Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Thanks to all of you who read and responded to my May 24th blog, “The Shack is Back.” Your comments and feedback are always welcome, and I am sure all of them are certainly of interest to Radio Shack and Heathkit.
Most of your comments were about the Radio Shack stores. Here are some excerpts, and what I have to say in response:
I don't think they're [RS] going to make it long term.
All but one of the stores are now closed in my area, Charleston, SC.
I looked online and although they did still have some online sales, they had very little for sale.
This won't work against Amazon, eBay, etc which did have what I wanted to buy.
Jorge Gustavson says…
My local RS/Sprint store carries Maker kits but they are horribly marked up, way too expensive to compete with very competent online competitors.
The worst part? They close during the lunch hour! That's exactly when I want to go there! I asked the 2 guys and they said it had something to do with overtime hours and labor rules.
I can't believe that a hedge fund company was able to clearly see the business/market for Radioshack that the original Corporate Management could not - that's outstanding to me. The direction you described is clearly the direction I thought the company should take, based upon their history.
As far as RS brick and mortar?
Do like you did in the olden days 1) start in the major metro areas. 2) Cater to the maker/kickstarter folks 3) start with higher margin stuff - - the old store managers said they wanted to get away from resistors, caps, and other parts for years, but the company recognized that with a 250% markup, the "have it nows" provided them with a steady income on the big margin side. In the cellphone and tablet world, markups are low and competition is intense.
Also, if brick and mortar is really dead - - why is there still an Apple store?
There's a RadioShack left in Saginaw, Michigan! Stop by and check it out!
As you can see, there is still criticism of RS. I, too, have observed current day stores, and most are not as we would like. Many still focus on Sprint sales and high-end items where the money is. It is a local thing, and I am amazed at the difference in stores from different locales—they’re all over the place. But it is still early in the new gameplan. Let’s give RS time to get their act together and implement their DIY strategy. Stores will still probably charge more for products, as you are buying convenience and instant availability. And let’s hope for an expanded and better online presence. Also, we are all looking for RS to do more kits. Despite the criticism, I suspect most of us want RS to morph into its future model and succeed.
As for Heathkit:
In any event the market may indeed be ready for another Heathkit style company but I think the old one is moribund and stifled by the low aspirations of the current owner of the Heathkit assets.
As a ham and a builder, I would love to see Heathkit get back to doing what they used to do. Even redoing some of their famous kits would be nice. If Radio shack could come up with some kits, whatever they may be, that would be quite nice too!
Looks like we will go on waiting. Heathkit is still a stealth operation, and after several years of high expectations from what appears to be a patient and waiting customer base, it is a miracle that anyone still cares. None of us are expecting a 70-in. 4k UHD TV kit, but some cheap and innovative ham kits would be nice. I think trying to duplicate older classic kits is a big mistake, as the market is way too limited. The future is with the younger maker DIY folks.
Looking for parts? Go to SourceESB.