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UberGerbil
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End of an E®A

Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:02 pm

Image

Took this photo a few weeks back but forgot about it. Frankly I was surprised there were any locations in the area still in business.

This particular RS store is right by where I went to university, and 30 years ago I was a happy member of their ridiculous "battery club" -- picking up a 9-volt every month to power the stomp boxes I used with my electric guitar.

RIP
 
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Re: End of an E®A

Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:27 pm

The one in my town is still open, too, but I'm sure it's not long for this world. It's had the same sorts of signs on the front for what feels like months.
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Re: End of an E®A

Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:28 pm

The last time I was in a Radio Shack store was some four or five years ago looking for a DVI to VGA dongle. It sure seemed like they weren't selling a lot of the stuff they used to know for, and the few of those items they were still carrying seemed overpriced. They seem to start to downhill back when they quit selling their own line of computers.
 
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Re: End of an E®A

Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:34 pm

Closed up in Canada years ago... reopened as the The Source by Circuit City. When Circuit City went down they were bought out by Bell Canada and now run as just The Source.
 
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Re: End of an E®A

Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:39 pm

Funny enough nick cannon joined up with them to try to revitalize the brand and keep it going. I don't know how that's going, but the last one i found mostly sold drones and the like and abandoned the old school components and such.
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Re: End of an E®A

Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:48 pm

Heiwashin wrote:
Funny enough nick cannon joined up with them to try to revitalize the brand and keep it going. I don't know how that's going, but the last one i found mostly sold drones and the like and abandoned the old school components and such.

So which stores now still sell the old school components? Or do you have to buy everything online now?
 
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Re: End of an E®A

Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:51 pm

In my experience i have to buy everything online. I'm guessing that in the really big cities where they can actually make money it might be different. Maybe the chicagoers can verify.
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Re: End of an E®A

Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:52 pm

DigiKey is just so much easier.
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Heiwashin
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Re: End of an E®A

Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:54 pm

That's true though, delivery seems to keep getting faster and faster. Today i got free same day delivery on an amazon purchase. It's gonna keep getting harder and harder for b&m to compete at that rate.
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Re: End of an E®A

Tue Jun 20, 2017 4:10 pm

MicroCenter and Frys still sell some components if you have one near you. MicroCenter's parts selection seems to be heavily slanted towards the Arduino/RPi/Maker crowd. The last time I set foot in a Frys (probably about a year ago) they still had more of the nuts-and-bolts discretes stuff (the sort of things Radio Shack used to be known for), but were a disorganized mess.

I generally hit Digi-Key, Amazon, and (occasionally) eBay for discrete parts these days. Mouser is decent too, if you can navigate their web site without getting pissed off (harder to use than Digi-Key's). Jameco (a mainstay of '70s and '80s electronics mail-order) is still occasionally useful too; I've bought some oddball power bricks and other odds and ends from them over the past few years.
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Re: End of an E®A

Tue Jun 20, 2017 4:32 pm

Radio Shack in the 80s was a place to check out though. Electronics everywhere, and thanks to them science kits almost every Christmas. lol So long Radio Shack, you will be missed. Circuit City too. Oh man it's a walk man! :bigeyes: and so on
 
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Re: End of an E®A

Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:29 pm

Still a couple stores going out of business near me. I worked part-time at a franchise store for a couple summers at the end of the 90s. Even way back then, while still selling computers through an arrangement with Compaq, the company was transitioning heavily to the cell phones and cell phone accessories business to keep the lights on. I helped sell and activate a dumptruck full of Motorola Startacs.

A few weeks ago I went into one of the closing stores to see what I could scoop up. Even with the clearance/GooB discounts in progress and the Instant Gratification factor, the cables and adapters I wanted were about 20% more than I could rationalize. Nobody can charge prices like that in the post-eTail world but Radio Shack was desperately trying.
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Re: End of an E®A

Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:54 pm

The way I see it, RS old business model made sense when consumer electronics were still relatively expensive to justify repairs, and electronic components inside were still mostly discrete and large enough to be hand soldered. Now everything is almost next to impossible to repair small and dense IC and SMD parts, and everything is so cheap that once it breaks its make more sense to simply buy a new (and upgraded) one.

Side note: I bought a $2.79 earbuds and BT handsfree from Aliexpress expecting it to be mostly junk, but absolutely blown away from how good they actually are once they arrived in the flesh. This is the now the age of disposable awesome.
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Re: End of an E®A

Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:57 pm

When I was a kid my parents would drag me (often unwillingly) through every hick town you can think of in the back country of Pennsylvania.

