The Shack
August 3, 2009 10:32 AM   Subscribe

RadioShack to rebrand itself later this year. posted by swift (138 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
New name: "Sharper Image".
posted by Artw at 10:33 AM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


an Onion article and a list article?
posted by edgeways at 10:35 AM on August 3, 2009


As long as they still require a zipcode to sell batteries, it'll always be "That Stupid Place" in my heart.
posted by DU at 10:37 AM on August 3, 2009 [13 favorites]


an Onion article and a list article?

Link to RadioShack for those who've never heard of it.
posted by swift at 10:38 AM on August 3, 2009 [10 favorites]


First thing that come to mind was this: the Christian best-seller about relationships with God. So, I'm not sure any good will come of this.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:39 AM on August 3, 2009


Also, with the current popularity of DIY, I'm surprised that there's no place catering to them. Something like RadioShack + Michael's + Lowe's. They'd have resistors, metals, glue, fabric, gears, etc.
posted by DU at 10:40 AM on August 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Jesus, do I have to say this again? Calling yourself Radyo Shac is not going to make up for Stargate: Atlantis, and that's final.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:41 AM on August 3, 2009 [14 favorites]


Jesus, do I have to say this again? Calling yourself Radyo Shac is not going to make up for Stargate: Atlantis, and that's final.

Any number of bars could accurately be renamed the Syphy Shack. Just putting that out there.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:44 AM on August 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


I have a friend who worked there--he said their unofficial slogan was "Selling shit to idiots."
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:44 AM on August 3, 2009 [23 favorites]


Reason number four is really the only one that needs to be on that list.
RadioShack has problems beyond any issues with its name. Lots of them. Its stores are tiny by the standards of the past few decades of American retailing, and therefore can’t compete with the product selection at rivals. (It barely has room to sell HDTVs at all–the TV section at my nearest Costco is larger than my local RadioShack.) When I’ve been inside RadioShacks in recent years, I’m usually surprised by high the prices are. They have a reputation for iffy customer service. If the signage outside the stores changes but the experience inside doesn’t, it’s not going to be any more competitive than it is right now.
This is so right. There is a RadioShack about 100 feet from my house (the only stores closer are a CVS and a convenience store). But when I need to buy a cable (or a battery or a phone or whatever else they sell there nowadays) and can't wait to get one shipped from the Internet, I get in the car and drive five minutes down to BestBuy or Target. And I'm RatShack's primary demographic: 18-30 male professional nerd.

RadioShack has one foot in the grave, and removing "Radio" from the name isn't going to fix that.
posted by Plutor at 10:45 AM on August 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


First thing that come to mind was this: the Christian best-seller about relationships with God. So, I'm not sure any good will come of this.

After his daughter is apparently murdered by a serial killer, Mackenzie Phillips is invited by "Papa" (his wife's name for God) to The Shack, where God takes the form of the Holy Trinity and tries to convince him to buy the extended warranty plan on a $99 HDMI cable.
posted by dw at 10:45 AM on August 3, 2009 [11 favorites]


Radio Shack seems like a big joke until you want to do any kind of DIY electronics stuff and don't feel like tracking down a mail-order supplier and waiting for the shipment.
posted by autodidact at 10:46 AM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Psychedelic Shack, that's where it's at.
posted by box at 10:46 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


More about the rebranding from the Dallas News.

Among other things this means Lance Armstrong will be riding for Team Shack next year.
posted by ardgedee at 10:48 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Le Shaq" was already taken.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:49 AM on August 3, 2009


The CEO should be fired for being so negative. He made me question wtf I go to Radio Shack in the first place. Needless to day, I couldn't answer that question.
posted by KB.Boston_implant.By way of NY at 10:49 AM on August 3, 2009


DU, is there really a big enough DIY community for such a chain to thrive, though?

Radio Shack/Tandy is a big employer here in North TX, but they've had layoffs, and been struggling to be seen as more than "purveyor of obscure electric parts and doohickeys that will probably break or fail" without much success. Among musicians, they are known as "the place you buy a really cheap mike the first time w/out realizing how crappy it is and never buying another one." Also not a compelling reputation.

Anecdata: we refuse to get cable, and I've bought several TV antennas there, and been disappointed every time; the connectors always seem to suck in some way that makes them impossible to keep tightened on the TV, and adaptors promise to work, but don't really. Our last antenna we bought online from a RV-supply place, and it's about 10x better for less money than anything we ever got at "the Shack." Maybe DIY-ers have had better experiences, but for the general population, it's not a place you turn to unless there's nowhere else to go.
posted by emjaybee at 10:50 AM on August 3, 2009


Radio Shack seems like a big joke until you want to do any kind of DIY electronics stuff and don't feel like tracking down a mail-order supplier and waiting for the shipment.

Then it seems like a big joke because their DIY electronics stuff is a bunch of random components stuffed in a poorly labeled drawer at the back of the store. It's all over-priced even when you factor in shipping, making the only upside that you don't have to wait 3 days (assuming they have your item at all, which they don't).

I would probably be in RS twice a week if they cleared out all the cellphones and TVs and filled the space with something useful.
posted by DU at 10:50 AM on August 3, 2009 [9 favorites]


Radio Shack has saved my audio bacon a few times when I had a dire speaker wire/termination need that couldn't wait for a Blue Jeans Cable shipment. It's the only joint in this pitiful one-horse burg that has any sort of DIY audio or electronics widgets.

Now, if it sold vacuum tubes, that'd be something.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:51 AM on August 3, 2009


They don't need to re-brand. They need to re-focus on what they do best, namely, all the bulk electronic bits, pieces, and gear at the back of the store. Ditch all the cell phones, stereos and crap at the front of the stores.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:51 AM on August 3, 2009 [11 favorites]


Radio Shack seems like a big joke until you want to do any kind of DIY electronics stuff and don't feel like tracking down a mail-order supplier and waiting for the shipment.

Do they actually sell components these days?
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on August 3, 2009


The Shack. You've got questions, we've got one of those things that splits a big wide headphone jack into two little headphone jacks.
posted by ALongDecember at 10:55 AM on August 3, 2009 [39 favorites]


Really, it was all the Bianca's lawsuit.
posted by dhartung at 10:59 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


DU, is there really a big enough DIY community for such a chain to thrive, though?

You are right, they should stick with what they are doing which is going so well.

If they teamed up with Make Magazine (maybe even rebranded as "Maker's Shack" or something) and sold all the bits, bobs, tools and kits, they could be really big.
posted by DU at 10:59 AM on August 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


> Also, with the current popularity of DIY, I'm surprised that there's no place catering to them. Something like RadioShack + Michael's + Lowe's. They'd have resistors, metals, glue, fabric, gears, etc.

