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Too bad about losing Radio Shack

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Too bad about losing Radio Shack

Postby engrssc » Wed May 24, 2017 10:31 pm

While of later years, they were less useful :cry: I still have some parts from them in several organs that I built. They became less and less valuable as they changed their sales strategy. R/S used to be a vital resource. I would make weekly visits to their nearest store, sometimes daily. That was quite a while ago. Now, most electronic parts that I buy are from sources online. And then there's the cost of shipping, whereas with R/S, maybe a small cost for gas. Assume that's generally true with most DIY organ builders these days. My probably most used supplier in the US is Mouser. What's yours?.

Rgds,
Ed
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Re: Too bad about losing Radio Shack

Postby Antoni Scott » Thu May 25, 2017 7:49 am

Good post. I really miss my Radio Shack. I was always buying little odds and ends from them, like conversion plugs from one size headphone jack to the other, and visa versa. Plus those extension cords, etc. Just recently I was looking for those S shaped soldering iron tips for my old Weller soldering iron. Now I have to go on-line and find them and then pay outrageous shipping which in some cases costs more than the item itself.
If you have the luxury of time and can wait, many times I find items , of which the construction quality is not that important, from China where the shipping is free. In 99% of my on-line purchases, shipping costs are the make or break decision maker.

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Re: Too bad about losing Radio Shack

Postby Grant_Youngman » Thu May 25, 2017 9:22 am

engrssc wrote:My probably most used supplier in the US is Mouser. What's yours?.


Mouser or Digi-Key for electronic parts, McMaster-Carr for hardware. For a long time I was deep into the restoration of vintage electronics, and there were/are other sources for things the major on-line shops had long ago dropped from inventory. I used to live in Dallas, where there are good alternatives — surplus (Tanner, et al), and other actual electronic suppliers. I found a whole new set of exact replacement reed relays for my Rodgers pedalboard sitting in a bin at Tanner several years ago for 5 cents each. Now, I live in a parts wasteland, and R/S was the only quick source for the odd part or other I didn't already have — but I most often walked out empty handed anyway.

The problem with R/S (and the big box one-size-fits-all hardware stores, too) is that if you go with a list of 10 things you need, you're lucky to find half and still have to place an on-line order for the rest. Who could possibly need a 2-56 flat-head screw, anyway :-)
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Re: Too bad about losing Radio Shack

Postby Eric Sagmuller » Thu May 25, 2017 11:29 am

Usually Mouser for my electronic parts. Radio Shack has been useless to me for years, haven't been in there for as long.

For mechanical/ hardware McMaster is the best. However I get free shipping and discount pricing from MSC and Grainger as a benefit from my job, as they have contracts with them.

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Re: Too bad about losing Radio Shack

Postby magnaton » Thu May 25, 2017 2:49 pm

They seemed to have abandoned their core business for all the geeky stuff like various audio cables, connectors, adapters, and actual component parts. These items from the past were of decent quality and reasonlby priced. I too have some older electronic parts from the late 1970s that are still working! Remember the battery of the month club? And those were good batteries!

In the 1990s, the R/S brand of PZM microphones was actually made by Crown! Crown had a the same model but looked quite different and cost 3 times more but internally they were identical! It was a secret to anyone outside of the recording field.

I'd blame the demise of R/S on their top management. It became obvious they were scrambling to find their market from RC cars, to mobile phones, disco lights, or other contemporary items they thought would keep them afloat. Whenever I'd walk into a store the last few years it seemed different each time. In 2009 they were the lead sponsored a cycling team with Lance Armstrong. I know they were struggling then so why do this? Pro cycling takes major dollars . . . hello :? !

Finally, about two years ago my son needed a 1/8" stereo male-2-male replacement cable for his headphones. The store was well stocked on these because they were WAY overpriced, something like $14.99! The packaging even said, made in China exclusively for Radio Shack. So we ordered one from Amazon.

My sources for electronic parts have been Sparkfun, Parts Express, and on occasion Amazon.

