Author Topic: History of Tandy & RadioShack  (Read 14821 times)

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Offline eugenenine

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #25 on: June 01, 2016, 05:20:50 pm »
  Radio Shack was never the one to get cheap parts. When I first got on, I knew that they were the "Convenience store" of electronics retailing. The food convenience stores often charge more for the same product than a chain supermarket. I was buying at least 95% of my project parts through mail order since I started in electronics professionally in 1972. This even when I worked for them.

Joe

Well technically it was the place to get cheap parts but as a premium price.   A lot of their stuff was cheaply made but we put up with it because we cold run these and get a crap part when it was needed and then do a better repair later.

It would be nice to see a store like what RS was intended to be and I think there is a market for it, our local Micro Center has a make section where they sell parts.  They have basic resistors, capacitors, etc at a bit of a mark up compared to digikey or mouser but the same stuff not the special lower tolerance runs that RS used to sell.  Micro center also sells Arduino, raspberry Pi, etc at the same price as the mail order places (I bought a Pi zero from them for $5, RS would have sold the same Pi zero for $15 and tried to tell you how much better theirs was than the ones you get online).  Seeing the amount of people buying from that section MicroCenter tells me there is enough of a market to sustain them. 
You just can't over saturate like RS did.  When I could drive past three RS stores between school and work then you have over saturated your market and your stores are going to not make good sales #'s.
Have fewer stores then keep stuff in stock.  If your out of stock like RS always was and I have to order it anyway then I'm not ordering your lesser quality more $ part I'm just ordering from digikey anyway and keeping my own stock.  Likewise don't try to sell the same stuff as someone else but at a higher price.  I'm not going to pay $500 to RS for a Banana phone when i can walk down to the Verizon store and pay $350 for the same model Banana phone.  And don't have the sales droids lie through their teeth that may paying an extra $150 for the privilege of buying from you gives me something extra.  And have your sales droids know your product.  Don't swap my brand new purchase for a used demo model because you didn't know it took a special battery to do in device charging.  Your going to really have to work hard to overcome some of the bad rep RS gained in the last decade or two.
 

Offline lpc32

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #26 on: June 03, 2016, 02:15:49 am »
Selling electronic components in a retail setting is just not viable. To cover costs and make a profit the prices have to be so high that people are quite rightly going to begrudge paying such high prices.
Maybe the solution is some sort of automation? I wonder how Mouser works in this regard. It is possible to order from them a bunch of passives for $1 plus $5 shipping.
 

Offline Tandy

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #27 on: June 03, 2016, 12:59:29 pm »
The economics of mail order like Mouser are very different to retail.

All products are held centrally in a single or small number of warehouses so there is no need to distribute products to individual stores.
There is no need to pre-pack products in retail packaging.
Warehouse space costs significantly less than retail space, particularly as rent and taxes are based on sq. feet/meters and you can easily have a 6m rack hight.
Multiple orders can be picked together, i.e a member of staff can bag up several items for different orders in the resistor isle meaning they don't have to move around the warehouse and can package many more orders per hour that way.

Finally places like mouser only really offer single quantities as a service in the expectation that you will be back for a reel later. They will make very little profit on single items, the bulk of their profit will come from full pack sales. That wouldn't work in a retail shop as nobody is about to go and buy a whole reel of something for a small production run in a store, but even if they did there wouldn't be the space to keep it all in the store.
For more info on Tandy try these links Tandy History EEVBlog Thread & Official Tandy Website
 

Offline timofonic

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #28 on: June 03, 2016, 01:49:08 pm »
What about making a good book about this, interviews and a FOSS episodic documentary? Or would be amazing? You should also interview ham radio people, new trends like hacklabs, highly skilled people taking about the "maker" movement and Arduinos, etc
 

Offline eugenenine

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #29 on: June 03, 2016, 10:49:08 pm »
The economics of mail order like Mouser are very different to retail.

All products are held centrally in a single or small number of warehouses so there is no need to distribute products to individual stores.
There is no need to pre-pack products in retail packaging.
Warehouse space costs significantly less than retail space, particularly as rent and taxes are based on sq. feet/meters and you can easily have a 6m rack hight.
Multiple orders can be picked together, i.e a member of staff can bag up several items for different orders in the resistor isle meaning they don't have to move around the warehouse and can package many more orders per hour that way.

