Radio Shack – Dead?
Stumbled on this story about Radio Shack from eight years ago – funny, but sadly true!
Even CEO Can’t Figure Out How Radio Shack Still In Business
Apr 23, 2007
FORT WORTH, TX—Despite having been on the job for nine months, Radio Shack 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 Radio Shack 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 “Radio Shack” — 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 Radio Shack’s continued solvency involves wedding DJs, emergency cord replacement, and off-brand wireless telephones. Another theory entails countless Radio Shack 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.”
Will Radio Shack survive 2015?
Along with a string of many other “national” retail chains, Radio Shack is also teetering – by entering the bankruptcy stage of their existence. Will we have another “for rent” spot on Washington St. soon?
“Spiraling toward irrelevance”
Here’s what “the media” wrote:
“The 94-year-old chain that started in the 1920s with a store in Boston traced the rise of electronics in the life of Americans—from transistor radios and typewriters to Bluetooth headphones and smartphones. It grew into a nationwide icon but began spiraling toward irrelevance as electronics moved to the Web and technology moved on.”
Bad timing? What was the real reason Radio Shack fizzled?
See I’m wondering what the actual reason(s) for Radio Shack’s troubles are:
- Poor management? Failure to “respond” to market demand?
- The advent of certain technologies? (tablets & smartphones)
- The disappearance of their core customers? (DIY, fixer-uppers, etc.)
In the end, it’s most likely “a combination of” those and more.
But they’re all related to some degree. I used to work for Radio Shack back in the 80’s. And the even though there were emerging technologies like computers with “GUI’s,” and mobile phones – A good chunk of their business came from people who liked building things, fixing their own problems. Wires, transistors, soldering guns (does anyone even have one of those anymore?), fuses, capacitors, antennas, and a whole lot of other stuff (stereo equipment and speakers were also big, along with remote control toys around Christmas).
And sure, there is a new emerging trend of “DIY” hackers out there who fashion circuit boards and make gadgety stuff – but they’re a very tiny minority of the available customer base – and they probably buy their stuff online (since Radio Shack abandoned most of that “hobby” stuff a long time ago.)
Many say that Radio Shack was “a day late and a dollar short” when it came to the market itself. Sure, they could have responded faster to the almost “all-in” mobile phone market – but that would have alienated their previous loyal customers even faster – so it may not have made a difference.
Perhaps Radio Shack was just one of those places that was meant to be a temporary phase in the evolution (devolution) of mankind.
Maybe if they don’t go 100% out of business – the next best idea would be to turn all their existing stores into “Prepper’s HQ” type outlets for the HUGE market of people getting ready for when SHTF? Batteries, solar, water purifiers, food rations, hunting gear, etc.
You never know… that could save the day for them (and some people!)
Radio Shack makes facade look less shacky
You know? Those guys at Radio Shack must have ESP… because I was about to publish some pictures of how the place literally looked like a “shack,” with peeling paint and cruddy exterior. What do you know? They spruced up the joint by putting a fresh coat of paint on and removing the ugly & rusty security shutter. Great move!
Description: Consumer Electronics Specialty Retailer Chain selling Batteries, Adapters, Computer accessories, Electronic Components, Electronic Kits, Games & Toys, Office, Home Automation, Telephones & Communications, Test & Measurement, TV/Audio/Video, Wire, Cable, Hardware & Tools, Wireless Accessories
Address: 218 Washington Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Telephone: (201) 459-0490