy next to the register, but i really don’t see folks going to a brick and mortar where they’ve learned to order their shields.

  9. It’s entirely due to the fact that there was a Radio Shack in the mall I went to as a kid that I am today buying things from Adafruit and Sparkfun. (And keeping the bricks-and-mortar electronics shops that I’m lucky enough to have in my town in business. )
    There’s a lot to be said for capturing the entry-level market, and I wish them well, even if we no longer have them here in Canada. However, as Josh Burrows says, the only way you are going to own that market is by having knowledgeable people behind the counter.

  10. Long story long: Ever since I was a small child I’ve been fascinated by how things work. As soon as I could hold a screwdriver I was taking apart my toys. I was glued to science programs more than cartoons. Typical nerdy 1980s kid.

    In the mid 80s my family was pretty damned poor, but my mom had the foresight to somehow scrape up the cash to get me my own computer. I remember the trip to Radio Shack clearly, I was around 8 or 9 years old. They had a TRS-80 running some game the salesman showed me how to control, and I played around on the demo while mom talked with the salesman about how advanced I was in school, how glued I was to science and tech, etc. I was really excited to be getting one of these things for myself.

    After a few rounds of the game I dragged my mom over to the game cartridges, figuring we’d have to get some of these to go with my new computer; being an Atari veteran I knew how these things worked. However, that Radio Shack guy did something simple which tangibly altered the course of my life; he handed mom a couple of BASIC manuals instead. One was kid-level with BASIC games you had to type into the machine to play, and kid-friendly explanations of how and why they worked. The other was the extra-fat manual which actual adult programmers used. I remember actually being disappointed, until the salesman explained to me that there were more games in those two books than there were on the whole shelf of cartridges, and the books would even teach me how to make my own games.

    Sooo, this led me to teach myself BASIC out of these books, which of course led to the realization that I could change the code to make the games work differently. I figured out the basics of making my own programs. There were also graphics programs, and since I was already addicted to drawing I jumped at the opportunity to draw with my computer. I learned that the real possibilities of this wonderful machine, and tech in general, were in changing and creating, not just passively using. I never looked back.

    I’ll always wish I could track down that Radio Shack guy; he must have recognized that spark of a potential fellow geek and figured out how to best encourage me on that path. I owe him a lot.

    As I advanced in my geeky childhood Radio Shack was the source for parts and components for any manner of projects. I’d chat with the Radio Shack guys about this idea or that, and learned things about electronics that school wouldn’t even think to start teaching me for years. Some kids’ allowances were spent on candy and comic books, mine went on diodes and capacitors.

    Fast-forward 25 years and the store that changed my life is a source for overpriced phones, toy cars, and glazed expressions when asked about any actually geeky subject. It’s not just the dwindling supply of hobbyist components, although I’ll always prefer walking into a brick-and-mortar store to pick those up versus ordering online, it’s the people. I don’t feel like any kid today is going to be able to take away an experience like mine from a trip to Radio Shack, and since geek culture has moved on and coalesced in so many other places – meetings, hackerspaces, online forums including here in the MAKE:verse – I don’t think that’s anything Radio Shack has hope of getting back. Times have changed, we have changed, and the center of our world is no longer the place where we buy our bits and pieces.

    Those two BASIC books still enjoy a place of honor on my bookshelf.

    1. Mr. Firefly, it sounds like you and I traveled parallel paths my friend. The only difference is, I was a 70′s kid, and my TRS-80 was a Model 1 (I’m assuming you had a CoCo, since yours could “draw”) :-)

      1. Yes indeed, I was an ’80s kid and the CoCo 2 was my first computer. :-)

    2. Great story, thanks for sharing it.

    3. Angus Hines says:

      My first computer was an Apple 2 not 2e either…LOL !! and all I can remember is

      10 PRINT “HELLO”
      20 GOTO 10

    4. Anonymous says:

      Thank you for reminding me! My story started a few years earlier, with a couple Model 1 and a Model III machines, but the main theme is the same. My father spent a lot of time at the local Radio Shack. I remember going there to test tubes for TVs and radios. And, in the late 70′s, when I got my hands on the schools computers, I quickly tired of the games they had (on tape, no less), and started using my time to use the BASIC programming course that the school had. In no time, I was changing the games to my benefit, and before long, I was teaching my teachers how to use the shiny machines.

      About 15 years later, I took a part-time job at that same Shack after returning to the area. Gone were the tube-testers. Gone were the salesmen who cared more about the knowledge and people, now they cared about profits, and marketability.

      Today, I rarely step foot in a Radio Shack. I bought a new HT (ham radio) last year, and the folks at my Shack had no idea what I was looking for or how to help me. Guess they missed the significance of the name on the door.

      I was glad to get the email this week, and can’t wait to see if they really do return to their roots.

  11. Ron says:

    I’ve actually had pretty good luck picking parts at my local Shack – was surprised. Taking shipping into account the prices weren’t too bad and it is great being able to pick up some stuff same day.

  12. Radio Shack was the place I went for electronic parts back in the 80s and even a little in the 90s. It was sad watching their electronics aisle grow smaller and smaller, and more and more overpriced. Once upon a time, you could buy enough parts at Radio Shack to build a DIY radio!

    If they do get back to their roots, I’d also love to see them return to Canada. Our pale ersatz used-to-be-RS stores were never as good as the US ones, even at the best of times.

  13. Anonymous says:

    There should be a way to get Make and the Maker community involved with Radio Shack as well.

    Instead of trying to get established companies the way they manufacture, push the retailer a little by -making- product they might be able to sell. Or sell after outsourcing the trickiest bits (plastic shells, circuit boards).

    That is:
    Radio shack has universal remotes under the house brand. But they aren’t all that hackable, etc.

    A ‘Make:Remote’ contest with a mild prize should come up with one with more Maker-friendly internals. (They aren’t that tough.)

    1. Anonymous says:

      Heck, have a pipeline from sparkfun, makershed, adafruit etc, direct to the shelf.

      A moderate markup for convenience is legitimate, I don’t expect 7-11 to have a grocery store price on milk after all.

      As for product selection for the limited shelf space, have a contest/survey of the maker community.

  14. Adam Eyring says:

    Radio Shack was the place where my electronics kits came from and later the Forest Mims books (all of which I still have and are still sold 15-25 years later). I still go occasionally for diodes, resistors, etc. because I can quickly get one or two to test before buying a few more (I use mail order for larger quantities). One time recently I asked the guy at the counter if he knows of others who buy the diodes and he said there were quite a few, so I knew there were other Makers nearby using the same RS.

