The DIY Movement Is Bringing RadioShack Back From the Dead

Independently-owned franchise stores are the second coming of the beleaguered brand.

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Jun 4 2018, 5:49pm

Image: Shutterstock Composition by Samantha Cole

In the last three years, RadioShack has filed for bankruptcy twice and closed nearly all of its corporate stores. But in the wake of the former retail giant’s death, independently owned franchise versions of the store have reinvented the brand and are actually doing pretty well—they’re even expanding.

Earlier this year, a location in Pocatello, Idaho, a small city in the southeast corner of the state, attracted a crowd of 250 people when it opened. The owners, Vern and Dalyn Murray, already owned a location just up the highway in Blackfoot, and have had so much success with the new location, they told the Idaho State Journal that they’re considering expanding to a third store.

“We’d like to even grow into other cities,” Vern said. “RadioShack is back. We hope to one day be able to grow the brand again.”

Rather than focusing on landline phones and remote-control toys that lined the shelves of RadioShack’s past, many of the independently-owned stores have shifted focus to offer supplies for makers and DIY enthusiasts.

As maker and hacker culture has expanded, along with the right-to-repair movement, more average consumers are interested in buying esoteric parts like tiny screws and solder. As our editor-in-chief noted back in 2014, RadioShack can actually compete with online retailers like Amazon on this front because of the immediacy (you don’t want to wait days to get that final part you need to finish your project) and the collaborative nature of maker culture.

“Do-it-yourself — that’s a big part of what Radio Shack is now,” Thad Teel, the owner of a Radio Shack in Claremore, Ohio that opened in April, told the Claremore Daily Progress. “Someone who tinkers in building or repairing anything electronic will find us an invaluable resource for parts and tools.”

After years of eulogizing the once mammoth electronics dealer, it seems that RadioShack may actually have a chance to return from the dead.

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