The Day (my) RadioShack Died.
I walked past my local liquidating RadioShack store today and witnessed what could only be described as retail dismemberment. The staff had done a good job of maintaining some semblance of still being “a store” by visually collapsing floorspace with a wall of displays that — as the inventory dwindled — moved ever closer to the entrance. However, the remaining products were a sad reminder of what brought the Shack down. And beyond the entrails of cables and cheap electronic parts, lay the empty shelves and displays of a dead retailer that seemingly lost it’s way decades ago, and no one got the memo.
Yet — I have always relied on having a RadioShack within reach. Not that I actually enjoyed the experience of going there, on the contrary – I was always a tiny bit uncomfortable with the fact that I was often the only customer in the store. I always felt like I was visiting THAT neighborhood garage sale; after realizing the offerings were all pretty dismal, you wished you could just disappear without hurting the seller’s feeling. No marimba playing frog taxidermy today, thanks.
On the other hand — that is precisely the reason I found myself there — if I needed an obscure wire, cord, plug, switch or battery — bulb, button, meter, bracket or antenna; they were my first stop.
I also must admit that as a well preserved technology time capsule — the Shack could be fun on certain levels. I would amuse myself by playing the “who woulda guessed ? was still sold in a bricks & mortar store” game. And if I was feeling competitive, I would include the Shack employee in a variation: the “what could this ? possibly be used for?” game. A KO bell – when I could stump even him (faded, dusty packaging often being their obvious tell).
RadioShack had a knack for being way late to any trend party. While I’m not sure they actually still sold CB radios — they recently still offered all the things needed to wire-up a CB — six different ways. They even sold 8-track player cleaning tapes — decades past the 8-track’s demise. I saw my last B&W tube television retailing as new product at the Shack.
Even the Shack seemed to be catching on, as you can see in their 2014 Super Bowl ad. Ironically, it may have been their very attempt to get-up-to-date that killed them. I will miss my RadioShack, but must admit to some relief as well. Rest in peace my friend.
Editor’s note: Possibly the Shack’s days were numbered when nerds started to emerge from the shadows and become the modern-day titians of all things cool and useful. Back when nerd was still a pejorative reference — the quintessential place to find them was RadioShack. Remarkably the very definition of nerd describes with great accuracy the RadioShack store experience.
“NERD: Overly intellectual, obsessive, or socially impaired. Spending inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, obscure, or non-mainstream activities, which are generally either highly technical or relating to topics of fiction or fantasy, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities… and may have difficulty participating in, or even following, sports.”