  15. Paul Fadell says:

    Make each store a mini hacker/hangout space, have an Adafruit kit section, hold classes, contests, events. I would go hang out multiple times a week at the locations by my work and home.

    1. Hackerspaces have all those ingredients except the parts for sale, and some hackerspaces even wholesale those in for people. I think that’s the direction things are going in nowadays.

      1. Paul Fadell says:

        Don’t get me wrong, I love hackerspaces, but there are not 2000 of them and the closest is too far away to be “green” or time efficient for me to get there often. I also know this is not a realistic idea, but Radio Shack can feel free to surprise me.
        P.S. I think they should also take electronic waste from the community and let customers salvage parts and re-use.

        1. Adam Tolley says:

          yes, yes and yes.

  16. caupolican says:

    if they can:

    1) Get a staff that can actually answer a question
    2) Lower their prices

    Then, the got me back.

    Is true that you can order anything online nowadays, but walking through the shelves and picking up parts is an experience on it own right, When you take a weekend project is nice to know you can just take a quick drive and grab some components, and get to building.

  17. Jac Goudsmit says:

    How about a 1-day PCB service? Take your PCB design to the Shack (or enter it into a website), pick it up next day at the store. I bet that would get a lot of hobbyists to go there again. Especially if they also start selling parts again, although I understand there’s not a lot of money in that.

  18. I’ve noticed that at least the RadioShack closest to the Hack Factory here in Minneapolis, MN still has a relatively large electronic component selection, which is a happy coincidence. But I still consider them a last resort, for when I don’t have time to wait for a Digikey or SparkFun order. Those times when I’m willing to pay a 200-1000% markup for the sake of having something in hand now.

    The store I briefly worked at in Crystal though… Most of the electronics components were in boxes in the back, piled in one of the bathrooms. Plenty of space for cell phone displays and iPod accessories, though. Useless.

  19. Paul Carney says:

    They have worked so hard to alienate the Hobbyist and DIY community over the last couple of decades It may be just too little and years too late. The younger crowd may give them a chance, but I doubt that I will.

  20. If Radio Shack really wants to enter this space, I’m sure they could, and could be successful at it. Imagine a retail store with SparkFun-like inventory.

    Paul had a fantastic idea: if they could make each store a mini-hackerspace, they could totally own the maker community.

    I doubt it’ll happen, though. The market is too small to support such a large retail chain.

  21. Stacy Devino says:

    I am a loyal ‘Shack enthusiast. I have designed whole circuits around the availability of the parts at Radioshack so that projects did not require the wait of 5-days for something simple.

    I browse the clearance to get more Li-Po batteries and parts (RC cars are great for small motors!).

    People who have been pushing back and asking for more are the reason why it is coming back. Who knows, maybe we will start seeing kits made by MakerShed, Adafruit, and Sparkfun at our local RadioShack (beginners have to start somewhere!). It would also be in the best interests of these companies to pursue RadioShack as a vendor.

    I was highly disappointed when i went to the RadioShack headquarters in the D/FW area and they had shut down STORE #1. The Company store that had everything they sold in it was gone, no longer at headquarters. Massive Fail and i was incredibly dissapointed….we even made it a special trip while I was there and it was nothing…..

  22. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad this discussion is happening. Every time Radio Shack is brought up on MAKE, a… passionate thread breaks out, with people fondly remembering the “old” Shack, dissing the current Radio Shack, and having mixed feelings of hope and skepticism about whether they’ll ever reclaim their DIY roots.

    I can’t say for certain, but I think they ARE serious this time and open to hearing from the DIY community about what we want. There have been some exchanges on their twitter feed recently that have show their openness to hearing from makers. So I’m interested in hearing positive suggestions about what they could do to make them relevant again to DIYers.

    And what sorts of parts would you like to see them stock? Services they might offer. Let’s take the lead in helping them brainstorm a 21st century Radio Shack store.

    1. Joshua Stark says:

      Gareth, there are a lot of things RS could do from the point of view of stocking things and services, but if change doesn’t happen from the inside out, they’ll fail. My thoughts:

      -Bring back power. Allow employees to transfer stock and make orders of new stock without having to go through a district office.
      -Offer more/better training, and offer incentives to train. They have limited CBT now but there’s not much to get them to learn.
      -Bring back commission sales. There’s a reason why you get a cell phone shoved in your nose. That’s because the only cash commission (SPIFF) they get anymore is on cells. Otherwise an entry-level associate only gets minimum wage!

      Then and only then can they start offering products no one else has… everyone these days from walmart to best buy carries TVs, cell phones, and home theatre systems.

      As for service, if you have knowledgeable associates that are truly passionate about tech and customer service… you’ll get tons of customers.

  23. dr says:

    I don’t get the via. I see no mention of this in that twitter stream nor at the blog linked from there.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Well, he emailed it to me.

  24. If RS wants makers, why not include treating employees better and intentionally seeking skilled hobbyists as part of their plan, like they used to? I think one of RS’s biggest mistakes is selling such poorly made junk. They had the opportunity to be a respected premium retailer, but turned their chain into a farce.

  25. Bruce James says:

    Here in the UK, Radio Shack was branded Tandy and was a regular haunt for us geeky kids in the early 80′s before it started selling Disco lights and toys. They finally sold out in about 1999 with all the shops becoming Carphone Warehouse (ISTR). The other place for hobbyists bits and pieces was Maplin. They used to be mail order with a handful of shops but they’re now taking over the Tandy mantle and have shops most everywhere. They do still sell components in the shops, usually at a counter at the back but the rest of the shop is mainly filled with disco gear and toys. I wish they’d see the opportunity that the current upsurge in hacker communities could bring and start concentrating on serving that. It would be sad to see this last high street electronics (I mean _real_ electronics) shop go the way of Tandy.

  26. Every trip to Radio Shack ends up with the salesman asking me what type of phone I have and telling me about their great new phones, frankly I am so bored of that discussion that I just make sure I order enough components online so that I have to go to Radio Shack as few times as I can.

  27. Derek Tombrello says:

    It’s too late. Like all of y’all, growing up Radio Shack was THE go to place for all my electronic needs. Even into adulthood as a professional electronics technician, Radio Shack was my main source for repair components. I haven’t shopped at a Radio Shack store in over 10 years because of their decision to alienate the “nerd crowd.” Now they want our business back? No thanks. I’ve moved on. Now it’s time for Radio Shack to reap the ramifications of their decision and slowly fade away…

  28. The last time I set foot in “the shack” I was looking for a replacement speaker for my “garage stereo”…clerk said “we don’t carry bare speakers”…and what kind of cell phone do you have?

