Posts tagged ‘Radio Shack’

Can You Name a Retailer Who Has Had A Second Act?

Apparently, the nose dive at Best Buy is accelerating.  Watching retail just as a consumer over the last few decades, it seems that whenever a retailer starts going down the drain, they never recover.  Calls are made for more visionary management to reposition the company, but I can't remember any such effort ever working.  The slide may be fast - Circuit City, CompUSA, Borders - or slow - Sears, A&P - but the nose dive never seems to reverse.  The only retailer I can possibly remember really executing a fairly large shift was maybe Gap from just being a Levi's outlet to whatever it is today.   And maybe Radio Shack, which is sort of this zombie you think has been outdated for like three decades but keeps hanging on.

Necessity is the Mother of ... a Great Kindle Gadget

Today I found myself out-of-town with my Kindle almost out of battery life, no Kindle charger, and a long plane flight tomorrow.  Passing a Radio Shack, I went in, with the intention of buying yet another charger for it  (I knew from a similar experience that I needed 5 volts with an "A" plug).  But I knew my charger was at home, and was hesitant to pay $20-30 for what would after today be an extra.

So I bought the following:

  • The cheapest USB cable I could find
  • An "A" plug
  • A short wire Radio Shack sells with a socket for the plug on one end and bare wires on the other (both the last two of these are located in the store near the replacement transformers)
  • A small roll of black electrical tape

I realized something key:  I already had a 5v power supply, in my computer, with a handy outlet, called "USB."  All I had to do was get all the plugs to match.

I borrowed some scissors and cut the USB  cable about 8 inches from the flat end, throwing the rest away.  I stripped off the insulation, and found the red and black wires - these are the 5V and ground wires (just search the Internet for USB pinouts if you want to be sure).  I then twisted one wire from the plug wire to the red and the other to the black, and taped the whole thing up (a bit of soldering would have been better, but I forgot my handy MacGyver construction kit). 

And what do you know, I now have a USB charger for my Kindle  (When I first plugged it in, the charge light did not go on, but I reversed the plug in its socket and that did the trick).  This will now charge my Kindle on the road from my laptop or when I am driving from my 12V car charger that has a USB connection.

I think this is a pretty handy accessory, and a quick Internet search did not show anyone currently selling one.

Update:  OK, someone else already thought of this, and has pictures of the procedure.  He notes that the supplied Kindle usb cable will not charge the device as well  (the Kindle cable goes from USB to a special miniature USB port, like the ones on a camera -- my cable goes from USB to the power inlet).  My homegrown version charged it very quickly.

Is it Impossible To Make An Original Observation?

A couple of posts ago, I wondered how Radio Shack still survives when CompUSA is now dead.  Thanks to a reader, I find that the Onion has already plowed this ground:

Despite having been on the job for nine months, RadioShack CEO Julian
Day said Monday that he still has "no idea" how the home electronics
store manages to stay open.

"There must be some sort of business model that enables this company
to make money, but I'll be damned if I know what it is," Day said. "You
wouldn't think that people still buy enough strobe lights and extension
cords to support an entire nationwide chain, but I guess they must, or
I wouldn't have this desk to sit behind all day."

The retail outlet boasts more than 6,000 locations in the United
States, and is known best for its wall-sized displays of
obscure-looking analog electronics components and its notoriously
desperate, high-pressure sales staff. Nevertheless, it ranks as a
Fortune 500 company, with gross revenues of over $4.5 billion and
fiscal quarter earnings averaging tens of millions of dollars.

"Have you even been inside of a RadioShack recently?" Day asked.
"Just walking into the place makes you feel vaguely depressed and
alienated. Maybe our customers are at the mall anyway and don't feel
like driving to Best Buy? I suppose that's possible, but still, it's
just...weird."

I give up.  But the whole Onion article is very funny and worth reading.

Hard for Me To Explain

CompUSA is apparently closing shop, something that is not too surprising observing the follies at my local store.  I can understand how CompUSA was killed by the likes of Best Buy and Fry's Electronics  (not to mention Newegg.com, which is my favorite source).  What I cannot understand is how Radio Shack continues to plod along and survive.  I buy a couple of things a year there (usually something like a transformer replacement or some kind of oddball splitter) but I am always kind of surprised to still find them there -- its like finding a Woolworth's in the local mall.  Though it still seems to make money, with a TTM after-tax margin of about 5%, which is not bad for a retailer.

Update:  here