Today I stepped foot into my regional RadioShack as it approached the final few hours of existence, being one of 1,784 stores to close as a result of the bankruptcy. Growing up, RadioShack was the only tech outlet in my hometown. Many fond memories were made as I’d bike to the store repeatedly to play on their showcase computers or explore any number of other technical toys and gadgets in the 1990s. I recall spending hours playing one of the preloaded games their machines to claim the high score, the name of which escapes me now [it was similar to Snake but you simply kept growing and didn’t need to collect any items].
One of my earliest computers was a (Radioshack) Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer 2, which contributed significantly to my initial programming developments. I had the Logo Programming Language cartridge and with it was able to create many goofy designs by programming the on-screen turtle to move in specific patterns. The included BASIC manuals proved to be an endless source of inspiration and knowledge in my youngest days of application development. My first MIDI-capable electronic keyboard also came from RadioShack and remains in active use today. In fact, I accumulated quite a number of RadioShack merchandise over the course of two decades including scanners and radios, RC cars, joysticks and peripherals, handheld games and many miscellaneous items.
Alas, the world evolved and RadioShack ultimately found it impossible to stand out in a sea of retail shops and online alternatives offering the same like-minded products. I watched as RadioShack morphed from a technical epicenter of awesome gadgets to a run-of-the-mill cellphone reseller with generally overpriced cables and accessories. All of the specialized electronic parts that used to line the walls were condensed down to a single filing cabinet, with only a lingering RC car or two ever on display to remind us of days gone by. With cellphone carriers on every block and large retailers like Walmart and Best Buy offering much of the same for cheaper, not to mention Amazon, I had little interest returning to RadioShack these past several years. I often wonder if RadioShack could have succeeded by specializing in more niche and exclusive product lines, such as Internet of Thing Gadgets and other consumer novelties seen at trade-shows each year. Too late now.
I walked away from RadioShack’s final day $40 poorer, but with a mountain of cables and accessories that I may not ever have a need for. All of their remaining inventory was marked down 90-95% from the normal asking price so I grabbed up several heaping armfuls of what little inventory remained. Cables that were normally $11.99 were now $0.60. 6′ component cables went for $1.00 each. Almost everything I bought was $2 or less. That is impossible to beat no matter where you buy it from! According to the excessively long receipt I saved $506.75 based on the normal RadioShack prices, however high they may have been. I guess as a consumer that is one morbidly positive aspect of stores going bankrupt; you can get great deals if you hold out until the very last day. (The associate told me he was actually relieved it was finally closing after such a long time of being without profit and tethering on bankruptcy.)