    Never again……….

    Although, in Ft. Worth (their HQ), there is a pretty good Shack outlet store…….very cheap.

  29. Arghhh… I used to work at a RadioShack. This was about the time when cell phones really started taking off. But we still had all the components and speakers to hack things together. But We did mostly sell phones. The best times were when people came in and needed help figuring something out. We help solve their issues and even made personal trips to their house to help hook something up. (We were a private franchise store).

    I understand that Radioshack needed to follow the money trail and at that time it was to sell cell phones. But it seems at the expense of hiring untrained people to work in the stores who could care less that really hurt them.

    I think you can still get great service from a Radioshack if you visit a private franchise location. The owners there care enough to make sure they have people that want to work that and that enjoys electronics.

    Even the franchise customer service is under attack now. I was considering opening my own Radioshack and they sent me the franchise agreement. I reviewed and realized that they are begining to force their franchises to be to much like their corporate stores. I had plans to offer workshops and carry addtional hobby/DIY stuff in my store. But the franchise restricts it so much now. In a few years even the old agreements will be up and old Radioshack franchises will be forced into this corporate model.

    Struble

    1. Addidis says:

      I can’t count how many times I installed what I sold, on my own time for my customers. We are/were the thing that made radioshack cool (just having parts doesnt cut it for me you need the people) . I was a manager when bag phones just came out so I can completely identify with exactly what you’ve said .

  30. Timothy Gray says:

    They have a long way to go to get me to come back. Like back to 1/2 the store being small parts like they were in the 80′s.

    Honestly though it will be a tough sell to get me stop using Jameco and Sparkfun.

  31. Addidis says:

    If you love them, or hate them, there is no question if the world of makers is better because they are putting Mr Mims books back on the shelf. Making things used to be radioshack’s forte, They used to value tech geeks as employee’s and support innovation. They didnt always hire pushy car sales men who don’t understand the electronics they sell. I used to go in to my local shop to chat with the old engineers behind the counter. This could be one of the biggest things thats happened in a while, or this could be another effort to rope people in for cell phones when they want a 100M resistor.
    I am going to break my NDA and protest the IP paper work you have to sign to work there. If I design something on my time on my dollar radioshack has no right to claim IP on it and thats what their paper work they made me sign said. If you want to embrace makers then dont $#!& on your employees , then your employees will be useful to makers because they are makers. They can sue me if they want I have nothing to take. Ill take that one for the team to get this in the open.

  32. s galvin says:

    I agree
    online parts are so easy find and order. digikey and Newark and many others are not just for businesses anymore

  33. Rob Patton says:

    To accomplish this, they would need to hire someone that knew the difference between a resistor and a transistor and sell to a new audience. Current hobbyists can wait that extra 12 hours for UPS to deliver a product vs fighting the mall to get what they need. I’m lucky to live near Skycraft, so most doesn’t apply to me!

  34. It may be too little too late… I hope not, but I’m definitely not optimistic. I was in RS two weeks ago looking for a small stepper motor (gambling that they even had one) but I was surprised that neither of the two employees even knew what they were. They pointed me to the DC motors which was close… but not what I was needing. I looked and, of course, no steppers… even tiny toy ones.

    I, too, am annoyed at the large amount of space given over to mobile phones, but I guess that’s what a younger generation thinks of when they think of RS. Too bad, really.

  35. I hope they can follow through on this — we lost our local component supplier a year or so back and I really hate waiting for components in the mail :( I can’t say I’m optimistic, though, especially about the pricing getting better….Here’s to hoping!

  36. In recent times I’ve been stopping by Radio Shack about once a month, and about 1/2 the time I get what I need, and about 1/2 the time I am totally disappointed. The staff never knows anything, and, well, that’s fine, because I usually know what I need. The problem is, they often don’t have what I need. I love Adafruit, SparkFun, and the others, but sometimes I *need* something ASAP, and can’t wait for it to be shipped to me. Radio Shack being awesome would be awesome. I’ll stay tuned…

  37. Joshua Stark says:

    Speaking as a former RS company store employee, I saw this coming years ago. I, like a lot of you, enjoyed hanging out at Radio Shack because of the nifty parts and just stuff you couldn’t find anywhere else. Devoured the Mims books and became an amateur radio operator because of it. Loved it so much, that Shack gave me my first job.

    Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I latched onto any training they would give me. Back then, you could specialize in computers, audio, video, and cellular phones. We even had a “senior sales specialist” in our store. I loved helping people and actually being able to help them with just about anything. If I didn’t have what they were looking for in the store I could do an ICST, or an inter-company stock transfer. The warranties were such that we could actually repair stuff and sometimes even work on things in-house.

    We could set up anything we wanted and demo it in house. I can still remember the kids that would gather around as we raced our RC cars around the hallways of the mall, and the “mall parties” we would have just aiming stereo speakers out the doors. Christmas, or the “Golden Quarter”, was amazing. SAIA would pull up a 52′ trailer full of toys to our back doors and then have to come back with another 2 months after. People could come up and work or play on the computers. (You have no idea how many computers I sold playing “Doom” in the front of store!!!)

    In 1994, I became an assistant manager and Len Roberts became CEO. This was the beginning of the “You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers” campaign. To me, that was the beginning of the end, because they touted that phrase everywhere, but the truth was there was very little training to back it up. The company had discontinued the training programs, and the new hires were not really interested in learning. My employees were more interested in selling phones and playing on the keyboards than really helping customers. I ended up with most of the questions that needed answering.

    Shortly after that, due to a management mistake on my part, I was summarily dismissed from the company. Believe it or not, I had other managers calling me, and I continued helping Radio Shack employees, working on store plans and even a remodel or two. To this day, every time I walk into Shack someone’s got a question for me. Recently I spent 2 hours just helping the single employee that was in my local Shack with customers who had questions.

    Sadly, ICST went out the window at some point. Managers have no power to satisfy customers. Employees really aren’t allowed to work on things in the stores. Inventory’s gone down to anything you can get at a walmart with the exception of a very few things. Employees know absolutely nothing short of the latest cellphone they’re trying to push.

    I don’t know if it’s really too little too late but if Shack is really trying, they need to kill the 15000 cellphones and get back to what I always thought it was about: helping people.

    1. Kevix says:

      I too was an associate, circa. 1990. We still had the sales books, but I figured they stopped that, after I have seen the deer-in-head-light look in the current employees’ eyes. At that time, the shack was already downsizing parts and focusing on cellphone, the store-with-a-store and lowering commissions. Everyone became cellphone zombies. As of the last 2 yrs, parts are crawling back. but it is too little, too late.

