Flashback: November 2014

A few months after this cartoon was printed, RadioShack Corp. filed for bankruptcy. I'd like to say I was somehow ahead of everyone else, but it was obvious to anyone that the stores were circling the drain.

Anyway, I was quoted in my local paper and this cartoon was cited:
“They chased away their existing customers and never brought new ones in,” said Togyer, who is an amateur and broadcast radio enthusiast. “The problem with RadioShack is that it was no longer the place where serious guys went to get stuff.”

 Togyer, who penned a cartoon that ran in the November issue of CQ Amateur Radio magazine parodying the chain's move away from radio gear into toys and cellphone equipment, said the company cut ties to a customer base interested in technology and experimentation and set its sights on the cellphone market instead.

The problem with the strategy, he said, is that market now is saturated and all the cellphone networks have their own retail outlets.
“It's one of the biggest disasters in retail history, how they wrecked that company,” he said.
Togyer said, if the company had welcomed the techies and computer-savvy people that once frequented its stores instead of taking away their reasons for going there, things might have come to a different end. He noted that today's tycoons mostly come from the science and technology industries.
Had the company reversed course and reopened its doors to hobbyists, he said it might have seen success from a new breed of do-it-yourselfers interested in robotics.
“It's sad for the employees and their investors,” he concluded. “But their customers left them a long time ago.”
I would stand by my comments, and will elaborate here: I don't think there is any kind of a fortune to be made in selling resistors and capacitors to hobbyists, but anyone could have seen that RadioShack was going to lose its shirt trying to sell cellular phones.

At the same time RadioShack was discontinuing ... well, radios ... they also made an ill-advised move into trying to sell larger appliances, such as flat-screen TVs. With most Americans within five miles of a Wal-Mart, a K-Mart or a Target, why would you buy a flat-screen TV from RadioShack, where you were going to have a smaller selection and higher prices?

And finally, I would reiterate that RadioShack's niche was serving hobbyists—not just ham radio buffs, but do-it-yourself people who like to tinker with cars, robots, computers and all sorts of gadgets. They were RadioShack's only loyal clientele, but RadioShack made a deliberate effort to chase them away, and they did it just when the "maker" movement was taking off.

I mean, their timing was impeccable. Until a few years ago, you could walk into most RadioShack stores and find record needles in stock. Well, most RadioShacks stopped carrying them—just as people in their 20's and 30's rediscovered vinyl records.

Repeat that same example for everything RadioShack once carried—antennas, computer parts, other electronic parts, switches, home automation devices, tools.

As RadioShack drastically downsized their store inventory, clerks told me time and time again, "You can still order that from our website." True, I could, but I could also order it from one of your competitors and get free shipping and lower prices, in many cases.

It is hardly any secret, then, why RadioShack eventually filed for bankruptcy.

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