Finally places like mouser only really offer single quantities as a service in the expectation that you will be back for a reel later. They will make very little profit on single items, the bulk of their profit will come from full pack sales. That wouldn't work in a retail shop as nobody is about to go and buy a whole reel of something for a small production run in a store, but even if they did there wouldn't be the space to keep it all in the store.

The tiny components yes, are not cost effective but what about the bigger stuff that people need.  People always find out they need a cable to hook up their new TV 5 minutes after stores close.  Stuff like that is a little more $ than resistors so a better profit margin, as long as you only mark them up 2x over the *mart and not try the radio shack 20x mark up.
 

Offline timb

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #30 on: June 04, 2016, 10:52:04 am »
I had this idea awhile back for an "Electronics Parts Vending Machine". Basically you could stock it with tons of common parts, the sort of stuff RS kept in their "parts drawers" like switches, bulbs, fuses, resistors, capacitors, transistors, ICs, Arduinos, breadboards, solder, etc.

You could do it in such a way that the machine actually contained reels of parts and just fed out the correct amount and cut the tape, which drop down into a retrieval slot at the bottom. Boxed items would be dispensed through the standard "corkscrew" method like they use with snack machines. That would keep your costs down even further as you wouldn't have to separate and repackage loose components.

You could put them at Hackerspaces and colleges for a start.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic; e.g., Cheez Whiz, Hot Dogs and RF.
 

Online rrinker

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #31 on: June 04, 2016, 03:20:55 pm »
 That's a pretty neat idea. You could actually have far more components than the machine would allow to be displayed, since you only need large cabinet space for the boxed items with the corkscrews. Don't really need to have every resistor, capacitor, inductor, and transistor type visible, just a listing and a way to select the desired options on the keypad.
 The only potential problem is getting competent personnel to restock it. It makes no big different if the Cokes are in the first slot when last time the Cherry Cokes were there, but put the reel of 10M resistors where the 1K's were and people will be mad. Integrating some sort of barcode reader to read the reels would severely impact the density.
 I'm biased, but I would use such a thing if it were available. And it be perfect for those late night build sessions and you find you're out of a key part. On a Saturday night. No waiting until Monday when a store opens, or a few days to order from Mouser or DigiKey. Nope, 2AM, pop over to the nearest vending machine and obtain the needed part. Would be neat if they would be web integrated so you could hit a web site and verify the stock level of those machines closest to you, too...

 

Offline lpc32

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #32 on: June 04, 2016, 03:22:24 pm »
Yeah. And if not vending machines, at least large suppliers should automate most of the ordering process with machinery, if they don't already.
Look at Amazon's warehouses with their optimization and semi-automation. It should be easier to do with smaller objects and less variety in shape and size.
 

Offline timb

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #33 on: June 04, 2016, 11:42:27 pm »
That's a pretty neat idea. You could actually have far more components than the machine would allow to be displayed, since you only need large cabinet space for the boxed items with the corkscrews. Don't really need to have every resistor, capacitor, inductor, and transistor type visible, just a listing and a way to select the desired options on the keypad.

Exactly! I picture it like a Redbox kiosk, where you just have an interactive touchscreen and all the magic happens inside.

The only potential problem is getting competent personnel to restock it. It makes no big different if the Cokes are in the first slot when last time the Cherry Cokes were there, but put the reel of 10M resistors where the 1K's were and people will be mad. Integrating some sort of barcode reader to read the reels would severely impact the density.

You could solve that problem by adding a barcode label to the start of the tape on each reel. Basically, when you put in a new reel, the feeder would pull the label through first and read it with a simple IR LED/IR Transistor pair. Then it would know what was in that slot. This wouldn't impact density, either, as you'd already need to have this type of scanning to accurately count the number of parts dispensed from each reel (you could maybe count the sprocket holes in the tape to accurately meter it out). Anyway, I don't think it's a terribly hard problem to solve.

I'm biased, but I would use such a thing if it were available. And it be perfect for those late night build sessions and you find you're out of a key part. On a Saturday night. No waiting until Monday when a store opens, or a few days to order from Mouser or DigiKey. Nope, 2AM, pop over to the nearest vending machine and obtain the needed part. Would be neat if they would be web integrated so you could hit a web site and verify the stock level of those machines closest to you, too...