  38. Calladus says:

    When I (not very often) walk into Radio Shack, a friendly employee always says, “Can I help you?”

    My response is always, “I doubt it.”

    Getting the part I need from Radio Shack is always a (rare) surprise. But I keep trying because I remember what they used to be like.

    1. Anonymous says:

      My stock reply is: “No, I’m going to the back to look for components,”

      They never bother me again…

  39. Anonymous says:

    As most of the other commentors below, I grew up in the Radio Shack stores of the 1980s, exploring the world of hobby electronics a handful of parts at a time. Most of my allowance went directly to the pegboards of parts in the back of the stores. Later, when I got my amateur radio license, my first radio was a Radio Shack HTX-212 mobile rig. That radio has been through it all, and despite a few repairs, is still plugging away in my shack.

    Then something terrible happened – Radio Shack, long a staple of the hobby electronics and ham radio worlds, decided that they no longer wanted our business. They cut back and eventually dropped their ham radio gear entirely, followed by their electronic component stock. They became more interested in selling TVs, cellphones, and toy cars than in even doing business with people who wanted to make and learn things for themselves – the market segment that made them what they were in the first place.

    Before they had dumped the hobby community entirely, I worked (for a thankfully short time) behind the counter of a Radio Shack store. I was shocked to discover what the electronics chain that had formed my childhood had become. The primary emphasis for their sales force was on your “dollar per ticket” rating. Selling resistors and capacitors for a few cents per pack didn’t look good on the weekly report, so we were “strongly encouraged” not to sell them, or to even clean and organize the parts areas any more than necessary. We were to emphasize the big-ticket items, encourage high-dollar sales, and ignore people poking around in the parts area in favor of those looking at the VCRs and audio equipment; if someone was interested in cellphones, we were to drop everything and sell to them. I decided that I was done with Radio Shack and found a new job when I was told, by the district manager – in so many words – that “you do what you have to do to make a sale – if that means lying to the customer, do it.”

    Since then, I have occasionally done business with them, but only when there is no other option for getting the part I need in hand when I need it. Most of the time they are of no use whatsoever. In the cases where I _can_ find what I need, the sales staff has no idea what they’re selling and I have to dig it out of their disorganized mess of parts drawers by myself.

    If Radio Shack is serious about winning back the do-it-yourself crowd, they have a long way to go. I would like to see a retailer with their coverage actually become a useful resource once again. Their previous attempts, carrying a handful of microcontroller products from Parallax, for example, or their short-lived experiment with the VEX Robotics products, have been half-hearted at best, with no support even from their own sales staff, who are usually ignorant of the products that they sell, and even proud of that fact (as my store manager was when I worked there).

    You mention that you would like constructive suggestions for changing their image. If they want any hope of regaining their relevance in the DIY and hobbyist communities, it will take a MAJOR revision of their policies, product lines, and attitudes. Right now, they are a cellphone, toy car, and gold-plated audio cable retailer. Sales staff that is knowledgeable about their stock, who can offer real, helpful assistance, and understand what someone is asking would be a good place to start. Although the Radio Shack name is still pariah in many ham radio circles, the fact remains that there are literally thousands of old HTX-202 and -404 handheld and HTX-212 mobile 2-meter radios on the air. Ham radio guys have long memories, and Radio Shack’s “slight” of the community will likely not be easily forgotten, but if they can win back their support, they would have reclaimed a broad customer base that was instrumental in making them big in the first place. I’m afraid that, after the way they effectively washed their hands of the hobbyist crowd, they might not be able to reclaim any significant market segment, though it might help somewhat if they were to “split the brand”, keeping their cellphone and expensive audio cable business but forming a new division that is aimed at, and actually cares about, the hobbyist community again. Even something as simple as a suggestion box would be a plus – some sort of connection to the wants and needs of their customer base, beyond the newest cellphone case or a plastic car that turns into a robot.

    My relationship with the Radio Shack brand parallels so many of the others here – it started out wonderfully, but was severely damaged by a series of poor marketing decisions on their part. Since then, I have moved on, expanding my horizons with online manufacturers and retailers who actually have an interest in serving the hobbyist community. Most of these companies are owned and operated by hobbyists who enjoy working on and talking about projects as much as their customers. They are interested in knowing what people are working on, and what they can do to help them achieve their goals and provide inspiration for their next project.

    The Radio Shack brand and I parted ways many years ago, and not on the best of terms. They took the customer base that allowed them to become a hugely successful worldwide electronics chain, slapped them in the face, and told them to take a flying leap. Like so many others, I leapt and that was that. We have since discovered new markets that fill the same niche more effectively, and new friends who lend support and advice when we need it. Can Radio Shack win back the love of the DIY and hobbyist community? Maybe, but they’ve got a long way to go, and their track record is spotty at best. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    1. Joshua Stark says:

      Alinco made the HTX line for RS. Just saying. Like a lot of things, Optimus=Pioneer. Still great radios though, I agree. Seriously were tanks.

  40. They are in a tough spot. Almost like the R/C airplane market in the 90′s. Back then, the local stores stayed in business by supporting the hobby directly through contest sponsorship and product giveaways, store coupons, etc… Despite mail order, you always need some ‘thing’ at 7pm on a Friday night, and thats where the local store shines.

    I’d like to see Radio Shack create a closer relationship with Make, Circuit Cellar Ink, and suppliers like Sparkfun to provide topical items of interest for hobbysts. The Radio Shack near me now stocks the BASIC Stamp and BoeBOT, but I would LOVE to see Make magazine and some Arduinos on the shelves as well.

    I still have an 8080 cpu I bought in the early 80′s for a project that never used. Remember the really good datasheets that were stapled to the backs of the component blister packs?

    As someone else posted, a 24 hour PC fab lab would also be a welcome addition.

    1. Calladus says:

      “As someone else posted, a 24 hour PC fab lab would also be a welcome addition.”

      If that was the only thing that Radio Shack added to their model, it would get me interested enough to come back by.

      If they set up the ability to create a simple and affordable 2-sided PCB according to my CAD files, “while you wait” – then I’d be there twice a week.