Steampunk Shack?
posted by meowzilla at 11:01 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think Radio Shack is a great store for people who haven't heard of the internet yet. Once they upgrade from their TRS-80s though, look out!
posted by orme at 11:01 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


> The CEO should be fired for being so negative.

Note the first link is to The Onion, a popular satirical news site, and not an actual news article.


> Can you give me one example of a troubled business in any field whose health was improved by a new name, ever?

Philip Morris?
posted by churl at 11:02 AM on August 3, 2009


A couple of comments in that slashdot thread point out:

RadioShack posts profit despite lagging sales (and sponsors Lance Armstrong)
Radio Shack profit rises to $48.8 million

My immediate reaction is to be just as puzzled as anyone else, since I agree with a lot of the criticisms and its seems like the store is increasingly less useful and less interesting to my geeky self.

My secondary reaction is to remember, oh yeah, my tastes and interests are probably more reliable as a counterpredictor than anything else.

(Although I did like Anime, video games, and D&D twenty years ago, way before they were cool, right? Right?)
posted by weston at 11:03 AM on August 3, 2009


I saw the post and thought, "What, are they going to call themselves The Shack? Heh." Then I clicked, and was enlightened depressed.

As for the store itself, they've always been my first choice when I have an emergency need for some random, stupid cable or adapter. I've never been clear on why they sell TVs, cell phones and remote-controlled cars.

On a final note, I just learned from this article that there is now no space between the words "Radio" and "Shack." I never realized this before.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:04 AM on August 3, 2009


Fry's
posted by wuwei at 11:07 AM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Asked and answered
posted by tyllwin at 11:08 AM on August 3, 2009


Is there a less user-friendly electronics shop than RadioShack? If there is, I haven't found it. All my experience with them is that they sell a poor selection of highly overpriced garbage.
posted by notashroom at 11:10 AM on August 3, 2009


I'll stick with Newbridge's own Radio Hut instead.
posted by wcfields at 11:11 AM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


At this point, I really only go to Radioshack when I'm building a project and realize I left out a basic part, or if I need a project box.
posted by drezdn at 11:11 AM on August 3, 2009


STOP THE PRESSES. THERE'S GOING TO BE A FUCKING NETOGETHER!!!!!!!

But yeah, until they stop selling cables at, literally, 10x the cost of monoprice.com, I shan't be darkening their doors regardless of what they're called.
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:12 AM on August 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also, with the current popularity of DIY, I'm surprised that there's no place catering to them. Something like RadioShack + Michael's + Lowe's. They'd have resistors, metals, glue, fabric, gears, etc.

Allow me to introduce you to the best store in the whole world.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:15 AM on August 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


I refuse to shop anywhere that requires me to give the cashier my zip code for no discernible reason whenever I make a transaction.
posted by jeremy b at 11:16 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


THERE'S GOING TO BE A FUCKING NETOGETHER!!!!!!!

what

You mean to tell me that there is a portmanteu worse than "webinar"?

EW.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:17 AM on August 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


When was the last time a retailer's re-branding like this actually succeeded in changing the public's image of the store?

I'm only asking this question half-rhetorically; I'm curious to hear about success stories regarding a move which typically garners nothing but a well-deserved head shake and some snark.
posted by Spatch at 11:17 AM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


people care about stuff too much
posted by joe defroster at 11:18 AM on August 3, 2009


Also, with the current popularity of DIY, I'm surprised that there's no place catering to them. Something like RadioShack + Michael's + Lowe's. They'd have resistors, metals, glue, fabric, gears, etc.

There is in Houston - Electronic Parts Outlet. It's like the love child resulting from an orgy consisting of an old-school Radio Shack, the Digikey catalog, a ham radio equipment store, and a junk surplus shop.

My local RS has actually started carrying more DIY type stuff (perfboard, components, solder/soldering irons, tools, etc) in the past couple of years. The manager I spoke to over the weekend (when picking up a part on Sunday, when EPO is closed) said that demand for that stuff was coming back.
posted by mrbill at 11:19 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why not something cool like "eShacK"? The "e" makes it cool. Or iShack. Or Shax. Or Shacked UP!.

Seriously though, if they want to bring customers in to their new shiny-objects-oriented showrooms, maybe they should change their name to Best Buy.
posted by Mister_A at 11:19 AM on August 3, 2009


The only time I was ever a regular visitor to Radio Shack was when my pot dealer was working there. I think I bought a surge protector once just because my dude's boss was at the store that day and was regarding me with suspicion. Oh, I did also buy a hot glue gun. Because you never know when you'll need a hot glue gun.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:20 AM on August 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


RS already sells cellphones from several different providers, don't they?

I suspect they could successfully rebrand themselves as the nationwide chain of places that gives you good advice about who to sign a cellphone contract with, then sell you all the accessories and chargers and cases and trinkets to go with it. They'd carry chargers and batteries for phones from twenty years ago, too.

Of course, this will never happen.
posted by box at 11:24 AM on August 3, 2009


You've got questions, we've got blank stares!
posted by Skorgu at 11:28 AM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


> Can you give me one example of a troubled business in any field whose health was improved by a new name, ever?

Ayds? Perhaps not.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 11:30 AM on August 3, 2009


Allow me to introduce you to the best store in the whole world.

Four convenient locations all within a few miles of each other!

At least it proves there's enough interest to support a chain...
posted by DU at 11:30 AM on August 3, 2009



Why not something cool like "eShacK"?


'cause then you will have people like me showing up and being disappointed when it turns out they don't sell my desired product.
posted by mannequito at 11:31 AM on August 3, 2009


Allow me to introduce you to the best store in the whole world.

"To get the most out of this site, set your monitor's resolution to 832 x 624, and view the site in IE 4."

This'd better be good.
posted by weston at 11:33 AM on August 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Dang, even Mitsubishi kept their name. Radio Shack must have done something really bad.
posted by vapidave at 11:35 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would probably be in RS twice a week if they cleared out all the cellphones and TVs and filled the space with something useful.

They need to re-focus on what they do best, namely, all the bulk electronic bits, pieces, and gear at the back of the store. Ditch all the cell phones, stereos and crap at the front of the stores.

Except that's not what they do best. From their investor relations summary:
* 33% sales from mobile phones
* 24% from various accessories
* 28% from personal electronics and "modern home platforms"

Those "bulk electronic bits, pieces, and gear" are a rounding error.
posted by donovan at 11:35 AM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


But when I need to buy a cable (or a battery or a phone or whatever else they sell there nowadays) and can't wait to get one shipped from the Internet, I get in the car and drive five minutes down to BestBuy or Target. And I'm RatShack's primary demographic: 18-30 male professional nerd.

