Manhattan, Kan. — Independent RadioShack dealer Frank Beer has formed a new buying group to support fellow franchisees of the bankrupt CE chain.
The new organization, Mega Tech Group (MTG), is affiliated with, but autonomous from, Mega Group USA, the 1,700-member buying group for independent furniture, CE, majap and bedding dealers.
Beer is a 30-year RadioShack veteran who spent half that time on the corporate side and the last 15 years running two franchised stores in Kansas. Like the approximately 750 other owners across the country, he operates his stores independently from the company and features his own unique blend of RadioShack branding and corporate inventory.
With the fate of the chain’s franchise agreements up in the air pending the outcome of a bankruptcy auction next week, Beer is looking to Mega Group to provide fellow franchisees with discounted merchandise through its negotiated vendor programs, as well as retail services like insurance, advertising, marketing, web design, consulting and IT support.
While industry buying groups are also thought to be courting RadioShack franchisees with the goal of creating dedicated chapters, Mega Group president Rick Bellows believes these store owners “need to have their own organization to create community and share best practices.
“It’s a critical component for them to have their own group,” he told TWICE.
Under the plan, Mega Tech members would have full access to Mega Group’s buying programs and services, and would attend its biannual conventions, perhaps with a separate slate of seminars. Merchandising programs would initially focus on CE and related accessories, but could eventually expand to major appliances and bedding, Bellows said.
The new group already has some 20 to 25 members on board — all current Mega Group dealers who also happen to be RadioShack franchisees — and about 80 businesses were on hand for a startup meeting in Kansas City. Beer anticipates another 200 owners joining over the next four weeks, depending on the outcome of the asset auctions.
Also looking to marshal the country’s franchisees is RadioShack store owner Ira Brezinsky, who has created an ad hoc committee of about 60 dealers to raise funds for legal representation in bankruptcy court, and is soliciting public contributions through a crowdfunding campaign.
For his part, Beer is getting the word out about Mega Tech this week with mailings and phone calls to potential members. Interested dealers can visit the group’s website at MyMegaTechGroup.com, and are invited to call him directly at (785) 537-1476.
Meanwhile, RadioShack’s Chapter 11 case continues to wend its way through a federal bankruptcy court in Delaware, with competitive bids due in yesterday for the chain’s remaining stores and assets.
Stalking horse bidder and lead lender Standard General is offering $200 million for 1,723 stores which it would divvy up with Sprint (see store list, here), and $20 million for the RadioShack trademark and brand. Auctions begin March 26.
Last month GameStop entered bids for 163 stores that were marked for closure, to be used by its Spring Mobile chain of authorized AT&T shops.
Of RadioShack’s approximately 2,000 other locations, about 1,400 have already been shuttered following liquidation sales, and the remaining 600 are expected to close by month’s end.
Separately, hometown newspaper the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that RadioShack headquarters was hit with another round of layoffs yesterday that took an estimated 50 to 100 jobs, leaving about 500 employees.