DIY

The Shack Is Headed To Maker Faire

Five years ago, Make Magazine, a favorite read for DIY-type folks, created its Maker Faire event. Since then, there have been a number of Maker Faires in various cities around the globe, from San Mateo, California to Vancouver, British Columbia. This year, RadioShack has a team of folks from our corporate office heading out to San Mateo, to get a taste for Maker Faire and check out all the awesome projects that are using parts from RadioShack stores.

 

 

Amy Shineman is a Brand Marketing Manager at RadioShack. She’s been at RadioShack for 6 years, and is currently focused on the DIY consumer creating things with RadioShack’s technical parts and pieces. Amy began at RadioShack as a Product Manager, working to bring RadioShack-branded products to stores. She’s still amazed at the rigor that our internal quality control team has put in place for our products.

 

Amy is looking forward to meeting with some of our new partners, including Instructables, PopSci, Popular Mechanics, Make, and Wired, and is really excited to see the great creations that will be showcased at Maker Faire. She’s also excited about getting in touch with RadioShack consumers who will be attending the show, to see how RadioShack can serve them better.

 

 

Lauren Kushnerik has been working at RadioShack for almost four years, initially as a merchant, but is now on our Marketing team. Not only is she excited about seeing and hearing the sights and sounds at Maker Faire, but she’s also a self-proclaimed nerd. Keep a lookout for her at Maker Faire, and when you find her, be sure to tell her what you like about circuit boards.

 

 

John Ditto is the Buyer for Technical Categories at RadioShack. He’s been with the company for over three years, and his main focus now is to re-invigorate the culture that RadioShack has been known for since the beginning. This is John’s first trip to Maker Faire, and he’s excited for the opportunity to get a first-hand experience of what DIY is all about.

 

 

Dwayne Campbell has worked at RadioShack for 30 years, with a background in manufacturing, engineering, and quality control. He is now our Senior Director of Regulatory and Product Development. Dwayne loves tinkering, and has built his own super telescope, as well as a battery-powered car for his daughter to cruise the yard in.

 

The whole team will be walking the grounds throughout Maker Faire, and they want to talk to you. If you spot them, feel free to grab their attention and show off your cool project, or give them feedback on how we can make RadioShack an even better destination for your fun projects.

 

 

 

 

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75 Comments

  • Efineout

    Kudos for going root style

  • Burt

    I am happy to hear that Radio Shack is getting back to their roots.

    Am I DIY? Well I have designed, built, and fly my own gyrocopter. I have built two aircraft previously. My background is crypto communications Navy/NSA, robotic data silos, and cached disk array data storage for large data centers like MasterCard.

    Picture this: a Top Gun fighter pilot helmet painted yellow with a tall mohawk on top (like the ones on the cycle riders helmets) and a pointy bill out front (knda like woody woodpecker’s), flying a yellow gyro copter. It’s Big Bird.

    Do you have any suggestions where an electronics wizard and forward thinker can get a job these days?

    Thanks, Burt

  • Mark

    Very glad to hear that Radio Shack is getting back on board the DYI bus! Radio Shack may think they never left the bus but unfortunately I only go to the Shack when I need to finish a project and ran out of or forgot to get a routine part. I know the Shack has one or two PIC based microcontroller starter kits… maybe they should consider stocking the Arduino starter kits as well. I might suggest that the larger cities with active DYI or hacker spaces might be able to support at least one Radio Shack ‘superstore’ that caters to these customers by offering locally-developed kits. For example, when building my 5x5x5 LED cube I ordered 200 LEDs from China via an Ebay store and then had to wait 3 weeks for shipment. I gladly would have paid double if the same products were available for immediate purchase. Such things would not be in the catalog but could be packaged as a local kit sold to local customers. Just a thought.

  • FloydTurbo

    Radio Shack getting back to their roots..Only about 10-15 years overdue…This is the BEST news I have heard in a long time..

  • Chuckwgn

    Dwane looks like the only one with the experience to be able to relate to the oler people like me.

  • Sean

    My local Radio Shack has many electronic parts which is great for me. I can build an electronic device using any kind of part with the exception of inductors. These are a highly necessary component for hobbyists in many types of circuits. It does not make sense to carry almost any imaginable part except for one. Stores that have resistors, capacitors, diodes, flux, wire wrap, project boards, solder kits, switches, LEDs, … should have inductors. I order parts online from other companies only if I can’t find them locally first.

  • Frank N. Stein

    That’s Great! Now that the faire is over what happened?? Anything exciting, photos to post, etc… ?? I’d like to hear more about this. personally I’m not really a cycling fan and the last four days have all been about that. I’d like to hear more about the technology.

  • Dandy

    Hi guys,

    I visited a lot in Radioshack and bought different stuff from multitester, mic, resistors, ic, scanners and more. Radioshack discontinued a lot of amateur radio projects like simplex voice repeater, rf kits, vhf transceiver and more. I would be happy to see these more stuff around. Internet and ipods can’t replace the real nuts and bolts electronics hobby.

    Dandy, K6ZRH
    San Bernardino, CA

  • ttinouye

    I hope you add a mail order catalog as extensive as the o\ld Allied Radio catalogs of the mid-1960′s vefore fadio Shack had bought them out. They also had a fairly extensive line of kits. I hope you add kits like the HeathKits of yore.

  • N6RLS

    Glad to see Radio Shack "gettin’ back to the land" in the DIY department. A trip to Maker Faire is an excellent idea to get more (re)aquainted with the DIYers and their needs. Glad to see that one of your team members has a long history w/Radio Shack… no doubt he remembers how much more supportive Radio Shack was for those who like to tinker & build their own gear.

    I still have & use a VOM (from a kit) I got at Radio Shack in the mid-’70′s… works just fine today. I wish Radio Shack offered more kits for useful products (not just toys and/or educational-type kits) – maybe even promote the idea of being resourseful and learning-by-doing.

    In the ham community there’s a little disdain for "appliance users" (refering to the pre-built equipment most newer hams use) but then again there has been little option for building things, with Heathkit long gone and Radio Shack dropping meaningful support for hobbyists and electronics enthusiasts… until now? I remain hopeful that you will really get back to your roots (you can still sell phones on the side) and become [b][i]RADIO[/i][/b] shack again!

  • clint

    As a former Radio Shack employee back in the late 80′s, there is a special place in my heart for Radio Shack. Before that, at 11 years old, I learned to program in BASIC by bicycling 5 miles on many days to my local Radio Shack and programming on their display TRS-80 Model II.

    I was sad to see the parts stocks dwindle over the years since, and am delighted to see Radio Shack returning to its roots in the DIY community. Kudos for bringing Forrest M. Mims III’s books back too!

    My advice for the future:

    1) Get familiar with, and stock Arduino and a few useful arduino shields.
    2) Stock some good kits – not lame kits that do nothing, but kits that really *do* things, or kits that are building blocks for bigger things – take a look at Jeri Ellsworth and Chris Gammel’s 555 contest winners, for example:

    http://www.555contest.com/2011/04/the-555-contest-winners-announcement/

    You could contact some of those entrants and see if they want to do kits.

    Maybe contact the designer of the Le-Dominoux entry for example, and see about getting some kits made – after all, with his design, the more units you have, the merrier!

    http://relwin.hackhut.com/2011/03/01/555-timer-contest-entry

    He even gives a shout out to Radio Shack! And none other than Forrest M. Mims III was one of the 555 contest judges!