  41. this is really interesting. step one is getting me in the store, and that is all about those component drawers. the idea is brilliant, it’s just that there are not enough of them to cover the bases. double or quadruple the number of drawers and radio shack doubles or quadruples its usefulness to me (and gets back to its old glory as a diy pit stop). that can’t even cost that much in terms of square footage and stale inventory; this stuff is tiny and cheap. mark up the loose parts! it doesn’t matter! the point is not that the capacitors cost 1000% more than digikey, the point is that you can run out to the shop and grab one when you’re midway through a project and realize you’ve run out of 100uF caps.

    step two is making money off of me. i don’t think for an instant that a shop can pay rent selling capacitors no matter what the markup. assuming radio shack quadruples the bins, gets me in the store, and makes me feel all warm and friendly toward their brand again, i wonder what kind of cash cows they could put on the shelf that i’d want to buy? people like me, the diy bin crowd, already know that it’s stupid to shop for big ticket electronics anywhere other than amazon/newegg/etc., and that’s a tough act to follow.

    heh. they should just ditch the consumer electronics and sell beer and pizza along with the parts. now that’s a store i’d patronize.

  42. There will probably always be a place for both local and online component stores. Local has the advantage of saving time while online has the advantage of wider selection. If you want a resistor, go to a local store. If you want an Arduino, go online.

    Oh, and I had a TRS-80 too. I’m surprised Make Magazine hasn’t had an article yet on how to build your own TRS-80 out of an Arduino, cardboard tubes, cannibalized VCR parts, and lots of duct tape. Or did I miss it?

  43. Matt Smith says:

    Radio Shack is like Dick Smith Electronics in New Zealand, I can remember a time where I could have walked in and bought any component I needed, Now they carry basically nothing, resistors are the only thing they have in stock in great quantities.

  44. JamesB says:

    Radio Shack should work a distribution deal with SparkFun. Buy the parts off the shelf at Radio Shack, get help on the SparkFun forums, split the profits. They have cell phone vendor kiosks, why not a SparkFun kiosk in every RadioShack?

  45. anne speck says:

    Here’s hoping Adafruit, Sparkfun, Solarbotics, etc see big orders for retail products from this. I do order most of my stuff from Sparkfun but sometimes you get a wild idea and you just need to solder some stuff up.

    If the Shack is reading, one place you can start is by selling the 3-to-8s or LCD drivers that work with the 7-segment displays you sell. The mismatch there was hugely frustrating.

  46. Anonymous says:

    I’m encouraged by this and support it. I know RS isn’t what it used to be, but anything that advocates and advances the DIY and hacking culture is something I’m 100% in favor of. Personally, I like the idea of being able to go to a local store and avoid shipping costs that far exceed the cost of the item.

    On a side note, I’m bummed that I didn’t get that email, even though I’m subscribed to their list. Does anyone know if that is a different list than the normal marketing fluff one?

  47. Doug Kovach says:

    The shack has always been a parts source for me albeit only if “I really need it now” in the past few decades but there was a time years ago when I was teaching myself electronics (actually learning it as opposed to doing a few projects I found in my Electronics Now magazine.) There were a few annoying and alarming times during this past few decades when I would walk into a rat shack and ask for their parts area and discover they didn’t have anything at all! I remember walking into a local store and asking for a catalog and getting what the gentleman told me was the very last radio shack catalog ever (they put it online… a bad move), but as he continued “I will throw in this Cue Cat for free since we are giving them out with the catalogs”. I asked if he had another Cue Cat and he said he did and when I asked if I could have two he looked at me and obliged me saying sure I dont have anymore catalogs anyway, here ya go (I still have both with the drivers CDs). I have since discovered other local parts suppliers (I had to since I was learning tube electronics) who have larger selections than the shacks ever did. I taught myself tube electronics through recycling old TVs and Radios and so on and have since and thankfully discovered new suppliers for those NEW parts and yes now even online. Radio Shack has always had Tube Parts available online but never at a price that was realisitic enough to be able to consider them as a real supplier of my parts. I would indeed enjoy seeing them come back as a DIY community sponsor and supplier but they need to be realistic about the cost of the parts they sell as well as their selections. They must remember that a lot of their customers will be children who have small allowances to spend since I doubt many of the older nerds will much forgive them nowadays. Besides in this day and age who wants to feed the dragon when we have our own mouths that cannot be fed.

  48. The last time I walked into a Radio Shack (for parts for an HHO Rocket), I mentioned how I missed the good old days when they were a parts store. I got an earful from employees who said most of their business was still parts, and they were pressured to sell phones and other consumer goods. They were pretty bitter about it, and even though I shared the sentiment, it was a little off-putting. It’s been so long since I went in and knew less than the salesperson about the parts that when I’m not pressed for time, I just buy online.

  49. If Radio-shack is serious about wanting to become DIY heaven again, here’s what they ought to do:
    -Contact Wainwright Industries in Bavaria, and either arrange a sweet bulk deal for their “solder mount” (mini-mount) parts, or license the patents/etc and start producing them in the US. These are professional-quality prototyping boardlets with adhesive, built on real, specification-meeting PCboard material which allow mounting surface and through-hole parts (up to rediculously-over pinned quad-packs) and interconnecting them. When “solder mounts” are stuck onto a solid 1oz copper plain board, you can handle anything from DC to light with controllable ground-planes and impedence-matched paths.
    -License FPGA design software in versions specific to FPGAs that they will stock, sell it for cheap or give it away, and install an FPGA programmer at every one of their 2000 DIY pilot sites, connected to a computer with USB and SDHC slots. Result: DIY’ers can design their glue logic into FPGAs, buy the part and program it at the Shack, mount it on a solder mount board, stick it wherever it needs to go… and who needs to buy someone else’s shield, anyway?
    -Stock a selection of good, workhorse OTP microcontrollers, from more than one manufacturer, and make electrically-reprogrammable versions available for a reasonable price, so that someone can Make(tm) with distributed archetectures without breaking their bank.
    -Stock books, both how-to and reference, for all the chips they sell.
    -Make _reasonable_ kits of surface-mount parts at _reasonable_ prices, then also stock small bags at _reasonable_ prices of replacements. i.e., an 803 SMT resistor set, 0-100 ohms, 5each of 20 values in the range, $10. Then, small bags labeled with “803 XXXX $1.00″ where XXXX is the value of the resistors inside, which are 10 of that resistance value. Result? People will build with the kit, then restock the values they use, and it’ll be an actual business, rather than a boutique or a charity. Likewise with capacitors, common op-amps, common HCT or HC digital parts (if someone needs something more specific than HC or HCT will do, it’s time for them to go to Newark or whoever.) Don’t bother wasting money on TTL or other varieties.
    - One word: PEEL. (as in IDT Peel electrically-erasable reprogrammable logic arrays.)
    - Do some real research into solder. Publicize your findings. Be honest, realistic and non-political. Then stock the stuff that works. Period. _Then_, ensure that your ‘sales associates’ know how to solder using the tools and materials you stock, and have them give classes on Saturday mornings. (or afternoons, since your Geeks and your customers are less likely to know what that big yellow ball is for than which kind of vitamins help to make up for a lack of exposure to it!) Likewise programming uP’s and PGA’s and electronics design for hobbyists and the whole shebang!
    -Get someone to update Forest’s booklets. Be honest and self-serving, make them do it with the stuff you stock. (That works both ways: if they have good stuff in the booklet, and you aren’t planning to stock it, change your plans!) If I read it in a book with Radio-Shack on the front, and can’t buy the parts at Radio-Shack, it does me no good, and it does you even less good.
    -Split the store, or get rid of the sales managers and associates who believe that selling the wrong thing to a customer is good if they a) don’t come back (to exchange it or demand a refund or complain) or b) come back so you can sell them more things they don’t need and won’t solve their problem. This, more than anything else, is what has made Radio-Shack the place I only go to when I want to buy LEDs or relatively fresh button batteries from the clearance shelves. Bar the cellphone, computer, and keyboard salesmen from the electronics side of the store. No ifs, ands or buts, you won’t get DIY’s in the store if they have to wade through ignorance and self-aggrandizement just to get near the parts. Really.

