I have many fond memories of various electronics shops. What's your favorite?
I have been interested in electronics since I was “knee-high to a grasshopper” as the saying goes, and thus (like many readers of these columns) electronics shops hold a special fascination for me. (My wife, on the other hand, prefers jewellery shops, and when we were in London once, although she wouldn’t let me go into an electronics shop, when we were passing Garrards Jewellers in Regent Street and I (foolishly) remarked that the Queen got her jewellery from there, she insisted on going in. I will say that the salesman treated us like a cashed-up middle-eastern oil potentate and his wife, not like a pair of almost-penniless Zimbabweans. But I digress…)
I have many fond memories of various electronics shops. The few in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) in my youth, were not that well stocked and we got used to the response “No, don’t have anything like that!” I’d hitch-hike 10 km out of town to get 2N3055 power transistors for $3 instead of $5.
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Venturing further afield, I found the memorable Hamrad in Johannesburg and A1 Radio in Durban in South Africa, and also various shops in Edgware Road in London (where, coming from Zimbabwe, I felt like a kid in a candy store and exited sated with the goodies therein). Dick Smith and Tandy were the only two in Bathurst in Australia where I now live, when I moved here 14 years ago. Dick Smith was started (in the proverbial garage, in 1968) by a gentleman of the same name, who used to work for Telstra, the then Australian government telecoms monopoly. He made millions from it, but sold it in 1982. It was sold again in 2012. Along the way it has changed from an electronics shop to a computer-printer-phone-camera shop, and as I write has just announced that it will be closing due (we hear) to bad management. Quite sad, though in their various clearances of electronics-related stuff I have done very well. The Tandy shop in Bathurst was taken over privately and still exists under another name, and is my first port of call if I need something in a hurry.
But, like everywhere else, the main street electronics shop has generally gone the way of the dodo. Max wrote not too long ago about Mock Electronics in his town, and that’s now closed as well. Everything is online now and internet stores can stock a far larger inventory, much cheaper, than an expensive city-based store. I have my favorites in Australia saved in my browser, and there are a few of them….. We have the big ones - Element 14 (Farnell/Newark), RS and recently Digikey, plus a host of smaller ones. The big guys have anything you could ever want, but tend to have high and inflexible prices, though Element 14 maintain a clearance page and I’ve got some good deals there. The smaller guys have some excellent prices, and I thought I had most of the worthwhile ones in my favorites list, but I hung my head in shame when Max sent me a message the other day saying “Hi David…check this out…have you heard of him?” and I hadn’t. The link Max sent me was http://www.bradsprojects.com/brads-electronics-shop/
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