    3) Realize that, in the age of the internet and mail-order, that Radio Shack’s biggest value to the DIY person is instant gratification, ie: being able to head down to the local Radio Shack, and find a part, tool, or consumable, at 8:30pm when everything else is closed and one wants to finish the project NOW. Leverage this.

    4) Get your sales clerks more interested in DIY stuff and technical details. Allot some time and materials for them, and encourage them to build their own kits or their own micro-controller projects in-house, and then they can show them off to interested customers. There is a certain joy that comes from building a kit that works, or seeing an idea come to fruition. That joy is pure, honest, and infectious. When you sell kits, you will also sell the tools and consumables needed to build the kits.

    (Oh, and thanks for continuing to supply high-quality solder throughout the years. All of the solder rolls on my bench are Radio Shack product, and I’m happy with them)

    5) Partner up with, and support some of the startups out there who are selling neat and useful kits. EvilMadScience.com, for example, has GREAT kits, with excellent instructions. Theirs should be the model for kit documentation everywhere.

    6) Keep doing a lot of what you already are doing in the tools and supplies area. Those xx-in-1 electronics kits are still a great way to get kids going, and is what got me started when I was 8 years old.

    Best of luck, and it was great to meet some of you at MakerFaire. Thanks for the gift-card too!

  • DainBramage1991

    Good luck going back to your roots, here are my suggestions:
    1: A much, much wider selection of transistors, ICs, capacitors, resistors, project enclosures, transformers, and every other related component that the DIY hobbyist could need. Your selection bins work fine, make your packaging smaller to fit the bins and you could double the amount of stock without using any more floor space.
    2: More test equipment, and I’m not just talking about basic DMMs. Is there any valid reason that a consumer shouldn’t be able to buy an oscilloscope at Radio Shack? Along the same line, more (and better) soldering equipment and supplies, along with other technician bench necessities.
    3: Finally, bring back support for amateur radio. Many hams are also DIYers and would appreciate being able to buy some supplies locally for a change. Along the same lines, the 50 ohm coaxial cable you sell is so leaky that it is practically worthless at any frequency or power level. Please replace it with a high quality 100% shielded cable – We’d pay more for the good stuff, we really would.

  • Mike

    When I was young and I started to get into electronics Radio Shack was my source for everything, the books by Forrest m. Mims and all the components for every thing I was trying to build. I hope I will find more of the components I am looking for at radio shack in the future. I think they should start carrying the Arduino, maybe some servos, stepper motors, small speakers, it would be cool if they would just buy some stuff from Sparkfun.com and Adafruit.com

  • Royce

    Best of luck with your return to your DIY roots. I’d recommend the Arduino ecosystem of products as well as common types of sensors: opto-interrupters, Sharp IR range finders, MaxBotix Sonar and 5V relays.

    But if you learned anything at MakerFaire, I hope it was that the most valuable product of all is the people in the DIY scene. Arduino is great, but if you don’t know how to use it, it might be just another gizmo to you. People give the helping hand that gets new Arduino users over the initial barrier to entry, make them productive and make them come back for more. I’m not sure how you get that kind of helping hand into a strip mall store. Perhaps you connect with or even foster a local makerspace.

    Regards,
    Royce

  • Gregg

    Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos! Arduinos!

  • slooker

    Would definitely love to see some Arduino / Ardoweenie type boards and the shields to support them!

    glad to see you guys are getting back to DIY!

  • Eric

    Take a stroll through any Fry’s store in the Bay Area. Frys is what Radio Shack could have been. They carry a huge array of components, parts, appliances and accessories. I haven’t bought anything at a Radio Shack in over 7 years since moving to California, because Frys has it all. The last time I was in a Shack they were mostly hocking cell phones and cheap motorized toys. It was more like Spencer gifts than a place anyone would go to buy serious electronics.

    My advice: Keep the mall stores for the common stuff, but open larger "Super Shacks" that could compete with Frys. Start in areas with large geek populations: San Francisco Area, Boston, Seattle, Dallas, LA, etc. Bring back the spirit of the electronics tinkerers with publications like you used to have by Forest Mims, etc.

  • Carson

    Disclaimer: I worked at RadioShack as a seasonal employee about four years ago)

    Understand that the DIY market is still out there, but that you can also play a role in the process.

    Start carrying more kits and, more important, more literature on what exactly you can use the stuff inside your stores to do. Some people come in knowing exactly what they want, but most are just browsing. My generally impression when I walk into a RadioShack is "Wow, that looks neat. I have no idea what to do with it, but that sure looks cool". Then I leave.

    Appeal to that kid side of people that wants to make something cool…make it easier for them to do just that. Don’t just package a bunch of dynamo wind generators in a planogram and call it a "revamp"…dedicate yourselves to something more than just saying this and really start pushing it in the right direction.

    Train staff or get new people who know how to do something besides sell cellphones. Salesmen are great for that purpose, but if someone is looking for information relating to the project kit they just bought at your store and all they get are "I don’t know" or "Read the manual", they’re going to come away extremely disgruntled. Something more than video training — get store managers to attend DIY conventions, then have them trickle down that information to their associates.

    Also, the only thing cooler than simply having the ability to buy a box and take it home and make something cool…is to mess around in the store. You’re basically given a big, happy toolbox to play with — why not engage the customer with it? Set up example tables in the stores, where they can actually work with and mess around with the things you’re selling. The best way to draw a crowd in and say, "Hey, look! We’re not just that dustbin store anymore!" is to have real-world demonstrations and models right where everyone can see them, touch them, and interact. Have the sales associate become a teacher, a demonstrator of what exactly you guys sell and why you sell them.

    Stock literature. Real good literature. MAKE magazine instantly comes to mind, but there are others. Heck, even brand your own monthly DIY mag, using OTC RadioShack parts for all the projects.

    Keep in mind the average consumer. He or she may be interested in what it is you’re selling, but has no real direct experience with it. This is where extremely approachable merchandise and scary-good staff training intersect. Back off from the heavy sales pitches of the past and just let them engage the merchandise. Make the kits something you can actually use, as well — and bring back a condensed version of the catalogue that covers stuff they can order to "ramp up" their projects (like making a solar collector for their house, or a "tricked up" Christmas set, stuff that is instantly applicable to Average Joe Somebody who has a creative side that he’s just dying to get out).

    To summarize: Projects, big box projects, well-trained staff, in-house demonstrations of said projects, and the ability to be extended. Create your market before you pursue it.

  • holla2040

    Read on if you’re serious about adding DIY to Radio Shack

    I’ve been tinkering with electronics for 40 years (have a PhD EE). My average monthly electronics budget is around $500/month. This week I’m prototyping 3 designs and spent about $1000, $600 to digikey. I’ve got all my work related designs, I teaching a robotic course this summer, and my hobby stuff around the house. None of that money is spent at Radio Shack. Here’s some reasons why I don’t consider my local Radio Shack for parts.

    1. You need bins of parts. Packaging 2 resistors with card board at 99 cents is not attractive from a waste perspective and cost. 1 transistor, 2 caps. RS should rethink their entire electronics packaging.

    2. RS sales people are driven to sell phones and batteries. There’s no experience with the thrill of making something, no curiosity, no interest, nothing. Mostly I hear, "Electronic parts, those over in the corner. Hope you know what you need because I know nothing about anything." I understand you can’t find employees with electronics experience, but all I’ve seen they go out of their way to tell about their inexperience. Being a parts supplier for DIY is relationship that’s built. My impression is that RS relegates parts to the back corner, the selection gets smaller and smaller.

