If Radio Shack has gotten rid of the high pressure cell phone sales people, started hiring nerds again, and started stocking the kind of things I need when I want to finish a project but don't want to schlep out to Fry's or wait for an order from Amazon for, I might return. But, it's been a long time since I've been to a Radio Shack, and I rarely think of them as the place I should go for anything, since they trained me out of that habit.
I have to admit that carrying Arduino and other assorted tinkerers toys does make me think maybe the company at least has some of its old spirit. I guess we'll have to see what comes of it. Next time I pass one, I'll probably take a stroll around...I'll know whether they've gotten good again by whether I walk out empty handed or not.
"Radio Shack: You've got questions, we've got more!"
I'm gonna let Radio Shack make the first move in our reunion story.
There are tons of electronics geeks still around from Arduino builders to car audiophiles building custom circuits to the RC crowd - and no one serves them. Right now half RS's inventory is available at Best Buy, Walmart and every other store with an electronics department. There's a very profitable niche waiting for them if they're willing to do what they do best.
Employing a few guys who know what they're doing would help too. The local ham radio club and computer and electronics engineering faculties would be a good place to start recruiting.
I look forward to a day when perhaps Radio Shack will sell kits and electronic components... even if it's more expensive than Digikey. There aren't really any nationwide brick-and-mortar electronics stores, but there are plenty of consumer electronics + cell phone stores... I'd love to see Radio Shack making money with a new business model.
Well, I've found radioshack sells cables far cheaper than the equivalent at best buy.
Obviously, online is cheaper than any retail.
We recently got an apple store though, I would never have thought to look there for cables. For some reason assumed they'd be overpriced... :)
DIY is a small subset of the population and a smart one. They're going to buy this stuff online, whether Radio Shack stocks it or not.
I read a AMA from a McD exec who said people are always complaining about them needing more healthy choices. Well, whenever they add them, no one buys them. The people who want that stuff aren't going to eat at McDonalds anyway, so why waste inventory space.
So, sure, i'd love to be able to be able to get in my car and get an arduino board and some servos, but I'm not sure if that one one trip a year or two from me is worth it.
- Price cables and connectors at only a slight markup from monoprice levels (cover the overhead costs, but basically sell without any profit margin)
- Stock every single high traffic component possible at just slightly higher markup than digitech
- Sell components for custom PC builds (a la Fry's, CPUs, RAM etc.), charge slightly less than Fry's, slightly more than newegg, etc., but only stock components that are highly recommended by Tom's Hardware and other respected build guides. Have employees build machines with these parts and know what will go wrong, advise customers accordingly.
So where do the big profits come from?
Give free support to walk-ins, one time only, charge on subsequent support requests. Become a non-ripoff/know-nothing version of geek squad.
Free one-time support is not going to make this strategy profitable.
Is this still true of the place? Or did I go during a bad period in their history?
We need new cool stuff. The old stuff's all sad.
I would love to see them go back to basics, with drawers upon drawers of components and wires and stuff. Seems like nobody likes doing that stuff on their own nowadays.
However, that was back when Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T stores weren't as easy to find as they are now. I imagine they're not able to attract nearly as much cellphone traffic as they did before.
The salesman just sneered at me and didn't even trouble to ring it up; he just gave it to me and waved me out the door.
I haven't been back.
I'll stop by one this morning, I'm curious if they've changed at all.
I just attended an all day Arduino workshop a few weeks back and it was a blast. Talking afterwards it seemed everyones number one request was to get a local vendor to stock some of the more common Arduino parts. I sure hope Radio Shack is listening.
Still, an FPGA could be even cooler than an Arduino if it were reprogrammable.
I went there to get a USB cable the other day. The only normal male-male USB cable they were stocking had gold-plated ends (for reasons unknown), a big non-standard bulge in the connector at one end, and a ludicrously grandiose package, festooned with details about how this was a USB "transfer" cable, specially designed to transfer data between Windows computers.
For this reason, apparently, it was necessary to price it at $40. That's forty dollars. For a USB cable.
I laughed in the clerk's face while he was explaining to me about the "transfer cable" nonsense, told him he just lost a customer forever, and left.
Maybe overpriced but it was likely not just a USB cable if it was called a "transfer" cable.
A standard USB cable is a type A plug to type B plug--is that what you mean by "male-male"? Did the RS cable have type A to type B or type A to Type A connectors?
Edit: Actually, I'm guessing it's this one: http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=107951... (My curiosity is now satisfied. :) I'm guessing my search failed earlier because the cable doesn't actually have "USB" in the name.)
But getting pressured to sign long multi-year contracts for thousands of dollars when you go into a store to buy a connector is.
That's why I'll probably never go back to Radio Shack, even if they did stock capacitors again.