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Radio Shack: Still Relevant for Neighborhood Engineers?

3/4/2014 05:30 PM EST
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Clive
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Re: Lost focus
Clive "Max" Maxfield   3/5/2014 9:44:51 AM
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@Rich: I expect the Make movement to fade within a generation.

Sad Face :-(

betajet
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Re: You also mentioned Lafayette
betajet   3/5/2014 9:44:51 AM
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daleste wrote: I think RS will go the route of Heathkit.

Heathkit may be coming back.    Currently they're in "stealth" mode, whatever that means.  From the FAQs and the reddit comments, it sounds like they're seeing what products might be viable.  Reading between the lines, it's most likely ham gear since that niche is too small to interest Asian competition.

Heathkit FAQ

reddit comments

Personally, I think they should go with electric car retrofits. Given the morass of electronic gewgaws that new cars shove down your throat, I think there's a niche market for people who want to make a simple, clean electric car without 10 million lines of undocumented code between the pedals, the engine, and the brakes.

RichQ
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Re: Lost focus
RichQ   3/5/2014 9:35:05 AM
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I think that would give Radio Shack a boost, but this, too, is only temporary. I expect the Make movement to fade within a generation.

Bill_Jaffa
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What they carry
Bill_Jaffa   3/5/2014 7:49:14 AM
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The RS in your story carries a lot more variety than the one near me. Yours has Arduino and higher-end products, mine has mostly cell phones, cell accessories, batteries, and cables. Plus some basic connectors and discrete components in drawers, it's a real odd inventory.

David Ashton
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RS type stores
David Ashton   3/5/2014 5:00:42 AM
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When I first arrived in Australia, nearly 12 years ago, we had 2 electronics stores in town - Dick Smith - a chain started by a gentleman of the same name who was an entrepreneurial ex-telco technician, and a Tandy - Australian (in fact I think rest-of-world as I saw them in Paris as well) arm of RS.

Dick Smith sold out to a supermarket based chain who soon removed all the electronics bits (I got some real bargains there) and who have now onsold it again - it now only sells TVs, Phones, Laptops, printers, etc, and odd cables and batteries if you're lucky.

The Australian Tandys all closed but the franchisees of some of them - including in my town - went to a different supplier.  They still stock electronics bits. but I probably have a better stock at home than they do....so very rarely buy that sort of thing.  I occasionally need AV cables and the like, which both stores stock, but I always tend to patronise the ex-Tandy one first, because they stock more electronics bits and I'd like to keep them going.

Neither stock things like Ras PIs, I don't think there would be much of a market for them in our small (pop 35000) town.   

It is sad that these shops are getting fewer and further between, but there is just so much stuff available these days that I doubt they could keep everyone happy, especially when (as someone above pointed out) you can get stuff via mail order so quickly).  I fear they will die out completely, like Mock Electronics in Max's hometown, and they had some really tasty stuff.   I'll certainly feel their loss, but I don't know that we can stop it.....

 

zeeglen
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Re: You also mentioned Lafayette
zeeglen   3/4/2014 11:23:04 PM
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>I think RS will go the route of Heath kit

Funny you should mention this, brings back some memories.  Long ago I worked at a Heathkit retail store in Winnipeg Canada, and there was a Radio Shack right next door.  We enjoyed a bit of friendly rivaly, our H8 computer against their TRaSh 80 (as we jokingly referred to it).


The RS manager liked to build Heathkits.  One day he came in with a digital clock pcb that did not work, I told him probably a solder bridge.  He denied this, claiming he had thoroughly inspected his soldering.  My trained eyes spotted the solder bridge in just a few seconds.  He was slightly embarrased, but it worked after he removed the bridge.


I did send some business his way. One of Heathkit's most miserable failures was a general-coverage shortwave receiver (SW717).  Even without an antenna connected, tuning across the dial produced oscillatory sounds like a scalded cat. When a customer came in wanting to buy one, I gently informed him that he would be much happier going next door.


RS has outlasted Heathkit, but with many RS stores stocking fewer parts for the hardware hobbyist it is understandable that they are in decline.


daleste
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Re: You also mentioned Lafayette
daleste   3/4/2014 10:43:10 PM
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Ah, yes.  Heath kit.  I think RS will go the route of Heath kit.  It is a shame since I spent a lot of time in RS during my high school years.  I think there are too many better options today due to Frys and Digi-Key.  RS will not survive.  I wish I could build a Heath kit since I never got to do it in my younger days.  Now I need to invent something new instead.  Too much pressure.

rich.pell
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Still relevant for anyone?
rich.pell   3/4/2014 10:36:08 PM
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Bert22306
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The signs were clear
Bert22306   3/4/2014 9:17:33 PM
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When all of the Radio Shack stores took their interesting items off the pegboards, and crammed them in those drawers to be forgotten and never replenished, I could see where it was leading.

Fry's is a California phenomenon. And even there, not necessarily a stone's throw away. Whereas Radio Shack stores are everywhere. I fixed new and old electronic equipment, with Radio Shack parts, more than once. Just hop in the car and buy what you need in minutes. I replaced the woofers in my nice speaker systems with Radio Shack drivers. I built a stereo preamp from scratch, with Radio Shack parts. I even bought my first HDTV STB from Radio Shack (a very decent, for those days, Accurian receiver, actually made by Digital Stream).

It's a shame to see what came of Radio Shack. Any options are either very few and far between, with inconvenient hours, or online. Nothing wrong with online, but it's not like walking into the neighorhood store Saturday night, to buy those resistors you need NOW, while you're on the way to dinner and the movies!

rick merritt
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Re: Lost focus
rick merritt   3/4/2014 9:10:50 PM
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@RichQ: You may have hit on what Radio Shack needs to revitalize itself...become the retail outlet for the Make group. Whadaya think?

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