I will always be a Fort Worth girl, no matter where I roam. I’m also unapologetically a huge geek – and always have been. The intersection of those two data points make me one of the saddest to hear about the death of Radio Shack. The hometown company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday after eleven consecutive quarters of losses.
I had high hopes when the brand relaunched its new 21st century stores (announced by an award winning Super Bowl ad in 2014, I although I got to see the new design early when the corporate flagship store opened across the street from my office in November 2013).
But alas, the reboot didn’t take. It seems that today’s consumers don’t want to drive to Radio Shack to buy their GoPro cameras or tech accessories. And even the firm’s repair services for cracked iPhone screens and other mishaps or their ability to sell cellular service plans for major providers was not enough to drive traffic.
While the company wasn’t started in Fort Worth, it was a fixture there after Charles Tandy (of the Tandy leather products origins) bought the company in the 1960s. Most of those raised in Cowtown felt the influence of the company in a variety of ways.
Some of the relics of Radio Shack are already long gone but embedded in my memory…
* Riding the old Leonard’s Department Store “subway” downtown to the old Tandy Center to
go ice skating go study at the public library after school.
* Seeing the twin Tandy towers lit up with multistory “candles” on the downtown skyline at the holidays.
* Playing computer games on a Radio Shack “kit computer” attached to a black & white television in the early 80s.
* Learning to program in several languages on a TRS-80 in my school’s computer lab.
* Being a Tandy Scholar and attending the annual awards dinner. And later being celebrated by the company as one of our hometown’s National Merit Scholars.
I’m sad to see an important piece of Cowtown’s business history die – the one that carried us beyond cattle and oil and defense and made us a player in the early days of the Silicon Prairie.
RIP Radio Shack. You’ll always have a place in this Fort Worth geek girl’s heart.