The news that there were numerous bidders for the remnants of Radio Shack includes the fact of a joint Sprint/Radio Shack deal that came to the press in February. The bid aims to keep a half-skeleton of the stores alive, and use them as a place to promote Sprint wireless. We hope it wins, as there are still thousands of employees who would at least have a future.
However, the stores and real estate are not the only assets of value in the bankruptcy. There is at least some intellectual property, a distribution network and a product line that still has value.
Of course, the company has made so many mis-steps, including rebranding as “The Shack” when really, people call it radio shack. It also missed the whole gaming craze, which it pioneered, and has been completely useless in the field of personal computers, which it sort of half invented. It also ignored all its great brands and products in favor of an Uber brand.
For instance, in antennas, it had Archer. Today, an antenna is a very useful thing, as people attempt to cut the cord to cable. However, at the store where I would go, the antennas did not work for HD, and were not really thought through as products by buyers.
That being said, iPhone apps have just about killed every segment of an old Radio Shack store. From clock radios to receivers to telephones to cassette recorders to thermometers to weather radios, an iPhone does it well, although not with the nostalgic charm.
Of course, the decision will be with the court. And it can only be a niche play, though I still would love a friggin Flavoradio, in yellow or blue please!
Seriously, though, it would seem like the judge could perhaps piece together a solution that would please the bidders who wanted to keep some stores alive, and the others who want pieces.
Over the years, we have had some suggestions and comment; some of the related stories are show below, including a story about Rodrigo Mitma and Josh Finkelstein’s entry in BrandlandUSA and Savannah College of Art and Design’s Phoenix Competition. The contest, led by ad professor Sean Trapani, attempted to revive dying or dormant brands.
- The name. While it is certainly tarnished, Radio Shack has value. It is often the first place where you go to get a connector, charger, iPhone case, USB drive and all the other little pieces that you need for our electronic era. Much as we try to Bluetooth or Wifi our way to connectivity, we still need all those doodads, which become ever more complex, not less. Questions such as what as the difference between big HDMI and little HDMI? Does HDTV work? That sort of thing.
- The brands: Radio Shack has ignored its sub-brands, but there is some value there.
- The website: Alexa stats show radioshack.com does not have great traffic, but it ranks 1,470 in the United States. Each visitor stays about three minutes, viewing about three pages. Not horrible, and that site could be valuable as a hub for electronics information and mail order.
- The expertise: I am not sure where you find 23 year olds who like to talk to 40-plus people about electronics tips, but these employees are good at it, and often approach it with a sense of humor.
- The number of stores. Back in the 1970s, when Radio Shack was king, there were about 2,000 stores. Today, there are over 4,200, and the idea that one store is needed in every neighborhood shopping center is just too much for a company to manage. As I recall, the typical Radio Shack of the mid 70s was slightly larger, and had room for the higher margin electronics that would spur all the other sales of connectors, tapes and such.
- Needs: What does a person need today for electronics if you have an iPhone? You never have enough USB chargers, but separate from that, what else?
- Computers: The 60 plus set loves Facebook, but has trouble with routers, laptops and such. Having such help is definitely a market that they ignored.
- Franchising: The brand is well known, and I could see many entrepreneurs who could use the flag as a way to sell the sort of bucket shop items that we all need, as well as sell Dish TV services and the like.