    Radio-Shack, I wish you all the best in the world on this, if you’re serious. If you’re not, nothing will save you, but if you are, DIYers will support you when you can’t sell another cell…

  50. I grew up with rat shack older people extolling their “good ol days” and bumping into stories of TRS-80s and actual radio kits and other useful stuff while only ever seeing neglected and barren homebrew selections and constant battering to buy a cell phone or digital camera. If they plan to sluff off their RC car pushing, cell slinging, know-nothing sales staffing, upselling ways in favor of something more akin to their golden era then I’d be happy to see it, but I get the feeling this is just gonna be a half-hearted still largely useless “revamp” to try and toss a bone to what was their bread and butter. If they say they’re behind DIYers and don’t turn out to be I say screw them and more power to any other companies/hackerspaces/sites that have filled in the gap left by radio shack’s telling their original customer base to get bent.

    Why can’t I just have a Fry’s Electronics on the east coast near where I live? :

  51. Dark says:

    I remember going into a Radio Shack in Washington back in the late 90′s. To buy the simplest things, a few resistors or an LED, you were treated like a bomb-making terrorist. They needed a three page form filled out and they asked you so many questions – and they’d always be suspicious of your answers, as if a couple resistors, a battery holder, and five LEDs being for lighting a model kit was absurd! I figured that was the biggest part of their decline since after 9/11, they ramped up the abuse so much that it made people stop going NEAR a Radio Shack to the point whole sections of 5 store fronts withered away where one was.

  52. I noticed my local RS now carries about 20 different Velleman Kits along with the Mims’ Notebooks. Pretty cool. Not too terribly priced for the kits. $10-$30 or so.

  53. JennaSys says:

    Like a lot of others here I frequented RS quite a bit in the 80′s. At that time, mail order parts took weeks to get and it wasn’t always easy to figure out what you needed. RS’s biggest benefit at the time was the hands-on selection and the immediate gratification. Now I have a have Fry’s and a few other independent part stores within a hour or so driving range, and ordering from online sources gets me my parts in a few days.

    I personally have an increased loyalty to the likes of DigiKey, Mouser, and Jameco more now than I did back then. Unlike RS, they have really embraced the hobbyist market and their customer service has improved dramatically over the years. At the same time, I also try to support the smaller specialty places like Sparkfun, Adafruit, and Makershed when I can as well. And on the other end of the spectrum there’s also eBay which provides a conduit for purchasing parts directly form overseas suppliers.

    I would welcome RS to try and become a DIY haven again, but I think that ship has already sailed for them. If they are serious about it though they HAVE to have someone on staff at each location that can talk-the-talk. Catering to the newbie maker demographic as a source of education would probably be their best bet for success. They should be able to provide them with components, kits, tools, information (in-store and online), and sponsor local activities (science fairs, maker faires, robot clubs, etc). While hosting full-on hackerspaces might be asking too much, I see no reason why they couldn’t sponsor local meetup groups.

    They would need to leverage their physical presence as a differential over all of the other component sources if they want to compete for the DIY dollar. They might also pick a few niche areas to specialize in – perhaps focusing on items that aren’t shipping friendly like heavy motors or bulky batteries, or becoming the “go-to place” for something like project enclosures. I built a lot of my first circuits using RS parts and experimenter kits, and certainly have to give them credit them for feeding my budding obsession with electronics at the time. I don’t see why they couldn’t do that for another generation. Oh, and bring back the surprise boxes :-)

  54. Oscar says:

    I fondly remember oohing and ahhing at the possibilities that existed at RS when I was a kid. My recent memory of RS is much gloomier…me and a friend of mine were looking for a battery for his phone when we saw how much they wanted, I turned to him and said “Look, yesterday’s technology at tomorrow’s prices!” That being said, I’d love to see them make a comeback. Sometimes, being able to get it NOW is worth a paying little more and I stress little.

  55. To be brief, this is potentially a step in the right direction. Unfortunately it may have come 5-15 years too late to save them.

    If they want to do this, and do it RIGHT, they need to become the parts and kits seller of today, not yesteryear. They will need to remodel, redesign their sales model, forge/reforge good relationships with lots of vendors and companies, and so many more things.

    In particular they should start specifically with selling the products of those such as Sparkfun (which does sell packaged retail versions of it’s products) and Adafruit, you mentioned them, which have a good reputation in the community for quality products. Such companies also tend to sell what is trending, which could alleviate the need for Radioshack, early on at least, to constantly keep a close eye on that market. If they could bring Sparkfun and Adafruit products to the masses at a local store without having to wait for shipping they could potentially revive some of their business fairly quickly. We all like those companies and their easy retail, but if radioshack could FIX and reshape themselves enough, they could easily become commonly associated with them (which if it went well could only be to their benefit) — at least as a distributor.

    Further they need to get prices back under control, a bunch of cheap capacitors with low shipping easily beat one or a couple for ~$4 (and you have to drive there — and with gas prices going up…). The examples go on.

    Also, to fully engage in this they will need to consider scrapping the retail end of cellphones and other devices (Walmart has this covered) and focus on replacing batteries (they have a good selection some places), selling accessories and providing other related services. That helps minimize upfront costs, but helps to keep customers. Imagine if you could take your phone to a radioshack and get it fixed within a couple of days instead of shipping it to the company and it taking three weeks. Maybe they could convince the phone companies of the merits of that (at the very least in terms of good PR for the phone manufacturer).