    So when I need a part I have three options.
    a. try to find in my piles of junk, very difficult
    b. determine if RS has it by phone call or web search. Both hopeless, the RS employee rarely knows what I’m talking about. The website searches intermix parts with all the other stuff, so I have to page and page and page to find the right thing, then i have to call for stock.
    c. order it at digikey, mouser, adafruit, sparkfun, etc, pay shipping and wait.

    To be honest, I’d rather pay overnight shipping than deal with option b. Now if items 1 and 2 above have changed in the past couple years then I’m wrong and should check out RS again.

    Other companies are innovative in attracting my business. Here’s the best three ideas I’ve seen.
    a. adafruit’s "ask an engineer" segment
    b. sparkfun’s new product friday video
    c. element14′s Jeri Ellisworth – everything from her is fantastic

    I look forward to all these weekly installments. These companies understand my mentally, know what’s cool and find new tech things as interesting as I do. Adding DIY to RS isn’t merely sponsoring a Maker Faire and putting Sparkfun retail boxes on hook in your store, to me this is a me-too babystep. Your challenge to attracting me back in the store is showing me that you ‘get it’ about making things. Having new parts, new products with local availibility isn’t enough.

    RS needs to reach out locally, sponsor events, offer hands-on seminars, robotics classes, mini-maker nights, etc and show that RS is here, we understand your interests and we want to become your local partner for parts and supplies. RS is the only nationwide company capable of driving local maker activities back into the community. From my experience, this is the way to DIY back into RS.

    Does RS have the technical local expertise to do this, probably not. But that doesn’t matter, every town has the expertise, you just need to find them and partner with them to create these events. Think about this,

    Put an ad in the paper or Craigslist looking for someone interested in teaching an "Introduction to Arduino" evening.
    Vet the responses and select the instructor, offer RS store credit as compensation.
    Put "Introduction to Arduino" evening ad in local paper, Craigslist and high school science/math/computer teachers
    Sell "Introduction to Arduino" Radio Shack Kit, $30 for Uno, resistors, LED, switches, light sensor, etc
    They bring laptop, you sell the kit, the instructor teaches the class, the local RS rep takes 5 minutes to explain your offerings to take the next step.

    RS’s commitment: Local RS employee places 2 ads, finds meeting place, sells kits and does a 5 min sales call during the evening. Corporate does instructor vetting and selection. Local RS places follow up calls to build the parts vendor relationship.

    If Radio Shack drives their local communities, then I’ll drive to Radio Shack to buy parts.

    I’ve used this soap box enough. Thanks for your time, please contact me to discuss anything DIY. I’ve watched the slow RS demise over 40 years and its a shame. Good luck

  • Harry

    I would like you to have all or most of the parts that is mentioned http://arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/HomePage . That would simplify for my students to find parts after the lessons. Many of my students buys arduinos after they been used at school, because they find it that fun and interesting that they want to learn more on their own.

  • poptones

    Bring back forrest mims kits and xxx in 1 electronic kits. You’ll fail all over again if you don’t bring kids to science.

    Bring in new blood in the spirit of mims and ciarcia.

    My two big ideas to count as "product 3."

    On site electronic cnc machine for hire. 6 axis, capable of making, say, something 12x24x8.
    Fine pitch reflow Soldering assembly. Offer all the stuff we’d need to make and populate the pc boards, we can bring it to the store to get it baked. Hot plate assembly is just too tricky and dangerous for kids, plus it’s no fun.

    Stop thinking in terms of just goodies (which we can get from digikey, but local is nice at a reasonable price) and use those locations to offer SERVICES to DIYer’s we can’t get alsewhere unless we live in silicon valley or NYC.

  • diegoboten

    Arduino. Radioshack *has* to carry Arduinos, as well as the ATMEGA chipsets. It’s the swiss army knife of everything these days that matters.

    PCB etchant. I realize chemicals are problematic as inventory, but you guys can’t be who you are without this. Everybody needs to make circuits!

    STEPPER MOTORS. Real ones. Nema 17s and 23s and the like. And Stepper Motor Drivers like the Pololu or EasyDriver. So many people out there need these to make decent robots and 3D printers.

  • Dan

    A company that has been in the forefront of all DIY electronics is Sparkfun. The parts they provide is the best example of what you need to make Radio Shack a competitor in this market. From watching the YouTube video, bringing in only three different products is going to make it hard to make a satisfying and develop new projects unless they are kits. While having the parts is great you also need people in the store that understand what they are and how they integrate with other parts on a basic level.

  • Richard

    Last time I went to Radio Shack looking for parts, the audio connector section was quite out dated. There were no speakon connectors, which is what I needed for my project. Everything else looked like it had been in inventory 10-15 years.

  • Benjamin McKenna

    1. Better soldering equipment. Your irons are not very high quality, people need soldering stations, and a better range of wattages would be helpful. Tips!

    2. Kits! People like kits, especially ones that are useful. Having a big range from simple to hard is what makes many of your mail order competitors trample you. The kits should either make cool things or teach somone how to manipulate a specific key component (like an LED screen)

    3. Bring back the old tiny electronic theory manuals. You used to sell a range of them back in the day for 25 cents. I’m too young to remember that, but I have seen my dad’s copies. He still has them! They’re that precious to him! If you re-release at a good price point for today’s market you can capture more DIYers. And then make new ones covering newer topics since those only cover basic concepts.

  • kernelpanic

    More of a paradigm-shift recommendation than a product recommendation:
    1. Consolidate into fewer but much larger stores. It would allow for a better selection of components. It also would be more cost effective for Radio Shack. I’m not saying ‘close all the small stores.’ I’m saying a larger city like Chicago or Denver could easily support a DIYers Superstore. Just put one in and close the 4 existing stores nearest (as they would serve the same area anyway).
    2. In this new wonderful larger store, hire at least one person as a project ‘guru’ to help hobbyists with their needs. It’ll help bring people in and also reduce the amount of components returned because the customer bought the wrong part. You could put a small gathering area in the corner with chairs, tables, etc. and host workshops or HAM swap meets. Heck, go one further and put a Fab Lab in and charge hourly… What I’m basically saying is that Radio Shack used to be the place people went for ANSWERS. Bring that back, Please! If you want to court the DIY community you have to nurture it locally as well as nationally. (Also- keep your ‘sales kids’ away from the DIYers. They are annoying. Hide them in the cell phone corner and chain them there if necessary.)
    3. Get back into education! Sponsor local high school robotics labs or competitions. Hold your own student competitions and reward the winners with scholarships. Get involved and stay involved.

    I say this as a professional software engineer and amateur extra class HAM Operator and longtime hobbyist. I might not be any of those things if it weren’t for the radio shack of my childhood enticing me into a wonderful and magical world of experimentation and creativity. A large portion of my discretionary income goes to my electronics projects. I’ve built Class IV lasers, guitar effect pedals, radios, Theremins, robots, amplifiers and a host of other things. Every year my projects contain fewer and fewer parts from RS. And that’s a shame. I miss the Radio Shack of my childhood and I am not alone. I really would like to see a comeback. Good Luck!

  • zing

    My three things?

