If you’re under 40, when someone utters “Radio Shack” your head likely fills with images of third-rate cell phone deals, Sharper Image rejects, and overpriced electronics. If you’re over 40, though, you just might remember the ‘Shack as a local source for electronics components, cheap batteries, and home computers (when the latter was still a rarity). It looks like a few folks in the ‘Shack management team remember that, too, and put this video out to find out what it would take to get back in the good graces of those who remember — and into the buying thoughts of those who don’t.
Or maybe the whole thing’s just a stunt to get some views on their YouTube page. Either way, that’s fine with us. A hit on RS’s YouTube channel isn’t going to draw me to the store.
The video asks for your recommendations in YouTube comments, and looking through them I see some great ideas already. A few of my faves:
Hire or Train Employees: I can definitely remember the switch from knowledgeable employees to overly-intrusive-per-the-policy but not-very-damn-savvy employees at RS. It’s the same sort of problem that Home Depot has dealt with over the years, but ‘Depot had an ace up their sleeve: Their prices were low and they carried a lot of good stuff. Not so with RS, whose prices are often stupidly outrageous.
Sell Parts I Can’t Get Elsewhere: That was the real draw to RS back in the day — they carried stuff you just couldn’t get anywhere else but in catalogs. With damn near anything available at a click on the ‘net, “being able to order it” is the same as not carrying it. I can order it myself. If, however, I could saunter down to my local store and buy, say, arcade game controls, Arduino start kits, or other fun stuff, I’d probably find my way down once in a while.
STOP TRYING TO BE BEST BUY: Seriously, this is great advice. You’re a sh**ty Best Buy, RS. And now that Best Buy is often closer to folks, serving as a lousy copy of them is just dumb. Move on and do something different.
Sell Cheap Cables: HDMI cables are not worth $60. Ever. Everyone with brains orders them online from places like Monoprice. Make the same deal, add a buck to the price, and stock ’em in your stores. I’d buy all my cables from you and gladly pay the extra $1 to get it NOW instead of waiting for shipping.
Embrace The Community: Know why it’s called RADIO Shack? Because back in the day they embraced the amateur radio crowd — a group that was into electronics big time. With ubiquitous cell phones, smart phones, and tablets, the radio crowd is a lot smaller. Now it’s the maker/hacker crowd. Yes, they can get a little overbearing sometimes by calling anything they do in life a “hack.” And lots of folks are trying to capitalize on the craze. But if you want to develop a loyal audience, RS, you need to embrace these folks. Try, as one commenter suggested, sponsoring a little open-to-the-public shop every now and then. And carry kits to allow people who get infected to give building something a go.
In short, RS, take a clue from Home Depot and others who’ve already suffered through the kind of ugliness you have — though maybe not as completely as you have. Above all, remember that while asking for suggestions from the public might temporarily help improve your PR, ignoring them will freakin’ decimate it.