Maybe it's simply luck, but I've had the complete opposite experience. Since they've revamped the stores I'd much rather go to radio shack than best buy. I wouldn't buy my tv or cell phone there, but for a missing cable, or some random battery, it's great. I don't fight the crowds, and while the employees can range from helpful to not, they're far better than what I've seen at best buy.

So in summary, though I do most of my shopping on the internet, I'm glad they're around when I need them simply to keep me from having to go to best buy.
posted by justgary at 11:35 AM on August 3, 2009


Then it seems like a big joke because their DIY electronics stuff is a bunch of random components stuffed in a poorly labeled drawer at the back of the store. It's all over-priced even when you factor in shipping, making the only upside that you don't have to wait 3 days (assuming they have your item at all, which they don't).

I would probably be in RS twice a week if they cleared out all the cellphones and TVs and filled the space with something useful.


I went in to my local RS a couple of months ago, looking for a simple electronics component (i think it was a battery holder or something), and they didn't have it. When I asked them about it, the Kid at the Counter said "You should look for it at an electronics store".

I was speechless, but then I realized I should have known better.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:37 AM on August 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Those "bulk electronic bits, pieces, and gear" are a rounding error.

We got rid of all the useless overhead and have rebranded ourselves as Battery Chickens Dot Com.
posted by nervousfritz at 11:39 AM on August 3, 2009


Well, the one time in the past five years I went to The Shack... I needed one of those things to connect my 10 year old tv to the other thing on the back of a 29 year old Atari 2600, and well.... I'll be damned, they had it.
posted by R. Mutt at 11:40 AM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


This post might have been improved by an earnings report from last week. Basically, they increased profits by closing stores. I can attest to this; they closed down the location at the nearest mall. It was tiny, and was rarely worth the trip.

When I was an engineering student, the local Radioshack was more like a bookstore in size. EE students would complain about the pricing, but did note that it was open late, when the department shop was closed. Obviously RadioShack's main problem is that DIY-er parts are cheap. A roommate and I once went to pick up a single resistor to fix a parent's TV. Normal retail markup on a resistor would amount to rounding error -- they'd likely have lost money on the transaction via credit card. So instead they apply a markup of like 1000x to a single part.

So it's no surprise that they make more money on cell phone crap. At which point, you're competing with the vendors who rent a stall in the walkway of a mall.
posted by pwnguin at 11:43 AM on August 3, 2009


> If they teamed up with Make Magazine (maybe even rebranded as "Maker's Shack" or something) and sold all the bits, bobs, tools and kits, they could be really big.

They started as the Tandy Leather Company, and became an electronics chain by buying "the ailing Radio Shack" and selling off their old businesses. For a long time they were Tandy Radio Shack (Remember the TRS-80? That's what the "T" stood for), but the now-unrelated Tandy Leather stores continued -- I remember visiting one for grade-school crafts projects, back in the day.

So it's ironic that they might be doing better now if they'd stuck to their core business, selling swathes of leather, plastic lacing, and awls alongside soldering irons and baggies of resistors.
posted by ardgedee at 11:46 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Radio waves are pretty 20th Century.

I hear they're changing it to Wyfy.
posted by nanojath at 11:52 AM on August 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


First of all, I'm old.

Some Radio Shack and related memories.

They used to sell a fluffy doggie toy with an embedded AM radio. It came with a brush so you could style its hair. HELL YES I wanted one!

Every Christmas their catalog featured a portable radio in a variety of lurid colors. I wanted Raspberry.

At one time, AM radio is all there was.

I went in there for a replacement Sirius receiver. They didn't have a cheap one, and they couldn't sell it to me if there was, because I had to buy the service along with it, and I already had the service. I walked across the parking lot to Wal-Mart and bought the new receiver, on sale. For $18.00. It's thin, light and small. The origional Orbiter receiver that I bought from Radio Shack three years ago was heavy, enormous and heated up to about 200 degrees when it was on.

I went in there for a replacement AT&T cell phone because my husband washed his in his blue jeans. They didn't have a cheap one and they couldn't sell it to me if there was because I had to buy the service along with it, and I already had the service. So I walked across the parking lot to Wal-Mart and bought a Go phone for $15.00 and swapped out the SIM chip.

Back in olden times, when TV had Tubes and Longs was Thrifty, there used to be a commercial on TV where you could get a kit from the store so that you could mark and remove the vacuum tubes from your TV. Then you could bring them into Thrifty and test them. If one was blown, you could buy it there. Then you took your tubes home and put them back in the slots, peeling the little numbered stickers off as you did so.

When I took electronics in high school, we built circuits on a plastic board with holes on it. You slid the template underneath the clear plastic and popped everything in. You got an A in lab if the bulb lit up.

Okay. I have to pick up my dinosaur from the shop.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:55 AM on August 3, 2009 [12 favorites]


ardgedee: "So it's ironic that they might be doing better now if they'd stuck to their core business, selling swathes of leather, plastic lacing, and awls alongside soldering irons and baggies of resistors."

Its strange but hobby stores today seem to have divided into two categories: crafts and electronics. I was browsing the Hobby Lobby website and noticed their floor plan included a specific "Hobby" section. An aisle of model trains and plastic cars, and aisle of vague science projects, and that's it.

The place is clearly catered to women (and Christians). In contrast, places like RadioShack, MicroCenter and the local "Hobby Haven" are basically dominated by guys. There's not a clear "women's section" quite the way there is a men-and-children's "hobby" section at Hobby Lobby.

I wonder whether this segregation was intentional or accidental. Did someone decide "Alright, we're gonna corner the men's market, but we need to ditch the lace to enhance the brand," or was it more "Lace isn't selling, let's move it out and make room for more Remote Control cars"? Maybe there's something to the claim I've heard before to the effect that "Hobbys are what you do when the opposite sex won't pay attention to you." Might cross gender appeal stores be their own undoing?
posted by pwnguin at 12:05 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Chiming in here that I'd be very sad to see Radio Shack go altogether. Of course, to them I'm a terrible customer because I've only bought about $20 worth of merchandise over the past two years. But it's been REALLY IMPORTANT merchandise:

- A male 1/8" to male 1/4" stereo adapter, bought in a rush while jury-rigging a new sound system for my sister-in-law's wedding reception in backcountry Maine
- A handful of ceramic capacitors, from 10 to 47 nanofarads, bought 30 minutes before an opening when my interactive gallery piece was screwing up and I needed to re-tune it.
- A new soldering tip, so that I could desolder a component I screwed up right before going to a build day with my project team

etc. etc. Radio Shack is expensive, and I sometimes need to go to two or three before I find what I need. But in an era when the long tail has gone almost exclusively online with the requisite minimum-24-hour lag time, RS remains the one brick-and-mortar retailer that reliably carries the electronic bits and bobs that I always need at the last minute, no matter where I am.
posted by xthlc at 12:07 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


You've got Questions - We've got Shrugs.