    Naturally, I think they could bounce back, but it will take hereto unknown willingness to adapt and change and the cooperation of other entities who might have no reason to want to help and maybe even reasons against doing so. For instance, Sparkfun might suffer negative PR working with them, or make less money that way.

    The key to this is LOCAL. They can succeed if they can persuade the local market to come to them instead of big box retailer and to get the products of online retailers through them.

    ** KEY: They need to add as little markup to as they are feasibly capable of doing and still breaking even or making some profit. That is, the increase in cost must be equivalent to the increase in convenience **

    Now, I’m rambling, so I’ll end it here.

  56. I think the bigger question here is what is Radio Shack anyway? Are they a consumer electronics retailer, an electronics hobby shop, a computer store, a toy store (think all those RC toys), a cellphone retailer, stereo store, what? For every one of those categories, there’s a company out there that poses a significant threat to them (Best Buy, Sparkfun/Adafruit/Jameco/etc., Dell/Apple, your local hobby store, any strip mall cellphone store, Crutchfield, etc.)

    What, then, could they use to differentiate themselves? Convenience? Well, most people here already seem to use them solely for that. The old Sunday-at-4pm-I-need-a-transistor routine. Is that enough to support a (re)expansion into the DIY market? Will the carrying cost of maintaining 4000 parts be outweighed by the convenience premium from this market?

    I can’t really see them being successful with the market using their current business model. And if I were someone like Sparkfun or Adafruit, I would not retail through them with their current model. The customer will not compartmentalize the general cluelessness of a typical Radio Shack employee when problems arise: “The guy at Radio Shack said this boosty-minty thingy would charge my laptop computer! It won’t! And he said I could solder it with this 100W iron with a 1/2″ thick tip that he sold me. What a piece of junk.” Guilt by association.

    The only way for them to be successful with the DIY market is to find some balance of product inventory and availability that matches up with broad range of the DIY market. You need to be able to sell to those of us who make our own PCBs to those just getting started, and everywhere in between. Unfortunately, this would require technical expertise and a sales incentive plan that does not encourage them to oversell. As we all know, that’s gone. Radio Shack is slowing learning the example of Circuit City. This expertise would be critical for some of the good ideas other have provided here (such as the PCB manufacturing option). With it, Sparkfun and the like has much less reputation risk if they were to retail through Radio Shack.

    If I were them, I’d do the store-within-a-store concept to test this out in certain markets. If you can’t make it work in high population areas with a good DIY/tech community, you’re not going to make it work elsewhere.

    And I bet with a decent compensation plan, they could easily find the right people for this. Get paid to talk to people about hacking projects like the ones you like to work on.

  57. RadioShack says:

    Hey everyone – Sarah from RadioShack here. We’ve been passing this article around our office and have read each comment. Thank you all for sharing your stories, hopes, suggestions and frustrations. I just want to let you all know that we’re listening. And we look forward to connecting with those of you who are passionate about the maker community. Let’s continue the conversation; tweet us @RadioShack or visit us on Facebook. There’s more to come, and we can’t wait. Thanks again!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Sarah, I’m the Editor in Chief of the MAKE website. Thanks for your comments. It’s great to know that RS is listening to makers and thinking about how to improve the DIY aspects of your stores. As you can see from the passion expressed here, Radio Shack is a beloved and storied brand among our community. Many of us, including myself, got our start in hobby electronics thanks to the Radio Shack of a few decades back. It’d be so great to see the company embrace, inspire, and outfit a new generation of makers. As you say, let’s continue the conversation.

  58. I’ve worked for Radio Shack as a sales associate for the past few months and have been one of the few employees in the district to be able to answer DIY questions. When I can’t answer them I help the customers look up the answer on the firewall laden and archaic computers they provide us.

     As a long time reader, I genuinely care when Makers come in trying to figure out projects. I happen to be in an area where most of the customers don’t speak English and the manager was essentially hired to be a translator. I have no problem with this and the manager is a great salesman. Re-read that… “a great salesman”. I feel as though I am not being used to the extent that I could be somewhere else, and I know exactly why.

     I am constantly harassed by my “manager” to sell cellphones or service plans and am constantly threatened with my job. Today I actually left half way through my shift because my manager, once again, started up a sale then pawned it off to me “as a favor”. Usually this would be a great opportunity to hit a $200+ ring credit. but I’ve been burned too many times in the past by my manager starting a dishonest sale and myself having to spend an hour correcting it. If this sounds like I’m making things up, think about this situation:

    You walk into your local Radio Shack attempting to start up a new AT&T line for your elderly father. The associate was great listening to your needs and “qualifying” you for a new line only costing $9.99 a month extra. There was no mention of a prepaid Tracfone after you inquired about cancelling the line if your father died. Another associate mentions the Tracfone, you go with it and next bill you receive from AT&T has an additional line that RS “removed”. Hey, guess what? you’re stuck with that for 2 years or until you mail in a death certificate.

    That isn’t a fabricated story, that happened in my store and that customer has to deal with the repercussions of an untrained manager hired from a failed business. On the subject of failed businesses, our Regional Manager is from another failed business venture, Blockbuster.

    When Radio Shack updates its training and hiring processes, maybe it will be able to retain customers who are as continually impressed with it’s customer service and product selection as us Makers.

    I gladly await a response from Sarah from #RadioShack. I would also enjoy to be able to find the HR number online for RS to report harassment

  59. Anonymous says:

    Probably the most intelligent (and intelligible) stream of posts I’ve ever seen for an article. 

    Best of luck to RS. In their defense, I remember the 90s, there were very few “makers”. Hell, no one even worked on their cars. RS couldn’t have survived on the few gray-hairs that wandered in. I suspect they wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t latched on to cell phones and crappy R/C cars. Now that there is a market, I think they are, despite the years of neglect, poised (and willing?) to make a real difference in the DIY community. Imagine a store stick with Adafruit and Sparkfun stuff! I wouldn’t worry about knowledgable staff issues, either. Where do you think the high-school, nerd, DIY, AVC competitor is going to put in an application? That problem will take care of itself the minute RS shows they are serious. 

    It’s NOT too late Radio Shack. You’re in a good spot. I hope you are serious. 

  60. Anonymous says:

    Probably the most intelligent (and intelligible) stream of posts I’ve ever seen for an article. 