    More power and darlington transistors(Lots of signal transistors, but only 1 NPN TO3 and not many to220)

    Matched transistors(why a tip120 or tip31 but not 125/32? etc)

    Fets(You only have IRF510. On the plus side, you only charge 100% more than online)

    Other than that, just copy sparkfun’s inventory and stick a 50% markup on top. I’ll gripe about the extra cost, but the ability to buy something now without building up an order worth the shipping costs will get me in the store.

  • somedude

    i hope you’re also reading comments from all the other websites that are talking about this too like hackaday, slashdot, your youtube etc …

    first the bad: your staff is clueless. when they say "can i help you?" i think to myself, ‘probably not’. educate them on electronics or hire people who at least know what a resistor is. stop having them try to shove a cell phone down your throat.
    speaking of cell phones: do you really need a 30 square foot display with plastic broken dummy cell phones. all of that can be condenced into a computer kiosk.
    just get rid of all the crap, crappy toys crappy electronics junk that walmart and best buy sell
    i know it’s a novel idea but you could lower your prices on electronic components. do you think the reason why people rarely buy parts there is because it’s rare that someone wants the part or rare that someone wants to spend 30x more than what they would pay for somewhere else online.

    what to do: bringing in 3 new products isn’t going to turn diy-ers back onto radioshack but it’s a start.
    1. everybody wants arduinos and arduino shields. anything microcontroller based really (i know there’s basic stamp but $99 is a bit pricey)
    2 a wider variety of low cost components, it doesn’t have to be as low cost as online companies but it does need to be much lower than it is now
    3 kits, lots of kits …educational kits, useful kits, not $13 christmas tree kits
    more books on electronics too

    pander to specific hobbyist/hacker genres : radio, robotics, musician(many synth and guitarists like to build their own elecrical effects/modules), art/design/crafts, computer, video game (not the games but controllers/ game design systems), rc cars/planes/copters (the diy kind not the walmart kind)

    what would be amazing and win over the diy-ers although would take a lot of work: make the store like a walk-in hackerspace with knowledgeable staff there to help you. make it a place you could go to get a pcb printed or something lasercut or 3d printed. maybe even a small workshop/learning area. hold events, contests, be involved with the community. have workshops and classes for local schools, boy scouts/girl scouts, anyone

  • null

    It’s good to hear that Radio shack is trying to become more DIY friendly again.

    The stuff the Radio Shack currently stocks is actually pretty useful.
    The problem is that many radio shacks -don’t- stock this stuff.
    This kind of makes the consumer wary of it disappearing from all stores all together.

    I think that carrying specific parts for projects would be hard for radio shack.. they should instead carry generic stuff that all projects need: Things we have to buy online when we shouldn’t have to.

    Kester solder.
    SMD friendly soldering iron. (Your current irons kinda suck)
    Quality hook up wire.
    More protoboard PCB’s.

    I work on audio DIY stuff, so it’s hard for me not to recommend stuff related to that… But I’ve resisted.
    Perhaps you could supply kits for certain diy projects.
    CMOY would be a good one. http://tangentsoft.net/audio/cmoy-tutorial/
    An Arduino kit would be another good one.

  • null

    Actually.. Take a look at sparkfun.
    Anything they carry, you could carry too.

    Making a sparkfun that I can drive to would be pretty amazing.

  • Austin Marangoni

    ARDUINO! ARDUINO! ARDUINO! Arduinos, Arduino clones, Arduino sheilds etc. And better quality tools especially the shack’s current fire starter soldering irons.

  • Brendan

    All these apply to the store near me (in Dedham MA) and have for a long time. Here’s my 3 things I want you to bring in.

    1. Employees who don’t spend all their time on their own phones or in the back room.
    2. Employees with even a passing interest in DIY.
    3. Half-decent tools. The cheap stuff is great for some things, but in general cheap tools = frustrated hobbyists.

  • Markarian

    Amy,

    I think your video is really creating a buzz. As a technology enthusiast, who grew up with Radio Shack, I always considered it a trusted and convenient source of project parts and electronic components. While I realize the nature of electronics construction has changed, I feel as if Radio Shack has lost its way. Gone are the Casio/Tandy products of old, and your components section seems more limited. When I go into Radio Shack, I’m there because I need something important, quickly and conveniently. I don’t wish to be upsold a cellphone or batteries. The sheer enormity of your mobile phone section speaks volumes as to what Radio Shack’s priorities are today.

    A few recommendations from a long-time customer, techie, and someone currently aiming for a marketing career after school:

    One, it’s not "The Shack." Your rebranding efforts have only annoyed and confused consumers, and seem like a contrived attempt at being hip. I know you’re hoping to entice the same 18-35 year olds with disposable income who shop at Best Buy, but they still call it Radio Shack. It’s like how Pizza Hut just tried to call themselves "The Hut."

    Two, DIY projects have moved toward specialty devices and niches, such as Arduino kits and open video game systems, like the Pandora. Few of these are available in stores, and many customers, especially students, might be enticed to pay a modest premium for being able to walk into an RS and find it in stock without waiting for it to be shipped from overseas.

    Three, I’ve found the atmosphere in your stores tends to make me feel uncomfortable, especially in relation to your staff. Instead of knowledgeable people who are working at Radio Shack because they are interested in technology, I get pushy salespeople, trying to get me to buy things I don’t want. I nearly ended up shouting at an associate in one of your Los Angeles stores because he refused to back down on upselling me when I just wanted the cheapest audio cable for a one-day road trip. If I want cellphones, I’ll go to my carrier’s retail outlet, where I know the selection is the biggest. If I want batteries, I’ll pick them up if I need them, Radio Shack or otherwise.

    Four: Cables are cheap. More and more consumers are realizing that an HDMI cable does NOT need to cost more than $10, and an audio extender no more than five. Fry’s gets it. Best Buy gets it. And with your store being convenient to so many, I think you could make yourselves much more competitive by selling your cables cheaper. When a printer doesn’t come with the necessary USB cable, a consumer feels slighted by having to buy it separately at a huge premium. Fry’s sells them for 99 cents at the checkout stand. While I realize your convenience of location should command a higher premium, $9 for a 6′ store-brand audio cable still feels like a ripoff.

    More components, more microcontrollers, more fun stuff. Radio Shack needs to be nerdy, because that was always its purpose. Not hip, not "mobile and connected." You guys have had a niche for decades and you’re losing that niche to e-tailers because your selection has dwindled and you haven’t stayed current with the times. Strengthen and expand your store brand. There are millions of half-decent Chinese products that could carry the Tandy/Optimus/Realistic logo, from cellphones to Netbooks. Best Buy and Walmart both have a strong stable of store brands that make a killing in the low-end market.

    Thanks for reading, and I really hope to see some fresh air come into my local Radio Shack, which I’ve admittedly avoided for several years. Good luck, guys.

  • jcarrr

    Embrace Arduino, but do it with class.

  • foo

    Today we need a higher level than just purely 74xx ICs and switches. I believe the ground floor for hobbyists should include the below, which would be unique in the retail space as well as high-profit items:

    Products:
    - Arduinos
    - FPGA starter kits
    - Mini CNC machines/kits
    - 3d printers/kits
    - servos & sensors for robotics

    Services:
    - PCB board prototyping
    - Cheap data-only tethering cellular plans, preferably pre-paid by GB used, not daily/monthly

  • Andy

    I dont think 3 singular product additions are the answer.
    Pricing and type of products are. I think it is sad that I can go to DIYer type websites and buy a 10-pack of LEDs with shipping for about the same price as a single LED from Radioshack.
    I used to work there and I was strongly encouraged to push people to buy cell phones. While I understand this is a necessary part of the business, maybe it shouldnt be the part that is concentrated on. It seems like every time I go there, there are fewer and fewer parts drawers and the prices for what is left in the drawers just keeps going up. I dont go there for phones or other gadgets, I go there for the stuff needed to make my own gadgets.

