After 94 years, Radio Shack goes on the fritz forever.

February 6, 2015

Last year the Super Bowl! This year the scrap heap.

I grew up with Radio Shack. Like 7-11, they were everywhere. And like 7-11, they offered quick stop shopping, in their case for consumer electronics and myriad electrical supplies. I may have bought a Sony Walkman there. I don’t remember. What I mostly purchased at Radio Shack were blank cassettes, CD’s and floppy discs. And well, we all know what happened to those. For all intents and purposes they are extinct or, at best, just hanging on.

My Tweet: Let’s face it anything with the words “radio” and “shack” in its title had it coming…

For the last 10 or 15 years (maybe longer) Radio Shack clung to existence. As Best Buy and Circuit City floundered and died somehow the Shack persisted in subsisting. That in and of itself was a miracle.

I kind of rooted for them. Nostalgically, Radio Shack comprised a tiny bit of bandwidth in my aging, shrinking brain, representing Saturday morning excursions for a pack of batteries or ear buds. But then those things were available at Walgreens and, frankly, anywhere else that had a cash register. To say nothing of Amazon.

Even when Radio Shack was big it had painted itself into a corner. Quick electronics on the cheap always struck me as a shaky platform. When by comparison, Best Buy is considered “high end” you know you’re in trouble.

ViviCam 3765
“We get twice the crowd on Saturday!”

For a good chunk of its 94 years it didn’t matter. People defaulted to Radio Shack for camera batteries and the like long after they had to. Such was its appeal. But eventually my grandfather died. Mom got a Costco card. Radio Shack dimmed like an old TV tube never to be replaced.

Radio Shack did not go down without a fight. Various ad campaigns entered the ring but, alas, were completely clobbered. Even if some of it was vaguely clever and/or self-aware, marketing could not save them. The Super Bowl could not save them! Calling one’s self “The Shack” and trying to be a neighborhood pal isn’t sustainable in consumer electronics. Now when you’re opponents are Amazon and Wal-Mart.

The stark reality is no one under retirement age will miss Radio Shack. But they are at least worth saying good by to.

The details of RS’s demise on, of all things, Gawker.

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