Here’s one for the “where are they now” file. Bloomberg reports on anonymous sources saying that Radio Shack’s successor, General Wireless Operations, is about ready to file for bankruptcy…again.
After Radio Shack filed for bankruptcy in 2015, Sprint snagged 1,400 of the defunct chain’s 4,000 stores and pumped $75 million in financing into it to carry on the Radio Shack name. However, it doesn’t seem to have done so well. Bloomberg attributes the failure to lackluster foot traffic and stiff competition from e-commerce.
I’d be inclined to add that people have had decades to learn what to expect from Radio Shack, and they don’t want what Radio Shack is selling. The company has fallen far from its heyday as one of the innovators in the personal computer revolution of the 1980s. Instead, its brand name has become a byword for overpriced electronic gear, including many kitschy toys, that you can find cheaper versions of elsewhere. But people don’t want that stuff anymore. They want smartphones, tablets, and ereaders, and those all have better places to buy them.
Even the very name “Radio Shack” is a token of its obsolesence, referring to the structure on the deck of an old-time ship that held the vessel’s Marconi transmitter and receiver. But nearly everything Radio Shack used to carry has been replaced by the phone in your pocket. (It may also not have helped matters that, for a while, Radio Shack carried locker banks from Amazon, its biggest online tech sales competitor, right in some of its own stores!)
A couple of years ago, I expected Amazon might buy out the Radio Shack stores and open up local brick-and-mortar outlets in them. But Amazon is being considerably more cautious about its real-world outlet plans, which is probably for the best given how risky the real-world retail front has become. The Bloomberg article notes that Best Buy is also feeling the retail sales pinch. And Amazon seems to have done remarkably well for itself sticking to selling products online—including ebooks, which don’t really need a physical store presence.
Meanwhile, fellow defunct Radio Shack competitor Circuit City doesn’t seem to have gotten any farther with its plans to relaunch that I noticed last year. Its website still carries the same “coming soon” message now as it did then.
(Found via BoingBoing.)