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Re: Too bad about losing Radio Shack

Postby engrssc » Thu May 25, 2017 5:51 pm

Grant_Youngman wrote:
engrssc wrote: Who could possibly need a 2-56 flat-head screw, anyway :-)
'

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_sacat=0&_nkw=2-56+screws&_sop=15

Last week I ordered (additional) 100 pcs 1.25" flat head 2-56 screws and 100 pcs S/S 2-56 nuts. I use them quite frequently. Very useful in securing such as double sided prototype boards.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/10pcs-4x6cm-Double-Side-Prototype-PCB-Universal-Printed-Circuit-Board-Panel-New-/132200253534?hash=item1ec7bfc85e:g:dtMAAOSw9N1VuJ1K

The screws can be used as standoffs if you double nut the screws. The 4 edge mounting holes need to be opened up slightly with a 2.00 mm drill.

I look for listings that say n/o stock.(new, old stock) items. Usually very reasonable prices. Problem is, I see a really good deal on something that I don't need right now, but probably will in the future. Following every good deal like that, you can become a "warehouse". I "cushion" that decision thinking I can always resell if it turns out I don't really need such and let eBay and USPS make a profit. :roll:

Rgds,
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Re: Too bad about losing Radio Shack

Postby jbittner » Fri May 26, 2017 9:55 am

Radio Shack really had no choice but to change it's focus from supplying electronic parts to a purveyor of consumer electronics. The days of do-it-yourself hobbyist electronics was largely over in the '80s due to increasing miniaturization of parts and circuits and the home computer revolution. Heathkit was another victim of changing times. One could argue that R/S focused on the wrong areas of the consumer market, the quality of their items declined, and the helpfulness of their staff became non-existent, but the need for a neighborhood store for electronic hobbyists was over.

Digi-Key and Jameco are my go-to sources for parts these days along with Amazon, eBay, and Adafruit.
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Re: Too bad about losing Radio Shack

Postby NickNelson » Fri May 26, 2017 10:40 am

It's much the same in the UK too I'm afraid.

We have Maplin - a nationwide chain of stores who still maintain (limited) stocks of electronic components, connectors, cable, materials and kits, but they are steadily moving in the same direction described for Radio Shack focussing increasingly on consumer stuff. Also, the staff while generally trying to be helpful don't really seem to understand as much about what they sell as they used to.

Mostly I use RS (odd coincidence, it used to be 'Radiospares') who I have a trade account with (for the more esoteric parts) or Rapid Electronics (cheaper but with a much less comprehensive range). These are both mail-order although there is an RS trade counter in Leeds for same day collection if I'm having a crisis of some sort. Otherwise nearly everthying arrives by post the next day.

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Re: Too bad about losing Radio Shack

Postby magnaton » Fri May 26, 2017 12:30 pm

jbittner wrote:Radio Shack really had no choice but to change it's focus from supplying electronic parts to a purveyor of consumer electronics. The days of do-it-yourself hobbyist electronics was largely over in the '80s due to increasing miniaturization of parts and circuits and the home computer revolution. Heathkit was another victim of changing times. One could argue that R/S focused on the wrong areas of the consumer market, the quality of their items declined, and the helpfulness of their staff became non-existent, but the need for a neighborhood store for electronic hobbyists was over.


I totally agree with your post. I wish they could have found their next consumer niche and still kept the cables and connectors. My local Guitar Center has a large wall of "LiveWire" brand every imaginable cable and adapter, just like you would find at R/S in years past. :-) I feel it could have been done as the items we're discussing can still be had mainly via internet or specialty electronic stores like Fry's (if your city is big enough to have one).

Oh yea, looks like Best Buy maybe having some market identification issues too. Don't get me started on the technical prowess of their staff!

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Re: Too bad about losing Radio Shack

Postby engrssc » Fri May 26, 2017 1:36 pm

I could be wrong, but I get the impression that many stores, such as B/B focus on new sales vs repairs or other tech assistance. Margins (profit) are bigger. You can take a new hire, sit him (or her) down for a couple hours to memorize the "talking points". They are "now" prepared to deal with the public. The word for today is Sell, Sell, Sell. :roll:

I've witnessed where in some stores, there appears to be a limited amount of time that can be spent with a customer. Longer than "that" is considered - non productive.

