WILL RADIOSHACK RETURN?

We suspect that if you want to write a blockbuster movie or novel, the wrong approach is to go to a studio or publisher and say, “I have this totally new idea that is like nothing you’ve ever seen before…” Even Star Trek was pitched to the network as “Wagon Train to the stars.” People with big money tend to want to bet on things that have succeeded before, which is why so many movies are either remakes or Star Trek XXII: The Search for 4 PM Dinner Specials. Maybe that’s what the El Salvador-based Unicomer Group had in mind when they bought one of our favorite brands, RadioShack. They are reportedly planning a major comeback for the beleaguered brand both online and in the physical world.

In all fairness, the Shack may be better in our memories than in our realities. It was handy to stop off and pick up a coax connector, even if it cost three times the going rate for one. There was a time when RadioShack offered reasonable parts for projects, and it seems like near the end, they tried to hit that target again, but for many years, you could not find the typical parts for a modern project there anyway. However, Unicomer isn’t just a random group of investors.

 

Apparently, Unicomer has been operating in Central America as a RadioShack franchisee since 1998. In 2015, they bought the RadioShack brand for Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. But now, they’ve acquired the rights to the brand in over 70 countries, including the U.S., Canada, China, and Europe. We imagine their El Salvador website might hint at what is coming. We didn’t see anything in the way of components or P-Box kits, though.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the new owners want to focus on cellphone products, headphones, batteries, and adapters. So, it isn’t clear if you’ll be stopping at the local mall to pick up an Arduino and a roll of solder or not. This isn’t the first Radio Shack revival attempt. We didn’t even cover the silly attempt to make it into a cryptocurrency company. But our original advice still stands: Give away content to sell components. People can buy parts anywhere at crazy low prices. What they can’t readily get is the support that helps them use those components effectively. The same holds true for computer and consumer products. It might seem silly to us, but ordinary people are probably perplexed by setting up a VPN for their home network or designing a theater room. Helping them is one avenue to creating sales in today’s price-driven market for electronics. After all, how many parts did the famous [Forrest Mims] books sell?

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