Apr 23, 2007

Radio Shack survives

Great Onion piece on the baffling longevity of Radio Shack:
One of Day's theories about RadioShack's continued solvency involves wedding DJs, emergency cord replacement, and off-brand wireless telephones. Another theory entails countless RadioShack gift cards that sit unredeemed in their recipients' wallets. Day has even conjectured that the store is "still coasting on" an enormous fortune made from remote-control toy cars in the mid-1970s.

Day admitted, however, that none of these theories seems particularly plausible.

"I once went into a RadioShack location incognito in order to gauge customer service," Day said. "It was about as inviting as a visit to the DMV. For the life of me, I couldn't see anything I wanted to buy. Finally, I figured I'd pick up some Enercell AA batteries, though truthfully they're not appreciably cheaper than the name brands."

"I know one thing," Day continued. "If Sony and JVC start including gold-tipped cable cords with their products, we're screwed."
I spent two summers working at a Radio Shack dealership (no, not a "company store") in Elma, running a one-hour photo lab on the side. We sold a lot of cell phones, a few transistors, a CB antenna now and then, some RC cars around Christmas. Some of my fondest memories:

  • The slightly drunk man who tried to compensate for his inebriation by chugging coffee and smoking cigarettes before coming in to buy a cell phone. He'd lean over the counter to ask a question, and I'd almost puke.
  • The (thankfully) rare times I had to shield my eyes from photos of local residents in the buff.
  • Learning to solder by fixing a guy's mono-to-stereo switch on his boombox, which was stuck on mono. I didn't even burn myself.
  • Replacing batteries on junky watches for the creepy old guys who'd score them at the swap meet. They could've gotten a better timepiece for the price of the battery, but it's always about the thrill of the deal.
  • At 17, being mistaken for the owner of the store by a government employee.
Ah, Radio Shack. May you exist in perpetuity.

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