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Re: Too bad about losing Radio Shack

Postby ArnoldOrgans » Fri May 26, 2017 4:36 pm

magnaton wrote: I'd blame the demise of R/S on their top management. It became obvious they were scrambling to find their market from RC cars, to mobile phones, disco lights, or other contemporary items they thought would keep them afloat. Whenever I'd walk into a store the last few years it seemed different each time. In 2009 they were the lead sponsored a cycling team with Lance Armstrong. I know they were struggling then so why do this? Pro cycling takes major dollars . . . hello :? !

Danny B.


Being one of the younger ones in the VPO business (36) I only remember R/S being useful for RC Cars, CB's, Scanners and possibly a classic high power 2 channel stereo receiver. I think the main thought with the RC cars was to give a dad something to buy his son after he spent 15 minutes looking through the few electronics bins and not finding what was needed. Maybe this is because as a kid I spent too much time looking at toys waiting for dad!

It has only been recently with the selling of NOS that I have actually seen R/S products that could be useful. Apparently they thought having all the MIDI and speaker cables sitting in storage to some day end up on Amazon was better than on the shelves.
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Re: Too bad about losing Radio Shack

Postby sjkartchner » Sun May 28, 2017 4:49 pm

Keep in mind that brick and mortar retail in general is suffering a precipitous and likely irreversible decline. See this excellent article discussing some of the factors leading to that decline: http://www.startribune.com/lee-schafer-social-trends-portend-dire-future-for-brick-and-mortar/424655113/.
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Re: Too bad about losing Radio Shack

Postby organtechnology » Mon May 29, 2017 10:21 am

I for one am not going to miss the new reincarnation of Radio Shack at all. Amazon, Mouser, Digikey, Sparkfun, et al have made getting the same parts Radio Shack sold very easy. And delivery by the Amazon elves is uncannily swift.

The old Radio Shack (pre-bankruptcy) made the decision somewhere around the start of the new millennium to focus on cell phone sales because they were more apt to bring customers to the store to get their cell phones set up. Radio Shack chose the CDMA carriers Verizon and Sprint and did extremely well with them.

The parts and other things were relegated to other parts of the store in an arrangement to make a parts customer walk by the phone displays and sales people were instructed to ask everyone if they had a phone or needed another phone and their performance was measured by how many cell phones they sold..

This business plan worked well for some years as R/S was a top agent for Verizon and Sprint until upper management decided to take on AT&T. That caused them to lose Verizon and began the decline of the cell phone business that R/S never recovered from. In addition the AT&T and Sprint cell phone business slowed due to other market causes like saturation and competition. Then came the Sprint scandal. Some stores in the R/S empire were selling large numbers of Sprint phones to people with no credit and improper IDs. I think that caused the phone business to begin its real decline. The parts business had also declined because very few of the sales people knew anything about them and their commissions came from selling phones not parts. The scandal of the president of the company having a falsified resumé and other scandals of dishonesty in store management hit hard at confidence. The slogan "You have questions, we have answers" was considered a joke among the employees as the training was non-existent by then.

Also a "radio shack" is a place usually on a boat where the communication equipment was kept and ham radio operators have used the term "ham shack" to describe where their radio are kept since the begining of radio. But if you wanted to be sued call your buisiness a "shack" and R/S lawyers would be right over.

I will miss Radio Shack about like I miss Circuit City, that is not at all.

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Re: Too bad about losing Radio Shack

Postby engrssc » Mon May 29, 2017 11:03 am

Applying to R/S (directly) - there's a saying which could apply maybe - "Don't let the door hit ya, where the good Lord split ya". :o

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Re: Too bad about losing Radio Shack

Postby magnaton » Mon May 29, 2017 11:37 pm

organtechnology wrote:
I will miss Radio Shack about like I miss Circuit City, that is not at all.

Thomas


LOL :lol: excellent comparison . . . I do believe that Circuit City's competition to Best Buy at that time made them a good (better) place to shop. Now that CC is gone, Best Buy has 'relaxed' quite a bit.

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