The Wall Street Journal reported today that Radio Shack will close 1,100 stores, or about 20% of its total. Frankly, I've wondered how Radio Shack has survived this long anyway.
There is a Radio Shack in my local area, known as Coolidge Corner (see photo below). I go in once in a while if I happen to be on the block, but I hardly ever buy anything. I did buy a tool for making Ethernet cables and a few RJ-45 connectors for home wiring, plus some F-type connectors and a crimping tool for connecting cable TV.
The Radio Shack store in Coolidge Corner in Brookline, Mass., has been there for years and shows no signs of closing. Location, location, location.
Radio Shack stores vary greatly from one to the next. From a hobbyist or designer perspective, this store has a good selection -- for Radio Shack -- of components such as resistors, capacitors, and LEDs. It also carries soldering irons, meters, and even Arduino and Raspberry Pi kits. See the following pages for photos.
I was honestly surprised to see so many hobby products at the local store. But in general, why buy components from a Radio Shack when you can buy them online from major distributors such as Digi-Key and, in some cases, receive your parts the next day if you're willing to pay the delivery charge? If you happen to live near a real electronics component store such as You-Do-It Electronics or Fry's, you'll likely find more of the parts you need there than at Radio Shack.
There was a time when you could buy CB radios and other gear at Radio Shack. Then the company began selling computers such as its own TRS-80. No more. Now you can get phones and TVs, but why buy them there when you have so many other outlets -- often at better prices.
There was also a time when we had more local electronics stores that sold real parts and equipment, not just consumer devices. For example, do you remember Lafayette Radio Electronics in the New York area? I remember visiting the flagship store in Syosset with my father. The place seemed to have everything.
Some Lafayette catalogues are still floating around. The photo below shows one for sale at a local electronics swapfest known as the Flea at MIT. Last year, I also found a 1961 catalogue Linear Electronics. That Waltham, Mass., company existed into the early 1990s. In fact, I would regularly buy components for design when I worked at Extech, which was also in Waltham at the time. Linear Electronics was a tiny store, and it was a mess, yet it often had the components I needed.
A catalogue from Lafayette Radio Electronics, formerly of Syosset, N.Y.
A 1961 catalogue from Linear Electronics of Waltham, Mass.
Do you ever buy from Radio Shack? Is that because it's the only electronics store in your area? (I don't consider stores such as Best Buy to be electronics stores.) I can see myself buying from Radio Shack only when I need something right away and it happens to be in stock, as was the sace when adding connectors to the new home Ethernet and cable wiring.
To Page 2: Components at my local Radio Shack