Web integration would be the way to go. Again, just like Redbox. You could even place your order on the site and it would reserve those components for 6 hours or something. When you get to the kiosk, you just punch in your confirmation code and it dispenses the order and charges your card!

If it was smartly stocked, I would use the hell out of a system like that.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic; e.g., Cheez Whiz, Hot Dogs and RF.
 

Offline edavid

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #34 on: June 05, 2016, 01:58:36 am »
My local hardware store doesn't have to have an elaborate vending machine to sell fasteners, they just have a big self service cabinet.  There's no reason why common electronic parts have to be blister packed to be sold.
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #35 on: June 05, 2016, 02:44:06 am »
My local hardware store doesn't have to have an elaborate vending machine to sell fasteners, they just have a big self service cabinet.  There's no reason why common electronic parts have to be blister packed to be sold.
True, but those bins & drawer boxes have a bad habit of getting everything mixed up by customers. Lots of time to keep sorting what's there in order to do proper inventory.
 

Offline edavid

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #36 on: June 05, 2016, 03:51:43 am »
My local hardware store doesn't have to have an elaborate vending machine to sell fasteners, they just have a big self service cabinet.  There's no reason why common electronic parts have to be blister packed to be sold.
True, but those bins & drawer boxes have a bad habit of getting everything mixed up by customers. Lots of time to keep sorting what's there in order to do proper inventory.

I'm sure they spend some time on that, but it's obviously not too big a problem, even with almost identical looking nuts & bolts.  At least most electronic parts are marked.
 

Offline tonyarkles

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #37 on: June 05, 2016, 04:18:18 am »
My local hardware store doesn't have to have an elaborate vending machine to sell fasteners, they just have a big self service cabinet.  There's no reason why common electronic parts have to be blister packed to be sold.
True, but those bins & drawer boxes have a bad habit of getting everything mixed up by customers. Lots of time to keep sorting what's there in order to do proper inventory.

I'm sure they spend some time on that, but it's obviously not too big a problem, even with almost identical looking nuts & bolts.  At least most electronic parts are marked.

Urgh... The number of times I've picked parts out of a part bin like that at home depot, only to later discover that someone stuck a 9/16" nut into the 1/2" nut bin... Drives me absolutely bonkers.
 

Offline timb

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #38 on: June 05, 2016, 08:07:17 am »
My local hardware store doesn't have to have an elaborate vending machine to sell fasteners, they just have a big self service cabinet.  There's no reason why common electronic parts have to be blister packed to be sold.
True, but those bins & drawer boxes have a bad habit of getting everything mixed up by customers. Lots of time to keep sorting what's there in order to do proper inventory.

I'm sure they spend some time on that, but it's obviously not too big a problem, even with almost identical looking nuts & bolts.  At least most electronic parts are marked.

Urgh... The number of times I've picked parts out of a part bin like that at home depot, only to later discover that someone stuck a 9/16" nut into the 1/2" nut bin... Drives me absolutely bonkers.

Not only that, but the loose parts in those bins have a way of magically appearing in a customer's pocket and walking right out the door. Even otherwise honest people somehow rationalize stealing a 5 cent bolt.

Anyway, I didn't think the big stores like Home Depot even carried loose nuts and bolts? At mine, they're in little plastic bags that contain 5 nuts or whatever. I only see them loose at small hardware stores.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic; e.g., Cheez Whiz, Hot Dogs and RF.
 

Offline Tandy

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #39 on: June 05, 2016, 09:24:22 am »
Also nuts and bolts don't have easily bent pins or issues with static sensitivity.
For more info on Tandy try these links Tandy History EEVBlog Thread & Official Tandy Website
 

Offline edavid

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #40 on: June 05, 2016, 04:02:49 pm »
Not only that, but the loose parts in those bins have a way of magically appearing in a customer's pocket and walking right out the door. Even otherwise honest people somehow rationalize stealing a 5 cent bolt.

And the store doesn't care that much if they do, since they only paid 2 cents for that bolt.

Quote
Anyway, I didn't think the big stores like Home Depot even carried loose nuts and bolts? At mine, they're in little plastic bags that contain 5 nuts or whatever. I only see them loose at small hardware stores.