  • drum365

    I’m a 61 year old electronics hobbyist who cut his teeth on Heathkit and Radio Shack growing up. I’ve seen a lot of articles lately about how US corporations are hiring engineers from other countries because American college kids think engineering is "too hard." If you really want to get back into the DIY market, I think you should focus on making electronics interesting, exciting, and challenging. In other words: FUN!

    In other words, real kits (like N6RLS, I too still have my Allied VOM kit!), "n"-in-1 Electronics labs, and things on the order of the old Forrest Mims lab books, but updated to include things like robotics and microcontrollers. Maybe enlist someone like Gordon McComb or Lady Ada or Tom Igoe to develop some kits and instructional materials.

    I was really excited when VEX Robotics came out – wow, RS is getting back into "makers" in a big way! – and then puzzled when you sold it off. Look at the way they do things: catalogs, competitions, educational programs.

    Maybe you could challenge the Maker community to a competition for the best educational kit. In other words, have people design something they think RS should carry. Give the winner a cash prize plus royalties, and then put the item on the shelves. Make it an annual event, maybe with a different theme each year – "learn to solder," or "intro to microcontrollers," or "get into R/C." Seems like there are all sorts of possibilities.

    And hire knowledgeable people. My local RS used to have a good staff. I think I probably knew more about electronics than most of them, but at least they knew what they had in stock and where it was on the shelves. The people working there now only seem to know how to find a replacement battery and fill out a cell phone contract.

  • Kyle C

    1. the 74hcu04 hex inverter chip – they have many, many uses: digikey stocks 23,000 of these
    2. as someone else mentioned, proto boards and plastic enclosures that actually match up
    3. ceramic capacitors: these are important. you currently sell one "grab bag" of 100 caps that is mostly picofarad values, and a very limited selection of the common values, which come in ridiculously overpriced packs of two. sell packs of 10 at a reasonable price. the most important values are 22 and 47 pF, every multiple of 10 from 100 pF to .1 uF, and .022 and .047 uF.

    And most importantly, I have been to way too many stores where the parts drawers have been essentially abandoned. Stock is never checked and almost everything is gone.

  • JD

    1 A nice selection of servos and hardware. Not only inexpensive ones, some Dynamixels would be nice.
    2 Micro-controllers would be cool. Can you say Ardunio? Rhymes with seeedunio and many others.
    3 Sensors and components, "GOOD" sensors and components.

    Some other things you may want to consider:

    Someone that is going to care that I’m there even if I’m not looking to buy a cell phone.
    Supporting local DIY clubs.
    Competitive prices. ( At least the going rate )

    Oh and a decent sized bread board.

    Ya thats more then 3, deal with it.

  • Kyle C

    Oh, and one other thing. Think about this idea: in every major city there is at least one store that has a much larger part of the store space devoted to stocking components, and these stores have EVERYTHING. Stick with the cabinets and drawers thing, it works fine, but like a dozen of them instead of 2. You could have all the common ICs, get into surface mount components, less commonly used parts like inductors and weird interconnects for whatever screwball thing you’re trying to connect to. DIY cred pretty much instantly restored if you do this.

  • Derelict

    Some friends of mine and I were just chatting about the sad state of Radio Shack’s component selection (and knowledgeable salespeople) last week. I was looking for a potentiometer for a project, and the associate looked puzzled and asked "What’s an attention meter?" Ouch.

    I think it will be great if Radio Shack reaches out again to the builders, makers, and electronics hobbyists! You may need to do some staff retraining, though.

    I’d love to not have to order my parts online and then wait for a week for them to arrive!

    D

  • Ricky Cadden

    Thanks everyone for chiming in! For those wondering, we do have some more posts to share with you from our trip to Maker Faire:

    The Shack Takes In Maker Faire – http://blog.radioshack.com/post/2011/05/25/The-Shack-Takes-In-Maker-Faire.aspx
    Amy and Lauren Recap Maker Faire – http://blog.radioshack.com/post/2011/05/26/Amy-And-Lauren-Recap-Maker-Faire.aspx
    The Shack Talks Past, Present, And Future With DIY Community Pillars – http://blog.radioshack.com/post/2011/05/27/The-Shack-Talks-Past-Future-With-DIY-Community-Pillars.aspx

    You’ll see more DIY-centric posts here on the blog, so be sure to bookmark us or subscribe via RSS.

    Also, we really appreciate all of the great responses and suggestions. If I could make a request, could you please submit your product suggestions/DIY feedback to this post: http://blog.radioshack.com/post/2011/05/19/RadioShack-And-The-DIY-Community-You-Talked-Were-Listening.aspx

    We have weekly meetings setup to read through each and every comment, both to tally the votes for top product suggestions and to be sure and listen to other suggestions that you all have. Thanks so much for all the support and suggestions (and criticisms).

  • Matthew

    RS has a *long* way to go to make up lost ground with DIY-ers.

    For passives, ditch the space-consuming packaging and stock every resistor I could possibly want in drawers or bins. Ditto for LEDs and other passives. Stock a few microcontrollers (in ADDITION to the starter kits) from popular lines and of course have retail packaged Arduinos. (Right next to the introductory book and kit with all the parts you need to do all the Arduino labs in the book.) Capacitors, crystals, voltage regulators, etc are needed on just about any project. Analog is no longer driving the DIY world; digital is. You need to stock the parts that I need so that I can go home and get a basic microcontroller blinkylight app up and running. That means you need to stock programming hardware that’ll program PIC, AVR, whatever. (Big bonus to RS if they come up with a single dongle that’ll program parts from multiple uP vendors.)

    Stock breadboards and power supplies.

    If you REALLY want to win this war, make each RS store (or at least the larger ones) a mini hackerspace: have a bar table with a soldering iron or two, some solder and copper braid in each store. Allow me to buy my Arduino and shield kit from the shelf, then go over and build it right there in the store. Have a power and Ethernet/wireless jack for my laptop so that I can install software there and have my Arduino project up and running. If you embrace this concept, especially in markets that don’t have independent hackerspaces, you will be astounded at the results. Frankly, RS is probably the only industry player that has a chance of entering this market. Capture it! It’s yours for the taking! Host hacker meetings in the evenings or after hours. Get local presenters to present projects (that of course can be built with Radio Shack parts.)

    Lastly, there’s simply no way that you can stock everything the DIY’er needs for his projects in every store. Just look at the Mouser/Digikey catalogs for proof. Make it easy for me to order parts from your warehouse with free ship-to-store on the next truckload. Imagine: me and my buddies are in the store building cool stuff on Tuesday, we design the next killer widget and order parts. On Friday we all get calls/emails that our parts are in, and we convene another hackermeeting on Saturday in your store.

    Just take a survey of all the mid-sized markets in the United States that don’t have an independent hackerspace. Man, you guys could *own* that space! Across the country! And I can’t think of ANYONE ELSE who could fill that void as well as RS, if they chose to do so! You guys could come up with a corporatewide "introduction to digital electronics" series of lectures/labs that could be presented in EVERY RS store across the country on the same day.

