A while back I wrote a “Wake-up letter to Radioshack”. Since then, Radioshack made a substantial progress in the direction of being more appealing to the maker community, but now it is about to fail and go out of business.
If you scroll through the comments on a recent Hackaday post “Ask Hackaday: What Can Save RadioShack?”, you’ll see that most opinions gravitate around two main ideas:
1) Let it fail. Radioshack had it chance to restructure. Now it failed. Let it go !
2) Radioshack must restructure , give up its line of consumer and cell phone goods and instead offer:
– products used by makers at competitive prices, no crazy markups and unnecessary (costly) packaging
– provide shelf spaces for online retailers such as Adafruit, Sparfun, etc
– consider a franchise model where the store managers have more control over their store and can adapt to local markets. Give up the centralized model that so many former employees complain about.
– make Ship-To-Store arrangements with part providers like Mouser and Digikey, so you can order online and pick at Radioshack next day . Now if you order overnight a $1 part, you pay most of the money to UPS/Fedex. Radioshack can get bulk overnight orders and then distribute to customers. It can also observe what parts are ordered most and stock on those.
– offer services that makers can use: Laser Cutting , 3D Printing, CNC milling , etc
– offer classes and seminars to educate public and thus create a new market
I agree with both opinions and I have a solution for both parties. Let it fail and let it rise again.
Let’s look at the root of the problem ? Why Radioshack did not go with the maker direction and now is about to fail ? The main problem is it the shareholders of the Radioshack stock – they are not makers ! This has to change.
My idea is to have a Kickstarter campaign and buy-off Radioshack. As bold as it sounds it’s not an impossible idea. I suggest that the campaign is run it two stages:
Stage 1. Raise money for a legal team. Let’s face it – buying off a multi-million company is not easy, but not impossible in our times !
Stage 2. Create a business plan for the new company and run the actual campaign to raise money to buy off Radioshack.
Stage 3. Congratulations you’re now the proud owner of a slice of your local MakerShack !
What if it fails ? Believe it or not , even if it fails , this campaign will send out a strong message to Radioshack (or to whoever is going to buy it off) – the Makers are here and that is how much they are ready to invest in this idea.
Who should run the campaign? I would suggest that Hackaday does it. If they can send people to space, I am sure they can do this ! The important thing is that we don’t have multiple campaigns, this would dilute the results …