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Thread: Shack's end looking nigher than usual

  1. #21
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    There's another issue which tend to push me to the online shops: That whenever I enter a shop with the intention to have a look, not looking for anything very specific, then I'm immediately assaulted by some clerk wanting to know what I'm looking for and if they can help and whatnot. I'm tired of having to answer 'just looking', and feel their eyes in my back from then on. Soon after that I'm out, and I don't go there again.

    In Japan, on the other hand, they've got the right idea. At least in the region where I stay. You're left completely in peace, nobody approaching you, nobody tracking you, you're free to browse for as long as you wish. The moment you need some assistance you get it immediately though, and the clerk may wear a mic and headset for talking to somebody else who can answer more tricky questions. Great system. I've spent a lot of time in various shops there and found and bought a lot of items I wouldn't have if those shops had followed the traditional Western style of confronting every customer entering the shop. I even found a small shelf of electronic components in a home depot style shop. Never would if I couldn't have the comfort of browing the shop in peace.

    -Tor

  2. #22

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    I loved Radio Shack as a kid. Where else could you get LEDs and counters and stuff. But I've thought of them as irrelevant for a long time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Swvf3w6hcY4

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uniballer View Post
    ...I've thought of them as irrelevant for a long time...
    Well, RS is only irrelevant in the current configuration. If they enlisted more enlightened management who can see the futility of trying to sell the same things that other big boxes seem to be able to sell for much less, and embrace the opportunity to continue to serve Hams and electronics hobbyists, especially with the "order online and pick up at your local store" idea already proposed, THEN RS can change their relevancy.

    The RS infrastructure is already in place. They have the ability to ship items to within a few miles of almost anyone anywhere in the US. What they need to do is focus on a specific mission (or small set of missions) that can be supported by their existing infrastructure. This is practically a classroom case study of a company completely losing their focus. It's all very sad to me, and I sincerely hope that RS can revitalize itself.

    No, I, for one, do not want to just "let them die."

    smp

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by smp View Post
    No, I, for one, do not want to just "let them die."
    I get that. But if they don't come up with a new vision for the company that can be made to work pretty damn quick then it is inevitable. If there is sufficient diversity, and the corpse is not poisoned with "embalming fluid", then new life always arises from death (even if it is only maggots for a while).

    You have to wonder if RS is holding down the walk-in hobbyist supply niche just enough to discourage new entrepreneurs from entering the market. Or if there is simply not enough demand to support any new enterprise.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uniballer View Post
    You have to wonder if RS is holding down the walk-in hobbyist supply niche just enough to discourage new entrepreneurs from entering the market. Or if there is simply not enough demand to support any new enterprise.
    That is a *very* good question. Other large hobbyist venues seem to be mail-order only (now known as online-only, I guess) or they maintain one or a few brick & mortar locations and do the rest by mail-order / online. Without RS there, would those enterprises grow? Would someone new pop up to take up the opportunity?

    For me here in NH, I do not have any other physical location to go to directly to handle my hobbyist needs. As RS has declined as a reasonable possibility to obtain many things that I occasionally want, I have simply gone online to acquire what I need. The prospect of going online to purchase something, wait a day and then be able to pick up my order at the RS a couple of miles from my home is terrific to me. I just wish that the leadership at RS would get the idea and execute it (no pun intended).

    smp

  6. #26
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    The hobbyist market is tiny. If every Arduino was sold at a Radio Shack store, that would amount to selling 2 a month per store.

    Radio Shack needs to figure out what the next big electronics fad will be and get there first. The past decade RS has waited for the market to become saturated before entering: see phones. I don't think the small stores selling products that require a lot of shelf space can last.

  7. #27
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    Sadly, I think we've reached a point in time where electronics and computer gear have become appliances, like a toaster or coffeemaker. While there are collectors of old toasters, they aren't many--and I've yet to see a retro-toaster store.

    Even professional programmers today probably can't tell you what their language of choice is generating in terms of code. You'd be lucky to find one who even knows the instruction set of the CPU they're writing for. Hardware has devolved to be a commodity concept.

    There's a group of people who follow retro computing because it reminds them of a happier time in their life--those who would like to recapture the sense of discovery and wonder of their first computer. That's fine, but those people will age out (i.e. die or acquire a different set of interests). Many discover that you cannot step twice into the same stream.

    As an example, there are people who collect slide rules, but how many of them know how to do phasor math on them? When I was studying AC Circuits in school, that slide rule was a necessity, not a convenience. The interest in those sticks of bamboo or aluminum has aged out.

    So I don't see a particularly bright future in retrocomputing, sad as it might be. Radio Shack would be foolish to pursue that.

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    While there are collectors of old toasters, they aren't many--and I've yet to see a retro-toaster store.
    http://www.toastercentral.com/

    Granted, you will not find one of these in every community of 100K people or more.

  9. #29

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    I dunno, Chuck. Certainly that's true of the population and the IT industry in general, but there really has been a growing tinkerers' revival in the last few years. I've seen even trés moderne web-app Javascript C# .NET type programmers picking up an Arduino or a Propeller and just mucking around for the hell of it, and I've spoken with teenagers who are interested in C64 or NES homebrew - so I don't think it's merely nostalgia that makes old or low-power hobby computing interesting.

    Now, whether that's enough to sustain or even just help Radio Shack, who knows? But it's not nothing, and I wouldn't write off the future of retrocomputing so readily.
    Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73
    Synthesizers: Roland JX-10/SH-09/MT-32/D-50, Yamaha DX7-II/V50/TX7/TG33/FB-01, Korg MS-20 Mini/ARP Odyssey/DW-8000/X5DR, Ensoniq SQ-80, E-mu Proteus/2, Moog Satellite, Oberheim SEM
    "'Legacy code' often differs from its suggested alternative by actually working and scaling." - Bjarne Stroustrup

  10. #30
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    Uni, I was aware of that site. My point being that there will always be someone interested in buggywhips, but the world will probably not support a national chain of stores offering them. Indeed, there will always be trade between collectors (e.g. snuffboxes), but then only as objects to be put on the shelf for display or inclusion into catalogs. For example, I know of a fellow who collects old cornets (the musical instrument). They're nicely displayed in glass-fronted cases on his living room wall. No, he never plays them.

    That's what I'm referring to as "aging out". The object has lost its raison d'être--it becomes a simple object for display or cataloging, and not one that is routinely employed for use.

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