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The Shack Gets the Shaft

For a business founded in 1921 and a part of America’s culture, you couldn’t ask for a more mis-managed trip to the bottom bin of retail. RadioShack Corporation is now filing for bankruptcy. And a huge part of the public might be askign what took so long, while the older consumers with a technology background might be saying “What a shame!”

At a time when America is leading such a rallying cry for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers, it’s ironic that one of the original stores to cater to this interest is calling it quits. But in fact, it was the retail chain who turned its back on its customer base, not the other way around. Up until the early 1980s, Radio Shack was the only store in town for circuits, motherboards, transistors, soldering tools, and all manner of electronic gear. Right up until the actual kits you would need to build a radio from scratch. Radio Shacks at the mall lead the home computer market with its Tandy line of computers, some of them years ahead of the competition.

But in the 1990s, that changed. Engineers now came into the store to be confronted with nothing but phones on display, with a few second-shelf peripherals on the side. If you asked the sales clerk where they kept the computer parts, they’d look at you with contempt. Radio Shack changed its mind and decided that the electronics geek market wasn’t what it wanted to go after – but they had no idea who they’d want to pursue instead.

While discouraged former customers left Radio Shack to go to Fry’s, Circuit City, or Office Depot, or even order supplies from online retailers, new customers failed to replace them. Radio Shack alienated their former hardcore geek base and in return found themselves without a customer base to stand on. Will anybody learn a lesson from this? It doesn’t seem likely. This article was shared to me by a friend on Twitter.com Lee Lovett.

1 comment

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