Dear RadioShack, It didn’t have to end this way…


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It’s official.

RadioShack has filed for bankruptcy.

Call me naïve, but I really don’t think this had to happen.  I realize I’m ‘Monday Morning quarterbacking’ (Why DID Seattle throw that pass on the one yard line?!?!  I digress….) but RadioShack had made some bad choices.

RadioShack’s bankruptcy, which has been expected for months, follows 11 consecutive unprofitable quarters as the company has failed to transform itself into a destination for mobile phone buyers. Its sale agreement with Standard General could spare it the fate most retailers suffer in Chapter 11 – liquidation.

A destination for mobile phone buyers.  Seriously?  You can get a cell phone at WalMart for pete sakes!

RadioShack made multiple attempts at rebranding, as if a logo or name change was going to pull them out of obscurity. It wasn’t enough.

As someone who has literally gone to RadioShacks my whole life, the one thing that RadioShack fell away from was what made it famous in the first place.

RadioShack was trailblazing as a Maker store long before people even used the term “Maker.”   Yet, as the years passed, the only things that qualified as maker-esque were buried in the far corners of the store, literally collecting dust.  Most employees, it seemed, liked techie stuff, but weren’t that well versed in maker-esque components that were on their shelves.

I went over to Google Trends and looked at a few search terms to see how often people were Googling certain terms since 2010 (I didn’t put these all on one graph because there were scaling issues)


3D Printing






Maker Space


Raspberry Pi

Every trend is going up.

But, not this one:

RadioShack Over the Last 10 Years

RadioShack Over the Last 10 Years


How many 3d Printers did you see at RadioShack?  How many maker seminars or get-togethers on any of the above topics did you see at your neighborhood RadioShack?  For that matter, how many online webinars on the above topics did you see RadioShack sponsor over the last few years?


Starbucks oozes coffee and community

Apple stores ooze design and tech

RadioShack oozed…well, I’m not exactly sure what, and that’s the problem, and people sensed it.


Did you ever walk into a RadioShack and  feel that you were in the Kingdom of Possibilities – a place where you could make anything and the people there were committed to helping you do it?  I’d walk up to the counter at RadioShack with an armful of electrical supplies for a project I was working on, and the store clerks would tell me about the great deals they had on phones and batteries. What did  that say?  It said: “Thanks for spending all that money on interesting electrical stuff, but we’d really rather have you buy cell phone stuff.”

I’ve always wanted to start a maker space in my environs. I’ve also always thought that RadioShack would be a great sponsor.

Maybe after the restructuring, they’ll think so too.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Michael Plishka
Michael Plishka is the President and Founder of ZenStorming Solutions, LLC an innovation design consultancy. He believes in co-design methodologies, sharing design thinking essentials - empowering people and companies to make a difference with their products and services.


  1. Principally, what RadioShack oozed is a lack of understanding changes taking place re. consumer wants and needs. At the end, they didn’t even have enough cash to close their stores. They are (or, more precisely, were) stuck in a selling model and era when consumers were less tech savvy. They sell a lot of low-margin, fairly commoditized items. In sum, they failed to adapt quickly enough, if at all, to find more contemporary ways of creating value.

    They now sort of join the unfortunate ranks of Borders, Blockbuster, CompUSA, and Circuit City. Why sort of? Because the RadioShack name isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon. When Sprint takes over 1,750 RadioShack stores, the co-branded footprint for RadioShack will still be about as big as Verizon’s retail stores. And, there are still more than 1,000 RadioShack franchise stores not part of the bankruptcy.


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