But the last times I was in a RadioShack, the sales people were attentive in the sense of noting someone walked in and they did TRY to be helpful. (not that I expected them to know what a LM317t was.)
posted by rough ashlar at 12:08 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


That link to the Radio Shack Catalogs page from the Technologizer (ugh, talk about crappy names) article makes the whole thing more than worth it. Holy crap, there's the Realistic Modulaire 2250 Dual Cassette Boombox! Man, did I really pay $220 - 1988 dollars - for that beast? I mowed lawns for something like 50 or 60 hours for that!

I bet I listened to 5,000 hours of cassettes on that thing... maybe more... I had it for 8 or 9 years, it was still going strong when I left it behind at a workplace I left under, uh, complicated circumstances. Somebody is probably still listening to tapes on the damn thing. If Radio Shack would sell me a $400 boom box today that wasn't a miserable piece of crap like everything in Target and Best Buy, I would totally be there even if they changed their name to the Glory Hole.
posted by nanojath at 12:10 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ex-Radio Shat employee here. My preffered alt-slogan: "You've Got Questions, We've Got Cell Phones."

Worked there for just under six months in High School. Physically abusive manager, tiny little strip-mall store, only made commission once. People came in for three major things:
1. Cordless phone batteries.
2. Power adapters
3. To browse

Rebranding will not save the Shat. They need to start over from scratch.
posted by SansPoint at 12:14 PM on August 3, 2009


See also...

I have awesome childhood memories of "daddy and daughter" trips to Radio Shack but it ceased being relevant to my life around the time I stopped buying blank cassette tape.
posted by JoanArkham at 12:16 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just avoid them because they always ask for my personal info at the point of sale. I'm buying a battery. You don't need my phone number.
posted by starman at 12:25 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Their announcement to become the new sponsor of Lance Armstrong's Tour de France 2010 cycling team is huge. Excellent PR– they must be working on a very impressive remote controlled Lance toy with a radio controlled bike.
posted by tothemoon at 12:28 PM on August 3, 2009


There's not a clear "women's section" quite the way there is a men-and-children's "hobby" section at Hobby Lobby.

Wait, what would a Women's Section be in radio shack? Pink batteries? How is a poorly-stacked and displayed pile of overpriced connector cables man-specific? Presumably women have things that need to connect to other things, too. I can't figure out if you're assuming women make things with lace and men own speakers, or if you're just saying that stores assume they do.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 12:34 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here in Canada it's already been re-branded to "The Source" ("by Circuit City", sometimes) and if you need the parts for something like a homemade ASTC antenna, they're still the only place to get it without ordering online. Yes the prices are atrocious but I'm impulsive and willing to pay a premium when I really need an RF splitter or 3M Double-Grip tape or what not (can't find it for sale anywhere else).
posted by autodidact at 12:35 PM on August 3, 2009


I know there's a lot of hate for Radio Shack. I'll agree they're not what they used to be, given their recent focus on cell phones and GPS. But I keep finding myself drawn back to them. They always have the components I'm looking for, unlike Fry's. If I need a specific cable right goddamn now, there's a good chance they have it. I've also found that if I walk in and ask for a left-handed framistat or three-pronged hobnostic defrostcator, the person behind the counter generally knows what I'm looking for, again unlike the local Fry's.

Looking at what I just wrote, I think my main problem isn't that my local Radio Shack is good, but that my local Fry's is a hellhole armpit pathetic-excuse-for-a-hobbyist-store waste of my time.
posted by lekvar at 12:35 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I believe this happened in Canada first. Radio Shack became The Shack. Same poor service and overpriced selection.

Radio Shack and The Shack are both doomed to fail. There's no business model that I can think of which will let them succeed as a separate entity. Even mall Kiosk's can beat them at cell phone sales, which is closest to the walkie talkies and cb radios they used to sell. If a town has a Radio Shack then it probably has a Best Buy where you'll be able to get the cables for less overpricing. Electronic hobbiests gave up on their hit or miss selection of random and overpriced components long ago.

They might be able to make it as a brand using a format similar to what DU described. Radio Shack could be a small area in Best Buy where you can buy kits from Make Magazine and other vendors. I still think they'd be doomed once Best Buy realized there's no money in the hobby market but at least it wouldn't look quite so pathetic.
posted by substrate at 12:37 PM on August 3, 2009


Misc thoughts:

The world doesn't need more than two or three variations on the radio alarm clock.
The world doesn't need more than two or three variations on the boom box.
The world doesn't need more than two or three variations on the cordless phone.
Why are all the games behind the counter?
Why are the wireless routers in a glass case?
Worst service ever.
You want my postal code for a pack of batteries?
Supersizing a $20 sale with a $4 warranty?
What the hell are Realistic and Archer? Can we get some brands we've heard of?
Stop selling cellphones.
Would you mind cleaning up the cashier counter once in a while?
posted by furtive at 12:38 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I just make up the zip code. Aww, Yea! How you like me now, Radio Bitches?
posted by silkyd at 12:41 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Allow me to introduce you to the best store in the whole world.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:15 PM


Best store in the world? Meet the best store in the galaxy.

I will climb in my un-air-conditioned car in 90F+ temps and drive 40 minutes to get some random bit from there rather than deal with some cell-phone clerk snickering at the nerd who wants some flux or a resister or something that doesn't already plug in and work and require an extended contract.
posted by mcrandello at 12:50 PM on August 3, 2009


If a town has a Radio Shack then it probably has a Best Buy where you'll be able to get the cables for less overpricing.

If a town has a Radio Shack or a Best Buy then it probably has a well-hidden hole-in-the-wall surplus shop selling oscilloscopes on consignment and a wicked-sick array of soldering irons.

The trick is simply to find that place and never go anywhere else. When Comp USA still existed in our town, I remember going in it buy a PS/2 y-cord, so we could connect an outboard keyboard and mouse to a laptop. The guy rings me up... "That'll be $53.76".

The local place? $7.
posted by Rat Spatula at 12:53 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have a Radio Shack one mile away from me. The Fry's Electronics is a 15 minute drive, involving highway travel. I'd rather drive.

