Radio Shack… Or What’s Your Bucket?

The following story and recommendation is solely based on the information I’ve gathered from news articles, wikipedia, glassdoor, and any article I could find on Google. Enjoy.

RadioShackDear Radio Shack, Allied Radio Shack, Tandy, The Shack or whoever you are, I don’t think you know your own name, so I’ll just call you… Done!

The following is a brief history of you, why you were born and the cause of your death.

Radio Shack:

  • 4297 Stores
  • 1784 Closing
  • 274 Mexico
  • 1921 Founded to provide parts for ham radios
  • 1939 Issued First Catalog
  • 1954 Began private label parts
  • 1962 Purchased by Tandy
  • 1970 Purchased Allied Radio, renamed Allied Radio Shack
  • 1970 Entered Australia, UK and Canada
  • 1977 Introduced TRS 80
  • 1980s Removed Radio Shack name for Tandy computers
  • 1988 Acquired Grid System Corp
  • 1990 Exited computer manufacturing market
  • 1991 Acquired Computer City chain
  • 1992 Tandy attempted to launch Incredible Universe stores
  • 1993 Sold Grid System Corp
  • 1994 Introduced The Repair Shop service
  • 1996 Sold Incredible Universe stores to Fry’s Electronics
  • 1998 Sold Computer City chain
  • 1999 Exited UK
  • 2002 Exited Australia
  • 2004 Exited Canada
  • 2004 “Fix 1500” initiative
  • 2004 class action lawsuit with over 3,300 current and former managers
  • 2004 lawsuit against
  • 2006 closed close to 500 stores
  • 2006 CEO David Edmondson resigned
  • 2006 COO Claire Babrowski resigned
  • 2006 20% headquarters workforce reduction announced
  • 2009 CEO Julian Day named one of the “10 Crappiest CEO’s of 2009” by “The Consumerist”
  • 2009 rebranded to “The Shack”
  • 2009 met with BBB to discuss unanswered complaints
  • 2011 CEO Julian Day resigned
  • 2012 CEO James Gooch stepped down
  • 2012 130 worker layoff
  • 2013 CEO Joseph Magnacca hired
  • 2015 Filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

As you can see, you were never a stable company but lucky to ride a few waves of popular products during your life. This luck hid the fact that you were mismanaged and lacked leadership. You were technically bankrupt, spending more than you earned at the time of your purchase in 1962 by Tandy. The debilitating birth defect that continually haunted your innards was your uncaring nature, and it trickled right down to your customers. I don’t know of a time when you treated your employees as if they would produce a high return. Instead you treated them as your enemy, whipping them to submission. So, what do you expect other than death? Most likely your managers and employees would have built you into a giant if you would have listened.

From what I could gather, Radio Shack had a true identity. The founding concept was to supply parts to ham radio users. They didn’t sell ham radios, they sold the parts to repair them. This proved to be profitable. However, somewhere they became distracted with riding that big wave of a new innovation and began to thrash back and forth from one direction to another, on a crusade to make the mighty dollar.

The main problem was never building a lasting culture where employees could create value in their stores for their customers. They should have focused their efforts toward their people and creating value in them, giving them stable, clear direction.

I enjoyed Radio Shack growing up. Any hard to find electronic part could be found in a Radio Shack store. I frequented them often. But then I noticed them change when the computer was introduced. Radio Shack divorced their name and sold computers as Tandy. They thought Radio Shack had a bad name. It didn’t work.

Radio Shack would have been better off sitting down and discovering who they were instead of trying to complete with other electronic and department stores. Now they’re only a cell phone store. A shopping mall kiosk, which makes no sense. In a sense, they are trying to sell the radio, instead of the parts.

Autozone doesn’t sell cars… they sell car parts.

The last three times I was in their store, they did not have what I needed. It surprised me. I haven’t been back.

Although they are dead, here is my recommendation. Radio Shack began as a specialty parts store for techies of ham radios. Theses enthusiasts could find any ham radio part they needed for repair.

Why not become a techie part store for computer geeks and any other specialty hobby. There is a whole population of geeks that love building their own computers. Why not be a techie store for electrical components for cars, chipping your car is a popular thing. A techie store for sewing machines. You don’t sell sewing machines, you sell aftermarket components for sewing machine experts. I’m sure there are all kinds of tech out there to supply parts.

Drones are the craze now and I’ll bet they’ll need repair. I wonder who could be the “go to” part store for the drone pilots… not Radio Shack… I mean The Shack… or maybe it’s Tandy?

The point is never deviate from your core, which is a techie part store. You sell uncommon parts for the uncommon techie. The do it yourself-er. So, whatever the tech, you sell the parts.

Not only parts and accessories, but hard to find, high quality, really cool parts and accessories.

The real problem with you Radio Shack was the disconnect from the tire hitting the pavement. There was no leadership, and no connection to your business. You never knew your store managers and never listened to them. I believe they could have saved you years ago and today would be a retail giant to the do it yourself techie.

Radio Shack is the example of what not to do when leading a business. It seems they lead by instinct and did not follow many of the leadership perspectives I discuss in “Attitude Reflects Leadership”. After reading the history and many of the articles, it does not surprise me that Radio Shack is now six feet under.

Goodbye Radio Shack… The Shack… or What’s Your Bucket?

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