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A New Vision For RadioShack

A few weeks ago TWICE retail editor Alan Wolf commented upon a theory that Dell and RadioShack are potentially made for each other.

Not only do I believe that the idea has merit, I think RadioShack itself has a great deal of unrealized potential. There isn’t a home electronics fix-it person in the U.S. who does not realize that RadioShack is the place to go for an oddball part. The problem today is the chain is not selling the right oddball parts.

For example, I recently needed to buy a 10-amp fuse for my boat and guess who had dozens in stock. The RadioShack on East 23rd St. in Manhattan. While there I noticed an entire wall of electronic parts with yellowed cardboard packaging or encased in plastic bags made brittle by sitting on a store shelf untouched for years. People don’t need the transistors, wiring harnesses and for some unknown reason a radar gun that littered the back end of this store.

The build-your-own-crystal radio crowd is dead, but the build-your-own-PC geeks are out in force these days. These include the throngs of high-end gamers who buy very expensive computers and then look to overclock them and trick them out so they look cool.

But where is the huge selection of memory modules, computer chassis, fans, power supplies, etc. that the huge do-it-yourself computer builder community needs?

I recently spoke with the VP of merchandising for a national chain and he said up to 30 percent of his store’s floor space is dedicated to merchandise for the DIY customer. Most of the other big chains pay homage on some level to the DIY crowd, but a chain like RadioShack is positioned to dominate such a market.

As its CEO Julian Day says, there is a RadioShack within two miles of 94 percent of the American population. I bet there are a lot of PC-builders in that demographic.