One exception: I recently had to have a specific kind of computer microphone asap because a web conference was shortly beginning and my own mike had died. I went to RS and got one and was back home in 5 minutes. It was way too expensive and I was grinding my teeth through the whole purchasing experience (for the reasons given above).

Good luck with the "rebranding", guys.
posted by darkstar at 12:53 PM on August 3, 2009


Well, aside from the whole Tandy Leather stuff, there's conductive threading and patterns, Cricut electronics, and some other stuff I'm forgetting. These are mainly electronics things mainly marketed at women. I'm not trying to declare that crafts are for women or that circuits are for men, but there's a substantial difference in clientèl between say Hobby Lobby and Microcenter.

You do raise an interesting point. Electronics parts are generally ugly and anti-decorative. Pink batteries are clearly out of touch, but offering a wider color selection of other parts might cater more towards "crafts".

Or maybe the whole place should just die and hardware stores modernize their inventory to include things since the discovery of the transistor. Either way's fine.
posted by pwnguin at 12:54 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, man. The zip code thing.

By God, are you really asking me for a 5-digit, non-personally identifying number that I share with thousands and thousands of people and businesses, that I have committed to memory, that does me no harm to divulge, and that takes longer to refuse than to blurt out? Well, fuck you, sir! I'll be taking my my flux, breadboards, and transistors at Best Buy! I'll show you to try to improve your business...
posted by dirtdirt at 12:57 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Not defending "The Shack" here, but what's up with all the "OMG they ask for personal info!" hate? Every chain store I shop in does that. Is that a DC-area thing? (I just tell them "no"...and they sell it to you anyway.)
posted by JoanArkham at 12:58 PM on August 3, 2009


I once dated a guy who worked at Radio Shack. I was dumbfounded when I found out he'd been using his fake ID as his job identity. I pointed out that there was no reason to use the fake ID, since he didn't need to be 21 to work at Radio Shack, and that he was cutting himself off from being able to use the place as a reference, never mind paying all that Fed/State/FICA taxes into someone else's account instead of your own.
posted by No1UKnow at 1:02 PM on August 3, 2009


The company said its customers, employees and the investment community have been using The Shack nickname for sometime, similar to FedEx or Coke.

Hmm, the only RadioShack employee I know called it Rat Shack, and now I do too. Maybe run that one by the rebranding department...
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 1:05 PM on August 3, 2009


How did they fail to get Shaquille O'Neal to endorse this? Stupid rebranding fail.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:08 PM on August 3, 2009


My, what an Incredible Universe® we live in
posted by punkfloyd at 1:13 PM on August 3, 2009


Yeah, man. The zip code thing.

Yeah... I didn't realize people *actually* got angry about that, I just thought it was a staple of mid-nineties standup.

You have, I would say, at least four options when someone asks you for some sort of personal info at the register.

1. Give it to them.
2. Fake info.
3. Refuse.
4. Bitch about it whenever the retailer comes up.

Does #4 really seem like the best use of your time?
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:22 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Shack died the day they stopped selling P-box kits.
posted by localroger at 1:25 PM on August 3, 2009


RadioShack is a pretty silly place, but it warms my heart to be able to buy a 7805 or a sonar module in an actual store, rather than online. I hope that continues.
posted by heathkit at 1:25 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, The Shack ... we'll know that this hip new place has a secret Christian agenda if it ditches all of the resistors but keeps the little notebooks of creationist Forrest M. Mims III (electrical engineers, what is it with some of those guys?).

They always asked me for my phone number. My area is on the border between area codes 314 and 636. So I'd always answer "Area code three one four, one five nine, two six, five four." Nobody ever paused at that one.
posted by adipocere at 1:38 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I work in the audio-visual industry, so when I shop at Radio Shack it is generally for business purposes. I find them useful up to a point - not only do they generally have whatever unique, hard-to-find, extremely specific adapter or connector I need absolutely that minute because it is the one thing preventing a job from getting completed, but the stores are so ubiquitous that you can generally rest assured you are always about 5 minutes from one (unlike Fry's which have far fewer locations).

But their mark-ups? My word. As one example, I've had a need on a couple of occasions to get an S-Video to RCA adapter in a hurry. Radio Shack's price was somewhere around $23. To give you an idea of how high that is, the price from the wholesaler who we usually buy from is $2.60. Now this admittedly isn't a fair comparison, since that is comparing dealer cost to end-user pricing. However, the wholesaler's suggested retail price is $7.50. I'm all for a business earning a fair profit, but that's just ridiculous.
posted by The Gooch at 2:04 PM on August 3, 2009


I like going to the local electronics store, but man... it can be a crapshoot. Last time I went in (to ABC, maybe should have hit AxMan instead?) they had two shelves full of Molex connectors, which I needed, but they didn't have any matching male-female sizes, or simply had housings with no pins, and etc. RCA jacks were there in abundance but not in the size I needed. I did find some potentiometers that worked, but it took me an hour of digging through random tubs to find enough in the right size and specs.

For all its overpricing and such, at least Radio Shack tends to have things neatly organized in bins and shelves. With labels.

As for rebranding, I don't understand that at all. Brinks home security just launched under a new name, they have many commercials out now touting the new name, and I can't remember it. Why throw away the mental association you have built up? You hear Brinks, you think security. You hear Radio Shack, you think cables, plugs, and other assorted electronics (overpriced, maybe, but electronics nonetheless).
posted by caution live frogs at 2:10 PM on August 3, 2009


I was in a Radio Shack at lunch time today and don't have any complaints. I needed a headphone extension cable and found one in about a minute, waited in line for another two minutes and was out the door in a total of five minutes. I wouldn't have been able to walk across the parking lot to the best buy in that amount of time. And the biggest win is that RS is downtown, two blocks from my office and BestBuy is ten freaking miles away in some godforsaken suburban mall. The Shack help may not be too bright but you can say the same about most chain retailers and they didn't ask me for my zip code.
posted by octothorpe at 2:31 PM on August 3, 2009


PZM
posted by snofoam at 2:45 PM on August 3, 2009


There's only one RS, and it ain't Radio Shack.
posted by scruss at 2:52 PM on August 3, 2009


Dang, even Mitsubishi kept their name. Radio Shack must have done something really bad.

But Mitsubishi got into the US passenger car market relatively late didn't they? (turns out it was 1970) Nissan branded their cars Datsun (in the US market from 1958) until 1986, but it seems the choice of name was more complicated than I'd though. Mitsubishi Zeros seem more notorious than Nissan battleships, too.