What does a giant store like Home Depot have to do with our hypothetical "Radio Shack that actually stocks parts" store?  The small to medium hardware store model is more relevant.

Also nuts and bolts don't have easily bent pins or issues with static sensitivity.

Neither do resistors/capacitors/connectors/most small electronic parts.

(But the hardware store I'm thinking of also has lots of delicate little washers and things in the bins.)
 

Online rrinker

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #41 on: June 06, 2016, 12:55:47 am »
 My local Lowes, the first row when you walk in is nothing but drawers of nuts, bolts, and washers. They have prepackaged units of 5, 20 or 25, and 100, but also individual loose items, and backs and pens to package up what you pick out. The idiots flinging things back in the wrong bins really messes me up, I am very bad at telling nut and bolt sizes by appearance. Electronic parts at least, if you are talking large SMD and through whole parts, at least have identification markings so if you pay attention you won't pick a 10K resistor that some dolt through back in the 1K bin when you want all 1K's. However, I would not see this model working, which is something else that raised the cost at Radio Shack - all the packaging and printing on said packaging. It would be wonderful if loose parts would work - maybe common resistors and caps sold by the pound instead of piece. But at least in the US, theft would be rampant. Even if not a completely self-service vending machine, the same sort of thing in a shop like Radio Shack where it would just spit out a receipt to take to the counter. That was another big problem at Radio Shack, at least when I worked there in the 80's - inventory. It was all done by hand, and while it's no big deal to look at 4 big speaker boxes and see that you have 4 speakers in stock, components were another story. At least 80% of our inventory time was in the components, because every single package hanging on the pegboards would have to be counted. Every single magnet in the box of them on the shelf. Inevitably, this is when you'd find a pack of 220K resistors as the second to last pack on the peg for 100K's or some such nonsense, meaning time taken to rearrange the items and go back and change the previous count because you found one more. A vending type machine would already have live inventory counts. A busy store might have 2 or more units, a slower one, just one.

 

Offline SteveyG

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #42 on: June 06, 2016, 01:18:50 pm »
Neither do resistors/capacitors/connectors/most small electronic parts.

(But the hardware store I'm thinking of also has lots of delicate little washers and things in the bins.)

Technically thin film resistors do. ESD damage is a common occurrence 

Offline starphot

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #43 on: June 08, 2016, 04:22:33 am »
  Finding things in the correct bins, even at Ace Hardware is difficult as well. That has always been a problem. RS did have a good national parts department, but sold that to the separated Allied Electronics. National Parts warehoused parts for RS brand of merchandise for us at the repair centers and also supplied those little parts in the baggies to the stores from a different vendor. The parts that went into the repair units in our shop did not resemble the same part values hanging on the rack in the stores. These people were quite efficient and we did get the parts quickly. They did do some automation at this facility in the 20 years I worked there. We also got common parts, cleaning supplies, soldering irons, etc from a local vendor rep who comes in and checks on us every other week. The Repair parts for the name brand units was from MCM or the designated supplier of that certain brand name.
  Different management style back then made the stores profitable. Then came the computerized POS (Point Of Sale or Piece Of S***, take your preference!) system that changed the management style as they can now check on stores and repair centers on an hourly basis instead of waiting for the weekly reports. That caused a lot of micromanagement by middle management. Most of the good old-style store managers quit in frustration before I was laid off in 2001.

Joe
Analog-Digital
 

Online The Soulman

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #44 on: June 08, 2016, 01:16:21 pm »
+1 for the 24hr parts fending machine, also have a actual store with a actual technical person to sell tools and equipment and
is capable of giving use full advice i.e. not a salesman.
And also put something like this next to the (placed outside) parts machine:

http://www.pizza-automaat.nl/

 :-+
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: History of Tandy & RadioShack
« Reply #45 on: June 08, 2016, 01:21:46 pm »
+1 for the 24hr parts fending machine, also have a actual store with a actual technical person to sell tools and equipment and
is capable of giving use full advice i.e. not a salesman.
And also put something like this next to the (placed outside) parts machine:

http://www.pizza-automaat.nl/

 :-+
What's the cardboard content?  :o  :-DD
 


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