My metric for whether a town was civilized or not was that civilized towns had a Radio Shack.
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Re: End of an E®A

Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:23 pm

The ones near me closed about a year ago. I finally picked up a radio scanner in the closing sale, unfortunately not one of the expensive ones that gets trunked/encrypted signals though and that seems to be what the local authorities use a lot. The fall of Radio Shack is partly due to the Internet and partly due to their own bad business decisions. The few times I've been in one in the last ten years prior to the closure, there was very little in the way of electronic components, kits, etc. and just a bunch of overpriced RC toys and cell phones I might as well buy at Walmart. The maker movement could have easily been their salvation, but they utterly blew it.
 
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Re: End of an E®A

Thu Jun 22, 2017 6:21 pm

You can either have a wide selection and high prices or a small curated selection and low prices to survive in retail.

Tandy tried the first one with Incredible Universe and it failed even in the early days of ecommerce (many locations are now Frys), while Costco went for the 2nd. Walmart and Amazon are attempting to find a middle ground by offering wide selection and reasonable prices but their suppliers are either making cheaper products exclusively for Walmart or counterfeits for Amazon while you can always count on Costco items to be top-shelf.

I stopped shopping at Radio Shack when they became Cell-Phone shack. They went from limited selection and high prices (like a convenience store their main product was convenience) to no selection at all of anything I was interested in. That's inconvenient.

They ran Computer City into the ground too but the market for build-it-yourself computer bits shrank fast enough to also kill Egghead, Circuit City and CompUSA. It's likely Frys and Best Buy survived from the strength of their audio/video and by diversifying into other goods like appliances... while Radio Shack decided to lose most of their audio/video.

Unlike Sears who discontinued their catalog in 1993 right before the rise of ecommerce, Radio Shack did transfer their catalog online after they discontinued it in 2005 but had little interesting left to sell, and at high prices too.
 
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Re: End of an E®A

Thu Jun 22, 2017 6:37 pm

I think it is pretty well documented at this point that appliance sales is what saved Best Buy.

TigerDirect actually took over CompUSA (re-branding their own B&M retail stores as CompUSA), and Circuit City (just the web site, after the CC B&M stores closed) for a year or two. The local B&M TigerDirect/CompUSA was always a disorganized mess with horrible customer service, but occasionally had some good deals. It closed about the time I quit the job that put it more or less directly on my commute route (which was the main thing it had going for it), so I didn't even notice it was gone for a while. Pretty sure all TigerDirect B&M locations are gone now.

Edit: About the same time that Best Buy was attempting to turn themselves around, the TigerDirect store started stocking blenders, toasters, coffeemakers, and other small appliances (but nothing big like refrigerators or stoves). I guess they were trying a half-hearted version of Best Buy's strategy... :lol:
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Re: End of an E®A

Thu Jun 22, 2017 6:46 pm

The funny thing about print catalogs is they can still work even if it's only to help drive traffic and sales to the ecommerce site. I worked on a site up until a few years ago(they might still do it now, I don't know) which still sent out a print catalog every year. The first time I heard that I said "really?", but there was always a definite bump in sales right around the time the catalogs went out. This was in specialty retail though where the consumers already had a pretty good idea what they were looking for, so it's probably not worth the trouble for things which you could get at a variety of places. I doubt it would have helped Radio Shack anyway.
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Re: End of an E®A

Thu Jun 22, 2017 6:53 pm

It really surprised me that parts distributors like Digi-Key and Mouser continued sending out massive print catalogs to all of their customers until fairly recently. Why would you want to flip through a 2000+ page print catalog with tiny print and limited data when you can use the search function on their web site and get full specs for every part? I guess they were cheap to print, and bulk mailing rates are low enough that the cost was lost in the noise.
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Re: End of an E®A

Thu Jun 22, 2017 7:09 pm

I think it depends on the consumer. The typical Digi-Key and Mouser customer will likely already be in front of a computer researching specs while a poor super in his basement office with a phone but no internet access will be very happy to have a Grainger catalog. It works well for Grainger too because that kind of customer cannot easily compare prices (or care to--their employer likely only has an account with a few places).
 
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Re: End of an E®A

Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:48 am

just brew it! wrote:
It really surprised me that parts distributors like Digi-Key and Mouser continued sending out massive print catalogs to all of their customers until fairly recently. Why would you want to flip through a 2000+ page print catalog with tiny print and limited data when you can use the search function on their web site and get full specs for every part? I guess they were cheap to print, and bulk mailing rates are low enough that the cost was lost in the noise.


Based on the number of ads I throw away weekly, bulk mailing rates are way too low.
 
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Re: End of an E®A

Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:54 am

Vhalidictes wrote:
Based on the number of ads I throw away weekly, bulk mailing rates are way too low.

THIS...Post office needs help, they should pay full price if they want to send me that rubbish.
 
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Re: End of an E®A

Fri Jun 23, 2017 11:11 am

Hawkwing74 wrote:
Vhalidictes wrote:
Based on the number of ads I throw away weekly, bulk mailing rates are way too low.