    I’d be happy to drive to downtown Ft. Worth and talk about the idea further. Email me.

  • Matthew

    BTW, if your corporate staff wants to get a feel for how other outlets are addressing the DIY market, take a field trip to Tanner Electronics in Dallas. That’s where I go to get my parts.

  • Paul Fowler

    Radio Shack does need to get back to their roots. I stopped going since I could no longer distinguish it from Best Buy. Radio Shack’s inventory now competes with Best Buy. Surely someone at Radio Shack realizes that is not a winning strategy given the small size of Radio Shack stores.

    I need radio and electronics parts. Even if Radio Shack doesn’t want to stock up with "just parts," they should focus on products that are "gadgets" which can be modified. If I knew that Radio Shack had a bunch of interesting electronic and radio gadgets, I would constantly visit to see what was new. Maybe there is a gadget I could take apart and modify.

    Product I want to see in Radio Shack: inexpensive oscilloscope. Come on, you don’t get to call yourself "radio" anything as a store and NOT sell an oscilloscope. Seriously.

  • Bob

    This is potentially good news for all who appreciate tinkering, modding and just fixing stuff. At least in NY, RadioShack is nearly useless when it comes to finding parts to make or fix something. In Nassau County, in particular, the stores seem to exist for no other reason than to sell cell phones. The store employees tend to know very little about electronics, how things work, or even the products on the shelves. This is a stark difference from say 10 years ago when Radio Shack was a "go to" place to get supplies and, more importantly, intelligent help.

    I hope you can re-invent the company and make it more useful to people trying to "make" and repair things. In the meantime, the internet allows us to buy directly from electronics manufacturers and suppliers, and eliminate the frustration of waiting on a long line (also a problem at my local Shacks….not enough sales staff to accommodate more than one customer at a time) only to get a dumb look when you ask a question. You have a long way to go!! Good luck.

  • monopole

    I’d love to see some RP SMA, SMA and Type N connectors/cables! BNC and UHF conn. just aren’t doin it these days…

  • Sean Huberty

    I would suggest adding Arduino and other similar microcontroller platforms. Robotics, radio equipment, and rapid prototyping might also be popular. Most importantly, I suggest Radio Shack host some education sessions. I teach a two week robotics course for kids and they go wild for it. I doubt they would think of Radio Shack as a place to get involved in the electronics community. Whenever I go in there, I try to go straight to the back, but an associate is usually trying to point me to the mobile phones. I’d expect to see a lot of interest in attending educational sessions if it was advertised in the right places. Pay to play DIY shops are starting to pop up and I could see Radio Shack standardize it for a national audience…

  • Haxor

    You should carry some of the neat devices from Dangerousprototypes.com

  • tz

    Start with Arduino, and maybe the variants like from sparkfun and seeed studios.

    Carry the AVR Dragon (and jumper wires and headers!) and the other AVR chips like the ATtiny series, and a few common resonator or crystals.

    SMD to dip converters. Basic sensors, maybe on breakout boards (sparkfun or adafruit). LiPo batteries and charging boards.

  • Mark

    1. Individual 10K, 50K, 100K, 500K, 1M audio- and linear-taper Alpha-brand potentiometers; in either 24mm or 16mm, with 0.33" smooth shaft, panel mount.

    2. Many values of 2.54mm or 5mm-spaced MLCC ceramic capacitors from 10pF to 0.1uF.

    3. Switchcraft 112AX 1/4" phone sockets.

  • Charlie

    I remember Tandy stores being all over United Kingdom @ one time & now they seem to be all gone ( at least in my area). If you have gone, for goodness sake come back. We have to use Maplin’s & they have never heard of such a thing as a recession. It all expensive there. Any chance eh?

  • Tannasgh

    I was raised during the first wave IC and microprocessor enabled DIYers. As I grew older, what I learned led me to computers, to networking and inevitably a very successful career in IT. With the revival of DIY and the development of the Maker’s Movement I returned to my interest in things both mechanical and electronic. I have become, within the last 10 years, a denizen of Fort Worth.

    Realizing that Fort Worth was the home of Radio Shack, I was exceited as my first venture to RS in 20 years found me at the store in Montgomery Plaza. Schematic in hand I was ready to swoop in, pick up parts and zip home to start building my first re-familiarization project. I was sadly disappointed by what I found, or more accurately what I didn’t find. Those things that I was used to finding as a young maker were no longer available. I found fewer than 20% of the parts I needed for the project.

    So I began to look around. I found Mouser, Allied Electronics, Digikey, Adafruit, Sparkfun, and many other companies that were ready to serve me. With Mouser, they had everything I was looking for, in-stock and available less than an hour after ordering online. They also have a sales staff that are knowledgeable about the product lines they carry, and engineering specialists to provide sales support if needed. I hate to have say it, but I abandoned the ship before the shack went under water in lieu of Mouser. That having been said, I think that there are a number of things that Radio Shack could do to get back in the game. But you are going to need to educate your retail staff on components. They are just barely knowledgeable about components. This is a drag for first time DIYers, and it is a service that many of the newer web-based retailers offer.

    Some creative suggestions to for your team.

    1. Carry what makers are looking for. For instance, sell PC Boards that fit in the project cases you sell. I recently bought a project case and a PCB what was closest in size to the case. When I got them home I realized that I had to do a lot of modification to them to get them to work. How about a more diverse selection of them too. Also, the one that I bought only came with two screws, when the plastic bottom is intended to take four. It puts your retail people in an awkward position when I have to return it.

    2. Carry what makers are looking to buy. Things like sevos, stepper motors, stepper controllers, programmable microcontrollers other than the ones from Parallax, a wider variety of resistors, capacitors, ICs, power connectors, a wider variety of sensors, transmitters and recieviers, a better selection ofrechargeable batteries and chargers and basic robotics parts. Might also be good to know what the other companies charge for these things. I invariaby buy sensors elsewhere because the prices at RS are ridiculous.

    3. Stop the age old Radio Shack profit margin tactic of charging $6.29 for 12 six inch pieces of heat shrink or outrageous amounts for connection wire, solder or test clamps. I can buy this stuff at Fry’s for next to nothing and also have a selection of wire gauges and types. Those may seem like little things, but who wants a project that has $15.00 in electronic components and $30.00 in peripheral stuff?

    4. Carry name brand items. I hate to say it but there is a bit of distrust when it comes to RS rebranded products. I bought a de-soldering iron a few months ago and have already had to replace the tip. I am willing to pay good money for reliable tools.

    5. Carry tools like handheld oscilloscopes. These things are in the affordable DIYer range now. Perhaps something like the DSO Nano?

    6. Have a presence in the Maker community. Sponsor events, provide technical know how, and demo new products that you will carry. Even your home community wonders sometime how your boat continues to float. I think about it every day when I drive past TCC :/

    7. One last comment. This may be hard to swallow, perhaps even an ego bruise, and I am probably going to branded a heretic for saying it, but if RS is truly going to recommit to the DIY community, it has a lot of fences to mend besides the ones mentioned above. I for one cannot figure out what differentiates you in the market. You sell electronics. So does Best Buy and a number of other retailers at much better prices as they have the economy of scale advantage. You sell hook up equipment. So do the electronics resellers. You sell peripherals…etc…etc…etc. Basic business rules say that you have to stand out

    8. Books and/or magazines perhaps? I have recently become a huge fan of Make Magazine and the "…For Evil Geniuses" series of books. Wanna get people to build stuff, give them easy to follow instructions. I know the web exists, but for DIYers books are a more visceral part of the experience.

