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In some ways I felt sad when I learned that RadioShack will be closing down 1,784 stores by the end of this month. That’s because RadioShack stores were so ubiquitous in so many areas (both where I live and the places I’ve travelled to) so it feels like the loss of something familiar that has been around for so long.

When I was growing up I remember my father used to occasionally go to RadioShack to replace a cable for the stereo system or the TV or some other electronic doodad. Occasionally he would come home with some item that my mother used to call “his latest toy.” One such toy I remember was when he brought home one of these scanners that picked up radio signals from police vehicles, fire trucks, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles. That thing drove my mom crazy whenever my father played around with it for a few weeks as he listened to police/firefighters/EMT respond to calls about things like a car accident or an attempted robbery. I also remember when he soon lost interest in that toy and my mother was relieved because she didn’t have to hear those cb messages from nearby emergency vehicles.

After I grew up and got married, my then-husband and I used to occasionally go to RadioShack together because we needed to replace a cable for some electronic device or if the AV adaptor of one of our electronic devices stopped working for some reason and we could get a new one (thus avoiding throwing away the electronic device). There were times when I used to go to RadioShack on my own mainly because I needed to buy a pack of batteries and I didn’t feel like walking through a grocery store or pharmacy to buy them. The big advantage of RadioShack was that the stores were small enough that one could quickly pick up a pack of batteries, go to a cashier (which was either open or had maybe one or two people waiting ahead), pay, then leave within 15 minutes. RadioShack was a definite time-saver for me.

RadioShack began going downhill for me a number of years ago when the store installed a new cashier system. Instead of just paying for a pack of batteries then leaving, the clerk was required to input my name, address, and telephone number every single time I purchased anything from that store. Even if all I wanted to do was to purchase a pack of AA batteries with cash, the clerk was required to input my name, address, and telephone number. If I refused to provide the information, the clerk couldn’t easily override that computerized cash register because it needed someone to enter those fields before it would proceed further with the transaction. Worse, it made checkout way longer than before because that new cash register system was way slow. After going through that hassle just to buy batteries a few times, I pretty much stopped shopping at RadioShack for a number of years. Even this 1990’s ad featuring The Jetsons wasn’t enough to lure me back in that store.

One of the last things I remember purchasing at RadioShack was an Arduino board because I was taking an Arduino programming class that was held at Makerspace 125 a couple of years ago and RadioShack had that board on sale. By then the cashier system had improved to the point where I no longer had to provide my name, address, and telephone number just so I could pay for something at that store. The bad news was that I literally had to go to the very back of the store to find the Arduino board because the front of the store featured nothing but cell phones, tablets, and related accessories. It was hard to believe that I was actually in a RadioShack. At first I thought I had accidentally walked into a cell phone store.

RadioShack’s disastrous turn away from its origins as a electronics parts store for hobbyists and tinkerers into a greater emphasis on selling cell phones and tablets is one of the things that is literally sinking that store chain into total oblivion despite this message in last year’s Superbowl ad.

All of the RadioShack stores in my area are in the process of closing down for good, as you can see in the two photos of just two of those RadioShack locations.

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I decided to go inside just one of the stores and take a few pictures for posterity since they were all closing down at the same time.

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One side of the front of the store had the large section devoted to smartphones, tablets, and related accessories that nearly took over the entire store.

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The other side of the store front had even more accessories for smartphones and tablets.

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Ironically the radios that originally gave RadioShack its name were relegated to the very back of the store in favor of smartphones and tablets.

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But I would occasionally come across a product that harkened back to RadioShack’s origins as a store for hackers and tinkerers, such as the ones in the next few photos. The vast majority of those items were relegated to the very back of the store along with the radios.

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The back of the store also had empty shelves while the front had items related to smartphones and tablets still in stock. This further indicates the major mistake that RadioShack executives made over the years when it turned away from the things that the chain was good at in favor of smartphones and tablets, which drove away the original customer base and was trounced by competitors who were also selling smartphones and tablets. Had RadioShack stuck with catering to the stereo geeks, electronics tinkerers, computer whizzes, and hackers in general, it could’ve undergone a resurgence as a store to be reckoned with due to the increase in opening STEM centers and makerspaces throughout the U.S. RadioShack’s name could’ve been synonymous with the Maker movement. Too bad, so sad.

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There were also a few oddities that were in stock, such as this RadioShack VHS Cleaning Cassette, which should be donated to a museum by this point.

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There were also a shelf full of toys based on the classic TV Christmas special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

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Here’s a final view of the RadioShack Going Out of Business Sale.

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I’ll end this post with this clip from the HBO show Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.

UPDATE (March 29, 2015): I came by one of the local RadioShacks on the last day that it’s going to close its doors forever. (It’s a different location from the ones in the above photographs but it doesn’t matter too much because all of the RadioShacks in my area are closing down for good as I’m typing this.)

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By that point the store was mostly empty of inventory except for one section near the front door. All of the inventory in that section were mainly cell phone accessories (like cases and earphones).

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