Radio Shack is going to shut 1100 of its stores due to a plunge in sales last business quarter. It recently rebranded its physical stores, logo as well as its focus of what they prefer to sell but that hasn’t helped much. In fact, I think that the new logo and repositioning of the brand is disconnected from the DIY electronics culture that it once fostered. It’s missing a great opportunity to empower its customers to learn about electronics and computer programming.
When I was in high school, I made a telegraph from scratch. I had instructions from a library book and went collecting the necessary items and built it. It still works today. I went to Radio Shack to fetch the necessary electric parts. I was great fun.
And years before that, I was fortunate to have a small crystal radio lab kit that could be configured to perform about a dozen different electronic experiments. It was thrilling. I learned about basic electrical circuits. One experiment lit up a tiny lightbulb. Another made a noise. And, of course, I was able to make a crystal radio and actually hear radio stations through the tiny earpiece. To this day, I still connect those experience of learning and experimenting with electronics with Radio Shack.
But the Radio Shack that I knew as a young person doesn’t care much about inspiring people with the magic of electronics. I do not know why this is so. But If they want to gain back market share beyond mobile phones and cases, then they should start by showcasing their electronic labs.