Originally Posted by Kibitzer
Radio Shack occupies a certain niche in the community, though it's not a metro area leader in some of the more current product areas like smart phones. A week ago I needed a cable A/B switch, which you're not likely to find at most WalMarts, Targets or even Best Buys. They're very useful for those electronic odds and ends like cables and connectors. Unless you want to wait for your eBay or Amazon order, that's really convenient. Losing a Radio Shack in a place like Spencer, Iowa means a 35-mile drive to Mankato, Minnesota or Sioux Falls, South Dakota for electronic miscellany.
You make a very good point, and probably the SOLE reason they still exist. Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Office Depot or OfficeMax, etc, just don't stock the odds and ends electronic stuff you may need, but, increasingly, you can find most everything at Home Depot or Lowe's these days, so Radio Shack may not be able to make it selling low margin items.
You may recall (actually, I'm old enough to recall) when Radio Shack was the only way to get a catalog that had radio and hifi components and kits (similar to Heathkit, etc), so you could get things that the Sears catalog didn't carry, and no one else in town cared to stock. Most TV shops of the day were only interested in selling you TV's or console HiFi setups.
Anyhow, I remember just recently that Radio Shack was the LAST retailer that I have ever known to finally switch to electronic cash registers - yes, they did all their sales on PAPER multi-copy receipts, which took sooooo long to do, even for a 99 cent transaction. I realized then that they were at least a decade or more behind the curve, and they never had the vision to convert themselves into a Best Buy or Circuit City (which is bust now).
The future hands-down leader in the field is Fry's, and they will make Best Buy look ridiculous. They have EVERYTHING you can imagine - a true super-store (but in a good way), from computer hardware and software, phones, audio, car audio, music, appliances, office furniture, as well as the components you need to repair almost any type of electronic device. I never shop at Best Buy, unless I have a special need, because Fry's always has what I need, at better prices (no, I don't work for Fry's - they started in Silicon valley, and they are now in several major cities in the West, and I'm sure they plan on expanding - check out the store in Vegas sometime.)
Anyhow, Radio Shack even toyed with changing their "image" by changing their name to The Shack - good luck with that. Hope they survive, but doubt it once Fry's gets to town across the US.