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The New Circuit City: We Ain’t No RadioShack

Word here last week of a Circuit City comeback unleashed an unprecedented avalanche of social, digital and traditional media reaction.

While many welcomed a return of the iconic retail brand, others criticized the Circuit City team, led by CEO Ronny Shmoel and business development VP Albert Liniado, for simply repeating the RadioShack model.

Indeed, the duo’s vision includes hundreds of small neighborhood stores, stocked with a distinctly Shack-like assortment of mobile phones, headphones, DIY, private-label accessories and even RC toys.

But the similarity ends there, insisted Shmoel, who described RadioShack as a retail relic.

“Their assortment is antiquated; it’s based on an era that was 40 years ago,” he argued.

Circuit City, in contrast, “is going to be all about connectivity,” very much a 21st century category, that will be well-represented by Bluetooth, wearable, networking, action-cam, and home-automation devices.

>>ICYMI: Circuit City Set To Return This Spring

Other gaps in RadioShack’s lineup include laptops and TVs, he said, while the stores themselves are rundown and provide a poor customer experience.

“There’s nothing attractive there, there’s no draw,” Shmoel charged. On the other hand, “We’re working with Sony PlayStation to create kiosks that carry wearables, phones and gaming” that will help make Circuit City stores “a destination.”

He also described a rigorously trained team of sales associates, dubbed “specialists,” who will be another key traffic driver.

“Why walk into a store?” he asked. “It’s the convenience of buying something on the spot; it’s seeing and trying the product first-hand; and it’s to get advice from a trained, knowledgeable associate. That’s why we’re focused on sales training.”

The endeavor is expected to get off the ground in June. That’s when Circuit is slated to open its first store, in Dallas, and will herald the third coming of