We'll need a new analogy. For years, people were stunned that both Abe Vigoda and Radio Shack were still alive. Thankfully, Tessio is still going strong, but we've seen the end of Radio Shack.
Radio Sh ack lost its relevance in the early 80s when IBM PCs became mainstream and the early adopters moved on from TRS-80s.
And while it never found its footing again, the sad thing is that there's an emerging opportunity that would be a great fit for Radio Shack, had it been able to reinvent itself.
The one thing that made Radio Shack special in the 70s and 80s was that their staff were tinkerers. You could ask them all kinds of questions and get real answers. Long before there was a Maker community, you had makers and tinkerers behind the counter and as customers at Radio Shack. And while most technology today is fairly simple and doesn't require use of a soldering iron nor following detailed instructions, there is a nascent market where those skills would be perfect: Smart Homes.
The Smart Home market is in its early phases. And it's complicated. Sure, it's pretty easy to install a Nest thermostat or a Dropcam camera, but which smart lock should you buy? How about the garage opener? Can you replace your expensive alarm system with a DIY version? And do you need a hub? Can you control it all with one platform or do you need multiple apps?
While it's easy to buy any of this gear online, it's still pretty confusing, even for technically savvy early adopters.
There are several retailers chasing the space, notably Home Depot, Apple, Lowe's, Staples and others. Yet none of them seem particularly well-suited for the space. Have you asked questions at a Home Depot or Lowe's lately? Apple will make elegant products, but you can't bring your house to the Genius Bar. And Staples? Really?
Smart Home gear would have been perfect for Radio Shack. You don't need a massive big box store to show it. You just need well-informed staff and an area to educate and showcase. They could have either provided or partnered with a provider of home installation services, to make it easy for people to adopt the new technologies. The typical Radio Shack employee might not have made the leap, but they could have engaged an entire new generation of tinkerers to want to work there.
But instead, the Shack decided to focus their efforts on selling mobile phones and overpriced phone accessories, driving it to irrelevance.