America’s Radio Shack is no more (remembering Tandy stores)

I see that the US electronics store Radio Shack filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on the 5th of February 2015. The demise of Radio Shack had long been predicted and its demise was long and lingering.

The news reminded me of the former British subsidiary of Radio Shack that used to have stores on the the high streets of larger UK towns and cities. These went under the name of the parent company, Tandy. I whiled away many happy hours in a Tandy store in my youth perusing the shelves of electronic components and kits. Many of their own brand products were labelled Radio Shack giving a link to Tandy’s American sister stores.

Tandy were generally more expensive for components than the mail order companies that advertised in magazines like Practical Electronics, and as fascinating as their paper catalogue was it was minuscule compared to the giant Maplin mail order catalogue.

Tandy’s fortunes dwindled in the UK and they struggled to remain relevant. It came as little surprise when it was announced that all the stores had been sold to Carphone Warehouse who quickly closed them and refitted them as Carphone mobile phone shops.

The Ironic thing is mail order electronics supplier Maplin have been busy opening physical stores around the country filling the very niche Tandy would have fulfilled if they had kept their eye on the ball.

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