    Best of luck to RS. In their defense, I remember the 90s, there were very few “makers”. Hell, no one even worked on their cars. RS couldn’t have survived on the few gray-hairs that wandered in. I suspect they wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t latched on to cell phones and crappy R/C cars. Now that there is a market, I think they are, despite the years of neglect, poised (and willing?) to make a real difference in the DIY community. Imagine a store stick with Adafruit and Sparkfun stuff! I wouldn’t worry about knowledgable staff issues, either. Where do you think the high-school, nerd, DIY, AVC competitor is going to put in an application? That problem will take care of itself the minute RS shows they are serious. 

    It’s NOT too late Radio Shack. You’re in a good spot. I hope you are serious. 

  61. Anonymous says:

    Probably the most intelligent (and intelligible) stream of posts I’ve ever seen for an article. 

    Best of luck to RS. In their defense, I remember the 90s, there were very few “makers”. Hell, no one even worked on their cars. RS couldn’t have survived on the few gray-hairs that wandered in. I suspect they wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t latched on to cell phones and crappy R/C cars. Now that there is a market, I think they are, despite the years of neglect, poised (and willing?) to make a real difference in the DIY community. Imagine a store stick with Adafruit and Sparkfun stuff! I wouldn’t worry about knowledgable staff issues, either. Where do you think the high-school, nerd, DIY, AVC competitor is going to put in an application? That problem will take care of itself the minute RS shows they are serious. 

    It’s NOT too late Radio Shack. You’re in a good spot. I hope you are serious. 

  62. Anonymous says:

    Probably the most intelligent (and intelligible) stream of posts I’ve ever seen for an article. 

    Best of luck to RS. In their defense, I remember the 90s, there were very few “makers”. Hell, no one even worked on their cars. RS couldn’t have survived on the few gray-hairs that wandered in. I suspect they wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t latched on to cell phones and crappy R/C cars. Now that there is a market, I think they are, despite the years of neglect, poised (and willing?) to make a real difference in the DIY community. Imagine a store stick with Adafruit and Sparkfun stuff! I wouldn’t worry about knowledgable staff issues, either. Where do you think the high-school, nerd, DIY, AVC competitor is going to put in an application? That problem will take care of itself the minute RS shows they are serious. 

    It’s NOT too late Radio Shack. You’re in a good spot. I hope you are serious. 

  63. Anonymous says:

    Probably the most intelligent (and intelligible) stream of posts I’ve ever seen for an article. 

    Best of luck to RS. In their defense, I remember the 90s, there were very few “makers”. Hell, no one even worked on their cars. RS couldn’t have survived on the few gray-hairs that wandered in. I suspect they wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t latched on to cell phones and crappy R/C cars. Now that there is a market, I think they are, despite the years of neglect, poised (and willing?) to make a real difference in the DIY community. Imagine a store stick with Adafruit and Sparkfun stuff! I wouldn’t worry about knowledgable staff issues, either. Where do you think the high-school, nerd, DIY, AVC competitor is going to put in an application? That problem will take care of itself the minute RS shows they are serious. 

    It’s NOT too late Radio Shack. You’re in a good spot. I hope you are serious. 

  64. Anonymous says:

    Probably the most intelligent (and intelligible) stream of posts I’ve ever seen for an article. 

    Best of luck to RS. In their defense, I remember the 90s, there were very few “makers”. Hell, no one even worked on their cars. RS couldn’t have survived on the few gray-hairs that wandered in. I suspect they wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t latched on to cell phones and crappy R/C cars. Now that there is a market, I think they are, despite the years of neglect, poised (and willing?) to make a real difference in the DIY community. Imagine a store stick with Adafruit and Sparkfun stuff! I wouldn’t worry about knowledgable staff issues, either. Where do you think the high-school, nerd, DIY, AVC competitor is going to put in an application? That problem will take care of itself the minute RS shows they are serious. 

    It’s NOT too late Radio Shack. You’re in a good spot. I hope you are serious. 

  65. Anonymous says:

    There’s one thing Radio Shack can give that Adafruit and SparkFun, as wonderful as they are, can’t. Instant gratification. When you fry your last transistor on Sunday afternoon, it’s reassuring that there’s a good chance you can be back up and operating after a quick trip to RS.

  66. Anonymous says:

    There’s one thing Radio Shack can give that Adafruit and SparkFun, as wonderful as they are, can’t. Instant gratification. When you fry your last transistor on Sunday afternoon, it’s reassuring that there’s a good chance you can be back up and operating after a quick trip to RS.

  67. Anonymous says:

    There’s one thing Radio Shack can give that Adafruit and SparkFun, as wonderful as they are, can’t. Instant gratification. When you fry your last transistor on Sunday afternoon, it’s reassuring that there’s a good chance you can be back up and operating after a quick trip to RS.

  68. Anonymous says:

    There’s one thing Radio Shack can give that Adafruit and SparkFun, as wonderful as they are, can’t. Instant gratification. When you fry your last transistor on Sunday afternoon, it’s reassuring that there’s a good chance you can be back up and operating after a quick trip to RS.

  69. Anonymous says:

    There’s one thing Radio Shack can give that Adafruit and SparkFun, as wonderful as they are, can’t. Instant gratification. When you fry your last transistor on Sunday afternoon, it’s reassuring that there’s a good chance you can be back up and operating after a quick trip to RS.

  70. [...] “I don’t know if it’s really too little too late but if the Shack is really trying, they need to kill the 15000 cellphones and get back to what I always thought they were about: helping people.” Radio Shack Decides It Loves DIYers After All [...]

  71. Anonymous says:

    if Home Depot can have seminars to show you how to lay tile, it doesn’t seem like such a stretch that somebody, even a volunteer, could assemble one of the old Science Fair project kits or do something on a breadboard once a week, in the store, before an audience.

  72. Mike Brooks says:

    I live near Eugene, Oregon and went looking for the a Raspberry Pi, as Christmas gifts. I found them at only one store in Springfield; drove there and bought the last two they had. According to the manager, they have been “flying off the shelves”. I, also, bought a digital VOM, their nice digital soldering station, an Arduino, and several shield kits. I, for one, am delighted to have Radio Shack back and intend to reward them with my business and my friends business. I am waiting for them to restock and will be buying two more as after Christmas gifts. Radio Shack even carries two really great Radio Shack branded electronics parts kits for Pi and Arduino. The $99 kit is particularly complete and well worth the price.

    Something REALLY interesting about the Springfield store was their carrying lots of amateur radio parts and accessories. They even had silver PL259 connectors and 50 foot rolls of RG8X coax, antenna wire, baluns, even 2 meter antennas.