    9. Embrace open-source hardware and software! Viva Egalitae!

    10. Finally, and I hate to say this as Fort Worth is experiencing a Renaissance, and I am sure that this comment will lead to me being branded a heretic, but you guys have lost your "Hip". If you are truly serious about breathing some life into things, you should rebrand the DIY side of your business. I am speaking for myself and many others I know, but "Radio Shack" has left a bad taste in the mouth of DIYers since the early nineties. Having to buy 3 different adapaters just to get the cable you want will tend to do this to you. A revival will work, but the DIY side needs to find a way to distance itself from the retail "other stuff" side of the house to regain its "Hip". A website with dedicated how-to’s, videos of things people make with Shack Gear, free or open-source schematics with parts lists from RS that they can be made with.

    I would love to see the DIY part of the Shack come back to life. I love living in Fort Worth and would like to be able to proudly say that Radio Shack was down but got up and got back in the fight. Competition is always a good thing because it drives down ng for consumers which in turn leads to more sales.

    This is just my opinion, but you might develop some type of open ended questionnaire to glean what customers are looking for when they come to you for DIY parts.

    One last suggestion. Many people are selling kits with PCB and parts. Many DIYers however develop their own PCBs but don’t have the facility to produce them. In the longer term you might offer a service that can do this. Send the router diagram, pay a fee and get back a completed board. If you need more they are kept on file and can be ordered in quantity. Somewhat like what Walgreens, CVS, Wal-Mart does with photos.
    -A

  • Tannasgh

    Oh yes…and Arduinos/Arduino Shields and possibly Freescale?

  • hank

    I lived at Radio Shacks (when there was till Tandy!). It was a source of almost every useful part (resistor, caps, xformers, ICs, switches, etc.) I ever needed. It has recently become a store for cell phones, and some of the least useful accessories and overpriced patch cables. IMHO you moved from marking to people who know what they need to marketing to people who don’t know better. And to add insult to injury prices are outrageous! Perhaps because you have to take too many products back?

    If you are going to focus on the needs of Arduino / PIC / BASIC Stamp DIYers please focus on providing *useful quality* parts. For example, a well-known Arduino parts source sells a rotary encoder that has one physical indent for every four electrical increments! And it cannot be panel mounted. Using this part requires unnecessary programming and physical machinations to accommodate the encoder.

    There are many components we need esp. switches, pots, encoders, ICs, resistors, caps, inductors, LEDs, displays, and connectors that need to be panel mounted, inter-board connectors and solid and stranded wire that match the connectors. We also need enclosures (including aluminum), and the tools to work on aluminum such as a chassis punches, files, nibblers.

    And again, please do not forget quality.

    Although others have asked you to carry Arduino boards and shields. I believe there are many sources for these parts and you are going to create unnecessary competition especially since you unlikely be able to provide the technical support for these products. Focus on what you once did very well – supply the parts. Focus on the parts that the Arduino sites do not specialize in. AND as a courtesy – provide links to as many Arduino / PIC / BASIC Stamp sites. The world is big enough for all of you to succeed.

  • Greg

    1. Arduino and parts
    2. DIY 3D printer kits and parts
    3. Roomba / webcam wifi robot kits and parts

  • Dickles

    your problem RS, is fundamental; That you enlisted youtube to crowdsource solutions shows inherent naivete of the DIY communities; You feature "Amy" who hardly sounds knowledgeable; That your solution is to find a solution in the comments section is laughable. You want a solution—fire your CMO. Sponsor DIY sites & forums. Create a DIY genius bar. But that would all take courage and foresight that your team of cell phone shillers lack.

  • BZ

    DFrobot makes inexpensive Arduino clones. Hobbyists love the Arduino (I own 6). Why not make a Radio Shack branded open source Arduino clone cheaper. Even just a protosheild for a few bucks would get me in the store more often than I go to Radio Shack now. Keep any Arduino clone under 25 bucks. 22.99 for an Arduino Uno clone and you’d likely have a hard time keeping them in stock. The Arduino is the COCO of the new millennium.

  • Bob

    The comments here have listed many good suggestions, and I do agree that RS has become much more of a consumer electronics store than a resource for raw components and such. There is still a RS in Nashville TN that is mostly way I lovingly remember RS to be. It is staffed by knowledgeable people that realize that when you ask for a 10k pot, they don’t call the cops thinking you’re asking for drugs. You can help create your market by sponsoring DIY electronics clinics, but you’ll have to lose the 20 y/o cell phone salesman who is a professional txt msger and doesn’t know what a voltage divider is. Compile basic starter kits with common standard resistor and capacitors, prototyping and/or bread boards, common and matched transistors, fundamental IC’s like 555′s and op/audio-amps, and small assortments of switches and LED’s. AND RESTOCK YOUR MAGNET WIRE and other parts as well! ARDUINOS!!! [`Nuff said there] Also, contact Forrest Mims III and have him write another, more up-to-date book for you guys, he’s the reason I am 1 semester away from an EE degree! Also, if you must keep the cell phones and generic radio controlled cars keep those stores in the malls and call them "Consumer Electronics Shack" but have at least one store per area that is truly "Radio Shack" with the stuff you used to carry back in the day. And have someone there that actually knows about electronics, that’s paramount. There’s a boatload of engineering students that have to go find jobs that have nothing to do with electronics over the summer and their breaks as well as after-school work, hire them! One of the most intelligent soon-to-be EE’s I know works at Wendy’s Hamburgers for cryin out loud, he’d kill for a job at RS if you went DIY!
    There’s much more I could say but this is getting long winded and it seems like many of the ideas have already been raised. Plus, you already let Schrödinger’s cat out of the box, so be ready for a BIG response.

  • Dr. Richard H. Sterkenburg

    I subscribed to your E-mail account on the basis of a ten dollar discount. Today they had the items I wanted and by that time the offer was closed. I now unsubscribe as I think that for the privilege of my E-mail that gitf offer should not be dated. My bad? Maybe but capitalism is disloyal thru it’s fine print.

    Sorry but it is leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

    RHStekrenburg

  • razrburn

    looking at your market here are some big tips.
    1.In general how many people only buy a product with a datasheet available? most beginners or 90%+ of the population
    2.employee skill, I don’t expect all employees to know everything they sell but it doesn’t hurt to train them a little maybe they learn a small project each week or month.. there is nothing like shopping, and being asked can I help you by a employee, then you say your looking for rfid tags, or transistors. then they are walking the other direction attempting to figure out what that might look like or what it does.
    3.organized the draws!, I often find myself looking at incorrectly labeled and organized draws

    what I might like to see in my local radio shack
    more microcontroller accessories things like thermoresistors, a hd47780 lcd maybe nice

    also at times I find myself making to make runs of wire 1ft-5ft, and my local stores dont sell any kind on connector that can quickly plugin and unplug..

    in the past few years:
    90 out of 100 parts I purchased online
    75% of items radio shack doesnt carry
    of those other 25%
    11% where out of stock or draws where terribly unorganized
    14% were leds, resistors, and wire
    when I do go to radio shack 1/2 the trips are a waste of time, I mostly end up looking for something that radioshack doesnt carry, now I found a new resource but it m-f only. so for now radio shack is my sat and sun source..

