Mar 6, 2014

Radio Shack

Radio Shack is going broke, closing about 1,000 stores in a drive to streamline itself back into some sort of shaky solvency. I should feel worse about this than I do, but in my view the company died about 1980.

Earlier, about the time I left the Navy, the fad among young college bucks was to build a hi-fi set with the innards showing, lined up on a shelf unit with our most intellectual-appearing paperbacks. It was supposed to impress chicks, the glowing vacuum tubes an avant garde space-age substitute for romantic candles as Sinatra crooned.

You had two basic supply choices. One was the excellent Allied Radio catalog.

Radio shack was almost as cheap and more fun because you could get your stuff right there on Main Street. Besides, the salesman (and it would be a man)  knew more about audio electronics than you did, and you usually did well to take his advice.

So I spent some money at Radio Shack, 6n6s, can capacitors, tube sockets, and pref-steel chassis. This went on for a decade or so, including a period when I kept a decrepit five-channel mobile CB on the air with over-the-counter RS parts.

Than along came those damned transistors and binary and the furshlugginer Japanese.

Radio Shack and I began an amicable severance of our relationship. It  became fractious the  first time I wandered in asking for a "common" tube I needed to put an ancient and discarded Associated Press Wirephoto telephone amplifier in order. The little creep behind the counter sighed and picked his nose and told me nobody used tubes anymore but maybe he could order it  or maybe not and could he interest me in a bubble packed transistorized solid state radio controlled Corvette instead? All the cats were doing it.

Our local RS went broke three or four years ago. There's one about 15 miles away -- a good place to sign up for overpriced cell-phone "plans," but if you happen to want a 100-ohm +/- 5 per cent resistor, you are SOL, buddy.

So my sadness is muted at seeing Mr. Tandy's dream on extended death watch.


Tandy? The hide peddler? Yes indeed. Once, I can't remember where, I was in a large store, half devoted to pre-digital Radio Shack electronics, half to piles of cowhide and leather-tooling supplies. Bliss.

Stephan's Gunslinger was right. The world has moved on.


John said...

For the moment we have two stores in Counciltucky. Venturing into either one is becoming increasingly rare as they stock fewer and fewer things that interest me.

The staff used to be knowledgeable and it's rare that someone will greet me and offer to help me find what I want, let alone know what it's for or how it's used.

Rob said...

I went to Radio Shack a couple of weeks ago, they had a prepaid cell phone on sale, I wanted to upgrade when my month ran out.

They would not sell me the phone unless I swapped to the new one then. They would not just transfer my service to the new phone either, I had to sign up for the more expensive plan .... I left, too much greed vibe there for me.
I can order the phone from the company, a couple of bucks more but a lot less bs.

I guess the next time I need a diode or a capacitor I'll just have to drive farther for a RS store.

Stretch said...

Forget finding the parts you want.
I'd just be glad to find a RS who speaks English well enough to understand my questions.