OnTopic: one thing I haven't seen mentioned here is that Radio Shack is (or used to claim to be) within (some small distance) of (some large portion) of the US population. It's in small malls that don't even warrant a "mini" Apple store. This was an advantage in the TRS-80 years when there were no Best Buys and computer magazines were niche, but people were hearing about these "personal" computers. Though the pay might not have been great, it seemed to attract enough enthusiasts to sell computers to novices.

It's really a shame they don't push over the air TV antennas better. They could have made a mint, esp. if they partnered with installers. My local shop that sold Channel Master and Winegard (better han the RS private-label crap) and 10 foot masts (that they had freighted in so you don't have to splice together 5' sections- you can't get 10' through UPS) went out of business (perhaps due to old radio guy retiring) shortly *before* the analog TV shutdown.

RS offered (less than 5 years ago) awesome employee discounts to encourage salesdroids to buy & use the stuff they're selling. Better discounts than the mfgs offer their employees (grr!).
posted by morganw at 3:09 PM on August 3, 2009


Lance Armstrong and sponsoring a pro cycling team will do for Radio Shack exactly what it did for USPS. Now Lafayette Electronics, that was a retailer....
posted by fixedgear at 3:32 PM on August 3, 2009


Radio Shack is the only electronics retailer that has remained in downtown Cincinnati, and for that, they get my thanks and my business.
posted by tizzie at 3:34 PM on August 3, 2009


Everyone agrees it's dying or transforming into a different niche, but it's got a lot of trademark goodwill to whore out before it's done.

I'm idly hoping that a bizarre series of events and focus groups will transform it into Answer Shack™: We've got radios!, a subscription service where you can call in to a research librarian to answer questions on a dick tracy watch.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:00 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


"As for rebranding, I don't understand that at all. Brinks home security just launched under a new name, they have many commercials out now touting the new name, and I can't remember it. Why throw away the mental association you have built up? You hear Brinks, you think security. You hear Radio Shack, you think cables, plugs, and other assorted electronics (overpriced, maybe, but electronics nonetheless)."

I think I know how to stop this rebranding nonsense. The next time you go into a store that's recently rebranded, wait for a chipper salesperson to say "Hi, welcome to [new name]!". Then you pause and look confused for a minute, then say "Oh, I'm sorry. I thought this was [old name]." Salesperson will say "We used to be [old name], but now we're [new name]." Then you say "You're trying to trick me into thinking you're [old name]! No, I won't be shopping here. I'm going to [old name]." Then you leave. If enough people refuse to recognize the rebranding, perhaps the business world have have second thoughts. It's time we used the Not Always Right stereotypical customer to our advantage!
posted by Servo5678 at 4:00 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is a Radio Shack two blocks away from us in downtown Burbank, and it's almost always completely empty. Once we saw a group of teenagers in there, but they weren't looking at anything; they were standing in an empty part of the store, seemingly discussing where to go once they got the hell out of Radio Shack. There are apartments above the store, and my husband said it must be easy to rent them out because it'd be completely quiet all the time. Every time we walk by, we wonder how that location stays in business.

Whenever we need something, we drive to Fry's. I wish every city had one; we've been lucky that we've always managed to have one nearby. I'm going to sound like a complete shill, but that place is awesome. Any sort of obscure piece of metal or wire you could ever need, they have. And not only do they have it, they usually have multiple options for it, and they're all generally cheap. We once bought a connector at Fry's for less than a dollar when Radio Shack wanted $40. I'm not joking. (Usually the price difference is more like $2-3 at Fry's for $25 at Radio Shack, and often the cheap option from Fry's is actually higher quality.) They have tons and tons of computer components. And then the rest of the place is just cool, like a Best Buy that isn't overpriced and has neat themes. The Fry's by our place has an alien theme, so there is a fake spaceship crashed into the front of the store, the entire back of the store is a spaceship, and there is a HUGE giant ant monster thing in part of the store. That thing is terrifying. Nothing at Radio Shack is terrifying, except maybe the prices.

When I think of what Radio Shack would need to do to make me go there, it's "become Fry's," not change its name. Although a name change might marginally help: I have so many grievances associated with it I'm not sure I would go to a place called Radio Shack even if they changed everything else about the store.
posted by Nattie at 4:40 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I hear "the Shack," I think, "the Unabomber."

As has been noted upthread, Radio Shack was rebranded "The Source by Circuit City" north of the border. Same store. They've since been bought out by Bell Canada, so I don't know what the hell's going on there nowadays; Bell Canada have a reputation as a bit of a shit-Midas, so it's probably fair to assume Canada's Radio Shack is a goner.

...which is a shame, really, considering the legendary role it played in the Short Circuit movie.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:39 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, Radio Shack...

A few years ago, I wanted to buy some copper wire to build an antenna. First, the clerk insisted on talking to my wonderfully Luddite boyfriend at the time, who answered every question with 'ask her, she's the geek here.' Then, the same clerk wouldn't let me buy the copper wire I was holding, because the wrapper said 'stereo'. Obviously, I needed the one with the wrapper that said 'antenna', even though the actual physical wire was completely identical. He insisted that he *knew* what I needed.

In the end, he ended up selling me 50 feet of copper wire for $2, instead of the original package of 10 feet of wire for $8. Because the package said 'antenna' on it. I was more than willing to buy the latter, but I couldn't - so, at the clerk's insistence, I gave the store, less money than I originally would have. No complaints here as I came out ahead, but that's probably not the best way to run a business...
posted by spinifex23 at 5:53 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I need a specific cable right goddamn now, there's a good chance they have it.

The last time I was there, a month or two ago, I discovered they didn't carry S/PDIF cables. That's been the most popular standard for digital consumer audio for what, a decade now?

I guess it was just that one store, because now I see that radioshack.com lists a bunch of both coax and fiber options... but if I'd wanted to shop online rather than making another convenient stop at the mall, I'd have found a much cheaper place to shop.
posted by roystgnr at 5:53 PM on August 3, 2009


Heh. I was in a Radio Shack just today, looking for a small circuit board and a small project box to put it in. I was pleased to find that they had a some of each. Here's the catch: their small circuit boards are too big to fit into their small project boxes.
posted by aneel at 6:09 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


My secondhand Realistic DX-360 Shortwave Portable is still rocking, after some serious abuse. I really want them to go back that kind of thing. RS went the way of Sears, selling other peoples stuff and pushing their own insurance on you, and that sadness pervades the whole store.
posted by drowsy at 6:10 PM on August 3, 2009


SpiffyRob:
... 2. Fake info. ...

