Radio Shack is Short-Circuiting

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member

I'm old enough to remember the Tandy Corporation, the parent Company of Radio Shack as a real powerhouse. As a teen, I used to ride my bicycle six miles round-trip to my closest Radio Shack Store to spend my paper route profits. Next door to it was Tandy Leather Company and often, my Mother would have me pick up leather kits for her. In her spare time she laced and tooled moccasins, purses and wallets to give as Christmas gifts. I bought my second pair of CB Walkie Talkies and my first UHF TV antenna at that store and getting the antenna home on my Stingray bicycle wasn't easy. Tandy Leather went away in my area around 1971 but one store 20 miles north of me soldiers on.

Then, I discovered a second Radio Shack store five blocks away from the first store, but they had a smaller inventory and that store failed after a couple years - but at the time, all Radio Shack stores sponsored a "Battery Club" (one free battery per month) so every month I rode my bike to both stores for free 9 volt batteries for my Walkie Talkies.

A third store opened north of me about three miles away and I joined their program as well. I collected three dozen free batteries per year and the store programs saved me about $25.00 per year based on $0.69 per copy, which was real money to a seventh grader in the late 1960s. I used the Walkie Talkies to stay in touch with my parents when I collected for my paper route at night and being in Seattle the Winter sun sets well before 5 PM. Dad wasn't concerned but it satisfied my Mom to know where I was, plus it was fun!

The CB Radio hysteria of the late 1960s and early to mid 70's was breaking (breaker-breaker ... pun intended) and Lafayette Radio and Radio Shack went head-to-head selling radios, power supplies, coaxial cable, antennas, Police Scanners and Weather Radios almost as fast as they could get them. An incredible boom time for sales and Lafayette Radio lost the war (all three local stores closed) although in my opinion their products were usually superior.

Songs like Convoy with long-haul truckers talking on their radios were popular and Wolf Creek Pass was another one.


The TV Series Movin' On, was a short lived hit that arrived late on TV. In those days gasoline and diesel was very hard to find and when found, cost and availability was important to Joe six-pack and critically important to truckers. CB radios helped the truckers survive the Jimmie Carter "malaise".


Convoy, Movin' On and other Hollywood productions encouraged the fad and as a result Radio Shack stock peaked over $72.00 per share on the NYSE. After the CB fad fell away, they sold Cordless land line phones (ultimately obsoleted) and FRS (Family Radio Service) Walkie Talkie radios and I bought a pair. The market (again) became saturated and technology advanced to cellular telephones that really worked, not the early days of promises.

Most of their Realistic (trademarked) Stereo lineup were entry level products with few exceptions such as some of the Minimus bookshelf bookshelf speakers which was a fluke considering their original prices. Look on Craigslist to see how much they hold their value today: equal or better. To my knowledge Radio Shack never offered an upgraded quality 'audiophile' level of equipment.

The dealers in my area always had a pretty good selection of small electronic parts like resistors and capacitors in stock, but their online catalog of fittings and oddball batteries is awesome! BUT -- they never advertise this in their stores and that is an enormous mistake! I have a VOM (meter) from around 1964 that uses a battery that is exactly like a AA cell, except it is half as long.

The Radio Shack 'hive' still has them in stock today but almost no one knows what they actually have available and the poorly trained sales people usually don't know what customers are asking for, they don't know they can access the Corporate stockpile from the stores and they don't know to suggest customers can search from their own computer.

Component Parts and DIY Components | RadioShack

I think the rapid decline of the business is because Corporate Radio Shack remembered the CB radio communication boom and they put their eggs in one basket, hoping to become a major retailer of Cell Phones and later, Smart Phones. However, unlike the CB Radios they sold years before, they didn't have their own name brand or special upgraded version of a known or popular brand which would have attracted many shoppers. Only 52 weeks ago Radio Shack stock closed at $4.36 per share and Friday it closed at $0.92 per share. The price drop from over $72.00 (peak) is astonishing.

I think the writing is on the wall, but if Radio Shack can fall back and regroup I will certainly support them. While researching this blog I read comments on other articles and one reader suggested Obama should bail them out with your tax dollars just like General Motors. No.


Here's a link to what Radio Shack has to say.
RadioShack Corporation - Investor Relations - 2014 News Releases

Radio Shack Historical Information
Great post! I thought their self-effacing superbowl ad campaign was going to save Radio Shack, but it doesn't look like it. Seems mad that they haven't tried to re-brand themselves as a specialist electronics store.


A+! I remember when Radio Shack was busy and full of people buying components. I believe back then there were adults who started electronics clubs for kids. The knowledge of electronics and DIY was passed on. The idea of actually LISTENING to music was still viable. Like a lot of things, it only takes two or three generations for basic concepts and "truths" to be lost or re-educated out of the minds of kids.


The Minimus line was German if I remember correctly. It was a very popular rear surround speaker. I had a set for my PC sound system. Mine was gunmetal and made of cast aluminum I think. It has been a while.
Radio Shack used to be where geeks went to OGLE at the latest whiz-bang computer gear. Introduced in August of 77, the TRS-80 Model 1 came out just two months after the Apple II computer at less than half the price. The Commodore C64 and Atari computers quickly followed, but the "trash-80" dominated the "built and working" computer market for years. Most previous computers were in kit form, and lacked minor little accessories like, oh, a keyboard... a monitor... or any way to interface that good stuff.
Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 model I computer

Just 3 years later, Radio Shack brought the incredible Sharp PC-1211 to the U.S. Rebranded as the PC-1, it had more memory than the original TRS-80, its own built-in LCD display, alphanumerics (upper case only, IIRC), the BASIC programming language in ROM, and a reasonably priced printer/cassette interface which added hard copy output and unlimited storage! The price was cut in half again to $230, and you could hold it in the palm of your hand or stuff it in a shirt pocket.
Radio Shack TRS-80 Pocket Computer

The Personal Computer wasn't even a glint in Bill Gates' eye at that point. That's right: "PC" originally stood for Pocket Computer, back when men were men, and "structured programming" meant putting your line numbers in order.



Wow. Pocket-size. I remember a guy showing me a program that predicted loss of lives, per city, from a nuclear attack. It was on a cassette tape that connected to his computer. Some kind of early Civil Defense thing.

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member

In High School I worked for a place called Data Systems and Services and they were an IBM punch-card computer new-used-repair business. They added Xerox owned 'Versatec' electronic computer systems that used (audio) cassette tapes for memory before 5.5" floppy discs were invented and long before 'modern' 3.5" floppies.



I used to be able to actually get most components to fix my type 40 at any 20th century radio shack but now if i break down in this decade i have to wait for the parts i need to come in the mail from china!!

good thing i run an old "outdated and obsolete" type 40 she can usually be modified to accept parts from any era to much degragation in function... well ok somtimes...more like she'll go but i just dont know where...probably

But hey here is a spoiler for those of you reading RS is going to be re-organized because so many people are screaming at them to put the RADIO back in the SHACK! and although eventually they get bought by an independent investor and the name is changed rest assured that everyones favorite electronics parts shop will once again be what you need.

The really nice thing is the new owner will refuse to carry any cell phones and intructs his employers to "point and laugh if any customer come in asking for cell phones"

but for now im stuck where i am untill the postal service delivers the 12gb6t and dutrainium/cobalt plasma inverters i ordered 2 weeks ago from an artifact dealer the other side of the planet. BTW DO NOT SHIP WITH UPS THEY BREAK EVERYTHING!!

just thought youd like to know

- The Doctor

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