Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Empty Store

My first spring-terminal kit from Radio Shack (1976 catalog)
I'm not sure what age I was when I started being fascinated by electronics.  Record players really were the first thing I was obsessed with, but it was soon followed by radios, and most things that were built out of transistors, resistors, capacitors, and other components.  My late brother Paul received one of these spring-terminal project kits when I was very young, and I just had to have one when I was old enough.  His kit, the one I received later on, and most of the electronic kits I built in the early days came from Radio Shack.

Today I am mourning the loss of the retail store known as Radio Shack.  Some of you may be asking: Why today?  Radio Shack already
died didn't it?  Not really.  Whereas most of them closed in the last several rounds of bankruptcy closures, a few of them remained.  Much of what they sold was gone, but they were still carrying a fully stocked parts cabinet, and many DIY items, and supplies.

The funny thing was that one of the last stores left, anywhere, was here on the North Shore of Long Island.  The Radio Shack in Northport, NY was still open as recently as a month ago.  No more though.  I stopped by yesterday hoping to grab some more batteries since they have been running a great special on them, and the store was empty.  No sign with an explanation.  No going out of business sale (mostly because that's what they had been already doing there).  Nothing.

Even though I came to realize at a young age that the things that Radio Shack sold were not always the best in their category, and frequently not a great value, it was still a one-stop-shop for technology.  I worked for the company for a few years, even going through manager training, and leaving the week before I was to rise to store manager to join my family's business.  I owned so many of their products over the years, and still have quite a few.  I earned great respect for the company when they re-entered the Ham Radio market when so few companies acknowledged the hobby.  Say what you want about The Shack, but they were here for years, and rode the wave of many technologies as they emerged.

The catalog left us years ago too, and I mourned its parting as well.  I always looked forward to paging through it every year, and watching the evolution of the electronics world, and whether they had introduced some new Shortwave radios, or kits.  If you want to relive the memories of the RS catalog, they are all archived at  Personally, my favorites are the years immediately following the merger with Allied Electronics when they were carrying Allied Knight Kits and other products side-by-side with the Radio Shack products.

Radio Shack still exists online at  There are still franchise stores around too, but none near me here.  It appears that the company stores are gone though.  It will be interesting to see what becomes of the company as they liquidate the last of their stock.  Maybe we'll see something come of it, but I seriously doubt it.

Farewell old friend.  I will miss you.

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