Man, I bet "Joe Smith" at "123 Main St." got a LOT of RS flyers in the mail...
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:23 PM on August 3, 2009


I don't mind giving my zip code. If you like the store but it's a bit of a drive for you, and they see a lot of people coming from your zip code, maybe they'll build one closer.
posted by starman at 7:27 PM on August 3, 2009


Let's also not forget that Radio Shack was a pioneer in gutless email layoffs.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:31 PM on August 3, 2009


Plutor: There is a RadioShack about 100 feet from my house (the only stores closer are a CVS and a convenience store).

Holy shit, we're neighbors!?
posted by self at 8:03 PM on August 3, 2009


Radio Shack's price was somewhere around $23. To give you an idea of how high that is, the price from the wholesaler who we usually buy from is $2.60. Now this admittedly isn't a fair comparison, since that is comparing dealer cost to end-user pricing. However, the wholesaler's suggested retail price is $7.50.

Dude, Monoprice = $0.84!
posted by Chuckles at 8:08 PM on August 3, 2009


On that over the air antenna thing.. Ya, Radio Shack have missed many opportunities to differentiate themselves from 'normal' consumer electronics stores over the years. Why stop at antennas, how about free to air satellite TV. Why do they still have resistors and 7805s, but they don't even have a PICkit. They did have x10 home automation stuff, but they didn't invest any effort into finding a way to sell it.

What they did instead was move further toward the straight forward business model of a normal consumer electronics stores (I originally said "easy profits"...), but without learning anything from those stores about how to do business in that marketplace.

When Radio Shack re branded in Canada, it was due to a court ruling. Radio Shack Canada was an independent company that was bought out by Circuit City. Radio Shack America considered that to be a trade marking issue, and a judge agreed. I made a little money off all the Radio Shack branded stuff they had to sell off at fire sale prices, actually :)
(well, very little, but money is money!)
posted by Chuckles at 8:17 PM on August 3, 2009


I just don't get the Radio Shack sponsorship. Do they really expect Lance's fading celebrity to drive cyclists into their stores? Or are they going to start stocking parts for Shimano's new electronic shifting components?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:30 PM on August 3, 2009


It wasn't just the zip code; they used to ask for your phone number. So they could do a reverse lookup, and get your address and send you the weekly flyer advertising batteries, and the Radio Shack Battery Cub.

Yes, really, I'm that old, and like everyone else in this thread, I have these strongly mixed memories of Radio (with a space) Shack; one the one hand, as a kid you'd go in there with your Dad and buy cassette tapes or breadboards or random cables or (later, as an adult) LED lights, and inevitably the batteries. And yet I stopped going because of the incessant, couldn't take no for an answer, wouldn't ring up your purchase unless you gave over your phone number.

If Radio(with no space)Shack has a niche and maybe a future, it's their past, leveraging the nostalgia we have for the bushy sideburns and wide ties of the 1970s, sometime between when we'd watched Americans walking on the Moon on our curved-screen tube TVs and played 8-Track tapes in Dad's car and when we'd seen Star Wars for the first time, a time when still believed in technology and garage tinkers turned inventors and that we'd conquer the Energy Crisis and be astronauts when we grew up, and in the shiny radio-powered future of the USA.
posted by orthogonality at 9:37 PM on August 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


About 10 days ago I tweet-suggested that they should change their name to "Shack" after I went there and couldn't get a UHF-to-SMA adapter (it's a common radio part).
posted by neuron at 10:00 PM on August 3, 2009


When was the last time a retailer's re-branding like this actually succeeded in changing the public's image of the store?

I'm only asking this question half-rhetorically; I'm curious to hear about success stories regarding a move which typically garners nothing but a well-deserved head shake and some snark.


It takes about one human generation for brands to be perceived differently. I remember hearing in a podcast (I think it was an O'Reilly "Distributing the Future" one) that a phone company asked a research group how long it would take before people didn't think they sucked. The answer was 'about a generation'.... at which point the company said 'Screw that, we'll just change the name of the company.'
posted by Wild_Eep at 10:05 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


it warms my heart to be able to buy a 7805 or a sonar module in an actual store, rather than online. I hope that continues.
posted by heathkit


Eponysterical and "I see what you did there" are both not quite right but not that far off.
posted by weston at 10:08 PM on August 3, 2009


Allow me to introduce you to the best store in the whole world.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:15 PM

Best store in the world? Meet the best store in the galaxy.
posted by mcrandello at 2:50 PM on August 3 [+] [!]


I'll see your Ax-Man and Skycraft and raise you a Fair Radio Sales and a Murphyjunk.

But... no trip to the Twin Cities is complete without an afternoon in the Axman.

A visit to a Radio Shack, OTOH, is an act of desperation.
posted by drhydro at 10:27 PM on August 3, 2009


I had the same thought that if they were really smart they'd latch on to the ReadyMade/Make mag DIY crowd. But they won't.

But one thing remains true about Radio Shack. Everyone in there is crazy. The customers, the employees, everyone.

Also, if you run out of toilet paper, you can go in and buy one 9-volt battery and get a 4 foot long reciept.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:33 PM on August 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm amazed at all the positive remarks about Radio Shack being a go-to place for parts. When did that change? Back in the mid 80's, I was flirting with doing kit building. I'd find something that sounded cool and doable-by-me in a magazine. Then go to Radio Shack to discover they didn't have the stuff the magazine said they had. But then, 10 years latter, I lived in a place where Radio Shack was the one place that existed in town that had much of anything electronic.
posted by Goofyy at 3:43 AM on August 4, 2009


It just doesn't seem the same to build my cable descrambler for less than $12 with parts from The Shack...
posted by Hal Mumkin at 5:00 AM on August 4, 2009



I'd sooner take medicine than go to a Radio Shack. I'd rather wait for a delivery from Mouser.
posted by notreally at 5:13 AM on August 4, 2009


creationist Forrest M. Mims III

Wait, what?

*googles*

Oh FFS. How can a person clearly interested in and able to do science in other fields....ugh.
posted by DU at 5:51 AM on August 4, 2009


But where else can you find a fireman's hat with a flashing red light on top?
posted by Balisong at 6:16 AM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a friend who worked there--he said their unofficial slogan was "Selling shit to idiots."

Well, I used to buy components there, like transistors, diodes, solder, etc. They were great for that sort of thing.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:02 AM on August 4, 2009


Whenever we need something, we drive to Fry's. I wish every city had one; we've been lucky that we've always managed to have one nearby. I'm going to sound like a complete shill, but that place is awesome.

