The Electric Commentary

Friday, March 02, 2007

How Does RadioShack Stay In Business?

I always purchase the MLB radio package so that I can listen to Brewer games no matter where I am. As a courtesy to some of my officemates I thought that I would purchase an FM transmitter (like an iTrip) and have a little mini-baseball broadcast in the office (don't worry, while I don't have the express, written consent of Major League Baseball I do have implied oral consent) for those slow days. Plus we have a lot of non-native Chicagoans in the office and this would give them a chance to occasionally hear the Tigers or Reds or whatever.

One of my friends has been doing this for years with his Sirius Sattelite Radio and the Howard Stern Show, and while I've always considered it legally risky to broadcast Howard in an office (note also that I hate Howard Stern), he's never had any complaints and his FM transmitter works really, really well. If you're curious, it is this one.

There is a RadioShack just outside of my office, so I figured I would stop by and see if they had anything like this.

They did not. They had a cheapish, ugly version that ran only on batteries and had no range. They were also not helpful and didn't seem to understand what I was looking for even though they carried (crappy versions of) the item.

This got me thinking, have I ever had a good experience at RadioShack?

It seems like I find myself in a Radioshack maybe twice a year. The last time I went in I was looking for one of these so that I could listen to the NCAA tournament in an area that did not get AM radio signals. They, once again, did not have it. The Walgreens next door had it.

Yet somehow I was not surprised at my failure to find this RADIO at RADIOshack. I seems like they never have exactly what I'm looking for.

It's disorganized, small, and they used to ask for your phone number when you bought batteries. They are clearly not a "volume-based" retailer, but who would ever buy a big-value high-margin item at RadioShack?

The Loop is littered with RadioShacks, which makes me think that they specialize in impulse buys, but in my experience the humble Walgreen's drug store actually carries more impulse electronics at lower prices.

I'm not sure what RadioShack is up to, but I'm never going into one again. The Simpsons said it best:

Homer: We'll search out every place a sick twisted solitary misfit might run to.
Lisa: I'll start with Radio Shack.

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