February 10, 2015 – RadioShack Corp (formerly Tandy in the UK) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on February 5th and announced that over 1,700 of its 4,000 stores will be closed by March 31st. The remainder will be sold to General Wireless, thus shutting down the 94-year-old consumer-electronics chain which was founded in 1921.
If you are under a certain age (say, 30), you might not care and may never have stepped inside the store in years. But older customers remember RadioShack’s hey day in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s, when it sold electronics, tools for hobbyists, audio components, remote-controlled cars, games and consoles. RadioShack was an early player in the home-computing revolution (remember the TRS-80 home computer in 1977 and the Tandy 1000 in 1983?) along with Apple and Commodore.
RadioShack commercial 1978:
Its stock hit a high of $79.50 in December, 1999, but has now been delisted by the New York Stock Exchange after trading for under a dollar for more than 30 days.
RadioShack’s decline became apparent over the last decade as customers drifted away to online retailers, such as Amazon, and other big box stores. The company’s poor customer-service reputation and bad business decisions, such as its focus on an already saturated cell phone market, further weakened sales.
Just as another electronics franchise, Circuit City, had tried to rebrand itself as “The City” before going bankrupt in 2009, RadioShack previously tried to rebrand itself as “The Shack.” It even aired an expensive Superbowl commercial in February, 2014, poking fun at itself:
But it was all too little, too late.
For Star Wars costumers and hobbyists, there will be no more quick trips to RadioShack to buy soldering irons, circuit boards, battery packs and other electronic odds and ends. Why, for only $18.50, you could easily assemble your own Jawa voice module. Instructions HERE.
Perhaps the best tongue-in-cheek Farewell Video is from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight show. Just make sure you turn the volume down if playing this at work.