  • JMarler

    My suggestion would be that instead of searching for those "big parts" that will make my project awesome, how about going back to carrying the basics? Why are you called the Radio Shack? Because the original "makers" and "diy" hobbyists back in the day would come there looking for basic radio parts. Resistors. Transistors. Capacitors. Transformers. The reason I stopped going to Radio Shack was due to the lack of the basic essentials for electronics prototyping and hobby projects. Also, bring back more guys like Dwayne that understand electronics. It seems like every time I do pop into a Radio Shack, all the reps know about is the latest cell phone promo. I ask where the mylar capacitors are, and the reps look at me like I’m speaking Japanese. Radio Shack still has the best prototyping boards and de-soldering irons on the planet, so I know someone there still cares about the shade tree engineers like me.

  • Henry Ritz/KB2VJP

    yOU HAVE SEEMED TO HAVE REDUCED THE NUMBER AND KINDS OF ELECTRONIC PARTS AT THE PEEKSKIL NEW YORK BEACH SHOPPING CENTER IN FAVOR OF SELLING CELL PHONES. BUT I DON’T BUY VERY MUCH THERE ANYMORE.

    SOMETINE AFTER I SHOPPED AT THIS RADIO SHACK STORE I READ THE MANAGER AND SOME OF THE EMPLOYEE’S WERE ARRESTED FOR STEALING THE IDENTITIES OF 10 NY CITY COPS AND THEIR CREDIT CARDS. ABOUT THIS TIME I NOTICED FRADULENT CHARGES ON MY CREDIT CARD AND CALLED THE NY STATE POLICE ABOUT IT. ONE
    THING I REMEMBER IS THAT THE CASHIER DOUBLE SWIPED MY CREDIT CARD. THE POLICE FOUND WHO WAS USING MY CARD AND CORRECTED THE PROBLEM.

    WHAT I REMEMBER AT THE TIME WAS THAT AFTER WRITING TO THE RS DISTRICT MANAGER, HE CALLED AND SAID
    IT COULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED AT THIS RS STORE. SINCE THEN I HAVE ONLY MADE VERY SMALL PURCHASES WITH
    CASH. I TELL EVERYONE I KNOW ABOUT THIS EXPERIANCE TO WATCH OUT FOR THEIR CREDIT CARDS AT RS STORES.

  • Joe

    Bravo Radio Shack! It is nice to hear that you are recognizing that there are still a lot of us out there that want the guts, not the products. It would be really cool to see you at Maker Faire Detroit as well!

  • signal7

    Seriously, I cringe at the thought of ever stepping foot in a RS store. The employees, not the components, are the worst of it. I don’t need or WANT to be asked 300 times if I can be helped! Most of the time, I’m trying to imagine a design in my head while I’m shopping and your constant interruptions make it impossible to think. Even worse than that is the fact that those same employees will look at me like I’m out of my mind if I actually do try and convey some idea of what I’m working on. Fix that first and foremost, if anything. There’s nothing worse than having to tell someone, “You *can’t* help me because you lack the education or even the interest to understand what I want/need”.

    Secondly, the tool/component selection in most stores is either not stocked or so small as to be useless for all but one or two parts. No one could hope to design and finish a project using only what’s available in a RS store.

  • dave

    Turn the shack back into the place to go for DIY electronics hobbyists. A few decades ago I used to buy parts there, but as I began to appreciate parts selection and quality available, then with the advent of the internet, I just don’t think of the Shack as the place to go anymore.

    Stock all the basic discrete parts like multiple sizes and electrical values on very low ESR, top Japanese brand capacitors. 1% precision metal film resistors. Chip components like resistors and not just in some random variety pack. High quality switches, 3W power LEDs from Cree/etc, teflon insulated wire, fiberglass and silicone heat resistant insulated appliance wire, RC toy replacement parts, a full range of Li-Ion and LiFEPO4 batteries in common sizes like 14500, 18650, etc. Decent, not toy/junk grade soloar cells, high quality mounting hardware such as standoffs, multicount screw packs in sizes people need not just random tiny things with too few in a pack.

    You need to be a one stop shop for all parts needed to complete a project, keeping the DIY hobbyist from going there, and ordering 2 places online, and a trip to two different hardware stores, etc. Save people time, and gasoline, and then you can charge a bit more for quality parts but as it stands now people are spending the time and gas and finding only junk parts if you have the part at all.

    I’m sure the beancounters are saying these parts aren’t your profit leaders. True! Your core shoppers were driven away, it’s going to take a dedicated effort and some advertising, twittering, blogging, maybe even a DIY community project pool to get people into the stores to see the parts selection improvements you could make.

    People like to DIY build things that integrate into their lives if it’s HIGH quality. For example, put up a forum with a high end iPod headphone amplifier project, stock the parts needed to make it in store (Including a decent looking selection of project cases, it’s sort of laughable the shack never even did that) and get some website community momentum going around making gadgets that enrich our lives.

    Get out on the web and look at what the bigger spenders in DIY electronics web communities are building. Stock those parts, other people are sheep and will just buy the same parts to be sure they don’t make mistakes.

  • craig

    I can’t believe what I’m reading. Everyone on this thread has complained about RadioShack not carrying enough of this, and charging too much for that, and only shilling cell phones.

    Here’s the thing: If RadioShack actually charged what you might consider a reasonable price for components, stocked the stores with a wider variety of components, and stopped celling cell phones, they wouldn’t be able to afford to keep the lights on.

    Wireless phone contracts are RadioShack’s most profitable business. Packs of transistors aren’t — at any price.

    As for the allusions made to the less-than-knowledgeable and less-than-interested staff, don’t expect this to improve any time soon. You cannot get anyone to manufacture enthusiasm on minimum wage. And without that enthusiasm, you cannot expect them to take the time to learn the products and be excited to talk to you about them. You’re basically saying you want all the employees to have masters degrees in engineering, which is patently absurd.

  • Lorenzo

    Technology is crazy, thanks for the awesome post.

  • rechy

    when are you getting in htc evo 4g and how much will it cost with an upgrade

  • Mike Green

    Hi,
    I pains me to go to a Radio Shack these days. I only do it when I don’t have time to get it off the net.
    Rows of cell phones and teenage kids who have no idea what they are selling (besides phones) are a real hassle. Especially when they insist on helping you, then have absolutely no clue what you need. This is not griping, it is meant to be informative. I would really like to see you get back to your roots. I would like to see more Amateur Radio equipment, maybe even some RC stuff. Have you guys thought of more hobby items in general? Maybe hi-tech toys? Make Radio shack interesting again.
    Good luck.
    Thanks
    Mike Green

  • Josh

    Thanks Mike for introducing me to sparkfun.com I found a great starter digi oscilloscope for my starter home lab!

  • dave_is_right

    dave from July 10th, 2011 at 2:01 am,

    i agree! what happened to the shack? there is one across the street and i never even think to walk in there anymore. this page was one of only a dozen results displayed by google when searching “18650 site:radioshack.com” bah!

  • Jeffie Shapley

    These days people are either too lazy or not savvy enough to do any DIY projects. Even though most of the how to on those DIY projects can be found online.

  • Dolem

    Radio Shack is the best. Im glad that they are back.