I miss Fry's, but they treat their employees like dirt. I'd feel better about it if I didn't see the look of desperation in their eyes.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:05 AM on August 4, 2009


I miss Fry's, but they treat their employees like dirt. I'd feel better about it if I didn't see the look of desperation in their eyes.

I don't have any inside information about how Fry's treats its employees, but I went a few weeks ago to buy some ethernet cables, which should've just involved me scooping them out of the bin. But the sales guy was absolutely insistent that he write up a ticket so he got credit for making a sale. It was just a couple of stupid network cables and I didn't need any help. So yeah, there was that desperation driving things.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:45 AM on August 4, 2009


I wonder what this Interocitor thingie they've sent me will do once I've built it?
posted by Artw at 9:56 AM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I wonder what this Interocitor thingie they've sent me will do once I've built it?"

Did you try turning the control disc eighteen degrees to the left? Are you in Europe? Do you need a converter?
posted by Servo5678 at 10:03 AM on August 4, 2009


Yeah, if RadioShack sucks, Fry's is worse.

Fry's is what RadioShack would have become if hobbyist and DIY electronics became as commonplace and as popular as, oh, wrenching on junky American cars.

Don't get me wrong. I love both of them. I still run into a RatShack if I need an adapter, fuse or other doohickey right away.

But Fry's? Fry's is hell. Yeah, it has real copperclad board and etching kits, and chips, and raw solder-tab rechargeable batteries. It also sells washing machines, toasters and freeze-dried astronaut ice cream for some fucking insane reason. Walking from one end of the store to the other can take up to thirty minutes, depending on your route and traffic.

I have never had any question I've had satisfactorily answered at Fry's. Not once. Never, ever. And we're talking simple stuff like "hey, is this audio card really 5.1 multichannel?"

And finding any given "new" computer part without one of those dreaded blue and white "refurbished - as new" labels on it is iffy at best. When you buy components at Fry's it's a given that your chances of getting a product that has been returned as broken and put right back out on the shelf are pretty damn good. Or it may have been dropped, stepped on, accidentally or intentionally left to soak overnight in badger urine, randomly found on a South American beach after a container ship sank in the North Atlantic last year.

And of course they make returning any item a terrifying, daunting journey akin to having your soul and heart weighed on a scale against a feather where you expect at any moment that your return will be denied because you're simply not pure enough.

And, yeah, not only do they treat their employees like dirt, but they treat their customers like dirt, too. I remember when Fry's was really just getting started with all the chain stores, and my folks were like "Oh, hey! You love computers! You should get a job there!"

"... ...Yeah, I love computers. That's exactly why I don't want a job there!"

Seriously, they pay crap and they hire the power-tripping rejects that couldn't cut it on the graveyard shift stocking shelves at a grocery store. (They pay much less than the going wages for grocery store workers.) I had briefly had a roommate who was employed at Fry's. He knew jack shit about electronics, computers or anything that Fry's sold and he hated nerds with notable aggression and passion. They promoted him several times before he quit.

Yeah, Fry's is an awesome pile of junk that has almost everything (likely including some kind of high tech kitchen sink) but it's a hellish business and company. It's probably worse than WalMart and McDonald's as far as business ethics are concerned.
posted by loquacious at 10:49 AM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


But the sales guy was absolutely insistent that he write up a ticket so he got credit for making a sale. It was just a couple of stupid network cables and I didn't need any help. So yeah, there was that desperation driving things.

They must have changed the sales commission methods and/or quotas in the last couple of years, because I had the same experience recently with buying similar small ticket items. I was really annoyed by that. "Hi, go away. I know what I want to buy. No, seriously. Fuck off. Shit, you actually are tilting your head sideways and invading my space to read the product code on the box tucked under my arm so you can write me a ticket anyway."

The guy I mentioned in my last comment said he quit over unpaid overtime and being stuck on a register for 8+ hours without a break. Apparently this is pretty common. The turnover rate for employees there is very high from what I've heard.

I've also heard that it's not entirely uncommon for there to be incidents of customer-on-employee violence from the frustration of trying to return broken shit sold as new. I've heard stories of hard drives being chucked at employees, with the results involving blood, paramedics, cops and assault charges and everything. I've certainly had to resort to shouting at various points trying to make returns.

I'm just thankful they don't ask me to check my bag or my water bottle on entry, because you damn near need a crew of sherpas to get around that place.
posted by loquacious at 11:08 AM on August 4, 2009


*decides on further reflection not to give loquacious that $20 gift certificate to Fry's*
posted by darkstar at 11:13 AM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey now. That's like 5-10 packs of astronaut ice cream!
posted by loquacious at 11:35 AM on August 4, 2009


The nearest Radio Shack to where I live (25 miles away) doesn't even sell electronic components anymore.
I went there to get a simple plug adapter so I could plug my laptop's power supply (which could take 240V) into a European outlet. They had the right adapter, but regardless the guy tried to sell me a $80 device which would power a space heater, converted 50hz 240VAC to 60hz 120VAC, and the whole nine yards because you "never know what you might need to use!". Then he had the balls to ask for my ZIP code and tried to sell me batteries.

Radio Shack is dying because their sales policy is so fucking high-pressure- they're quite happy to tell you that you can use one product with another just to make a sale, and you can't go in, be left in peace, and get help when you need it.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:40 AM on August 4, 2009


RadioShack to rebrand itself later this year to adioS
posted by jfrancis at 12:53 PM on August 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Hey now. That's like 5-10 packs of astronaut ice cream!

True, but you'd have to share with your Sherpas, and you know how they are about NASA space treats...
posted by darkstar at 1:28 PM on August 4, 2009


> True, but you'd have to share with your Sherpas, and you know how they are about NASA space treats...

"Dried snow? What the fuck?"
posted by loquacious at 3:45 PM on August 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Shortening business names to make them more casual/friendly doesn't appeal to me, but I understand what motivates their decision.

That said, I find it odd that a marketing team would consider "The Shack" at all inviting/appealing. Most times I hear/read the word "shack", it's referring to houses occupied by the impoverished. It's not quite "gulag" or "shanty", but "shack" by itself fails to radiate much positivity.
posted by yorick at 1:09 PM on August 5, 2009


Radio Yurt?

Radio Hole?

Radio Paper Bag in a Septic Tank?
posted by darkstar at 4:23 PM on August 5, 2009


I for one would so totally buy a resistor from Radio Yurt.
posted by localroger at 5:50 PM on August 5, 2009


So would I- however, I demand that any resistors I buy at Radio Yurt be made out of hand-mined, home-smelted copper and carbon from burned goat bones.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:56 AM on August 6, 2009


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