They're described as "eccentric, mad-scientist RadioShacks" and they're full of gadget guts, cables, and parts you won't find in the average, corporate-owned locations. Run by "RadioShack nostalgics" who want to keep hobby shops alive, these stores are shrines to tinkering.
Our minds are on the past because Wired has a wonderfully sentimental piece which revolves around Andy Cohen and the evolution of RadioShack. Cohen is a man who owns and operates one of the rare, eccentric, franchise-based locations we barely realize still exist:
[H]is shop is a lone outpost; in a single generation, the American who built, repaired, and tinkered with technology has evolved into an entirely new species: the American who prefers to slip that technology out of his pocket and show off its killer apps. Once, we were makers. Now most of us are users.
Head over to Wired and give the piece a read. But don't forget to come back and share your memories of the doodads and thingamagigs you once tinkered with. I'll be here waiting and daydreaming of my first soldering kit. [Wired]