RadioShack reminded us all why we love it last month with its '80s-themed Super Bowl commercial — but it wasn't enough to reverse the tide of poor sales. The retro retailer, whose roots are in providing components to build ham radios, plans to close 1,100 of its U.S. stores, it announced this week.
Here are a few ways the retailer could reinvent itself.
1) Appeal to maker culture.
Limore Shur, founder of the creative design agency eyeball, suggests RadioShack could reposition itself by going slightly higher-tech — while staying loyal to its DIY roots — by appealing to the DIY tech movement known as maker culture.
"It would seem they have a great opportunity to build off their history as a supplier of relevant materials to make electronics," Shur said.
Instead of trying to compete with big-box stores to sell the latest headphones, RadioShack should fill a niche need for customers looking to modify their 3D printers, fix their interactive LED screens, make their GoPros fly and build drones, he said.
"How great would it be to go into RadioShack and get a kit to fix your (or your daughter's) shattered cell phone screen?" he asked.
And to remove any lingering relation to the analog age, Shur suggests perhaps a change of name is in order: "MakerShack." Even the White House is going to stage its first Maker Faire later this year.
2) Make them all concept stores.
One area where RadioShack has shown growth has been with its Concept Stores, which it said aim to "attract tech-hungry shoppers who will find a new level of products, service and excitement in a store that makes the buying experience fun."
Those stores highlight what RadioShack calls "in-demand" brands like Apple, HTC, Beats Electronics and Samsung and include fixtures like a Speaker Wall to let customers compare products — you know, like a modern-day retail store.
3) Get Jeff Bezos to come knocking.
Quartz first suggested last year that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos should buy RadioShack outright. Now, seeing as the company's market value is below $300 million (for reference: Bezos paid just $250 million for the Washington Post), it wouldn’t be out of the question.
Bezos could take it a step further and turn the store spaces into Amazon "locker rooms," hubs for Amazon's locker delivery service that are also sports merchandise retail stores. Bezos could forge partnerships with local sports teams, letting customers pick up their Kindles or "Cards Against Humanity" games along with their Knicks tees or Chargers hats.
4) Become a mobile phone company.
As writer Steve Cichon very cleverly pointed out at The Huffington Post, every single item in a RadioShack newspaper advertisement from 1991 (with the exceptions of the three-way speaker and radar detector) can now be replaced with a few taps of your smartphone:
Everything from this 1991 Radio Shack ad you can now do with your phone http://t.co/fR02qq9K5A
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) January 16, 2014
So why not move to become a mobile phone company?
5) Go online-only.
RadioShack could cut costs by going online-only and get rid of the physical locations entirely by selling them to the likes of Starbucks.
The coffee giant bought tea company Teavana last year and opened its first tea bar in New York. Now, Starbucks plans to build 1,000 tea bars in the next 10 years. Why not make it 4,000?
What do you think? What should RadioShack do?