THIS...Post office needs help, they should pay full price if they want to send me that rubbish.

Junk mail and packages shipped by small businesses/individuals are the only things keeping the USPS alive at this point. Bills are all dealt with online, and the big shippers (Amazon etc.) tend to use UPS or FedEx.

If they raise the bulk mailing rates they'll lose that segment of their business and be in even worse shape than they are now.

The sales flyers from the local grocery stores are still useful, we sometimes use coupons we get in the mail from local restaurants, and I occasionally make use of the Harbor Freight "free screwdrivers / tape measure / multimeter / flashlight with purchase" coupons. Everything else (which accounts for the bulk of the volume) goes straight into the recycle bin.
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Re: End of an E®A

Fri Jun 23, 2017 12:48 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Edit: About the same time that Best Buy was attempting to turn themselves around, the TigerDirect store started stocking blenders, toasters, coffeemakers, and other small appliances (but nothing big like refrigerators or stoves). I guess they were trying a half-hearted version of Best Buy's strategy... :lol:

That seems to be everyone's last-ditch strategy. Circuit City tried it. Ultimate Electronics tried it (along with billiards). JC Penny is now trying it. So far only Best Buy has succeeded, and if I remember the timing correctly, it's probably because they started doing it just before a Lowes and Home Depot finished invading every shopping complex in the lower 48.

The one saving grace of RadioShack's departure is that I've noticed the hardware stores (e.g. Ace, Do-It-Best) starting to pick up the slack on small tools and accessories. Our local Ace has a surprisingly large selection of soldering irons and accessories including Weller replacement tips (although they're missing the requisite desoldering tools and accessories), along with a growing range of A/V cables and adapters.

~//~

USPS seems to have a lot of shared contracts with FedEx, they use them for a lot of long-haul Priority Mail and I've had FedEx packages delivered last-mile by USPS trucks. They've done a good job of cozying up to eBay, too.
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Re: End of an E®A

Fri Jun 23, 2017 1:13 pm

Their business model of exceedingly high margins on everything just does not work anymore.

I remember a big "scandal" a while ago where you could choose between a regular class NiCad D size battery, and a much more expensive high capacity version. It turned out the cheap line was an 'AA' sized battery literally suspended in a size 'D' shell. The rest was air. It was still more expensive than competitor's full capacity rechargeable 'D' cells. My dad went to the closing sale and was able to pick up a dozen of the good 'D' batteries for about $1 a piece, so he is pretty happy.

Of course when you think about it, the stuff they used to fill a store up with in the 70s and 80s is now all squeezed into a smartphone, except perhaps a shortwave radio. No products to fill the store.

I did love shopping there, and had a fairly nice Realistic receiver and speakers built using their 8" woofers and mid-tweeters. It actually sounded very nice and was of decent quality.
 
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Re: End of an E®A

Sat Jun 24, 2017 12:36 pm

I get more frustrated with retail with each passing day. I couldn't tell you how many times I've left a place and just resolved to buy it online and not visit again. "Why the hell did I drive all the way out here?" At this point I'm only buying food/groceries with any regularity, and even with that, I'm starting to buy more non-perishables online.

My frustration is probably split 70/30, with poor retail stock (don't have the item or anything in it's class, don't have the size, type, etc) being more of a problem than simple high prices. I expect to pay a little more for immediate gratification (within reason), but I can't buy what isn't there. Aside from the behemoths (Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Home Depot), any retailer who hopes to survive in the new era needs to specialize in a few small areas, and they need to do a damn good job at it. The staff need to be fairly knowledgeable (much easier to do with better focus), and if they can offer some sort of service, even better.

Radioshack, for example, could have gone more toward cell phone repair and their battery business. I recently had Batteries Plus build me a custom battery for my Dad's old radio scanner exactly to my specifications, and re-use the special connector. Simply could not be found or done online. That should've been something Radioshack was doing. In fact.....it looks like Batteries Plus actually does do cellphone repair. They've got the right idea; Radioshack just didn't change with the times.
 
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Re: End of an E®A

Sat Jun 24, 2017 12:56 pm

Yeah, I tend to agree. Aside from "big box" retail for heavy/bulky commodity items and local markets for perishables, B&M retail will only survive in specialty niches where personal service/advice is required.
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whm1974
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Re: End of an E®A

Sat Jun 24, 2017 6:47 pm

Well if I ever start a local business, it will be based around repair, advice, services, and others thing you just can't get online.
 
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Re: End of an E®A

Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:38 am

I thought you were going to start a catsup-based business
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Re: End of an E®A

Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:47 am

derFunkenstein wrote:
I thought you were going to start a catsup-based business

Or canned lab-grown meat.
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