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The Shambling Corpse of RadioShack Is Rising From the Grave

Illustration for article titled The Shambling Corpse of RadioShack Is Rising From the Grave
Photo: Mario Tama / Staff (Getty Images)

Retail Ecommerce Ventures, a company that buys and resurrects old brands as e-commerce sites, has bought a number of RadioShack’s global assets, rocketing the defunct brand back into the spotlight once again.

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According to a release, REV purchased the assets for an undisclosed amount and is exploring bringing back some beloved RadioShack brands. The company plans to reboot RadioShack.com in time for its 100th anniversary next year.

“We were impressed with both the strong existing sales and sales potential of the Radioshack.com and related websites across the globe, including the U.S., Canada, India, Australia, Europe, and China,” said Tai Lopez, REV co-founder. “Our approach builds off the existing strength of extraordinary brands such as RadioShack and supports our mission of transforming these beloved entities into Internet-first companies.”

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REV also owns Pier 1 Imports, Dressbarn, and assets from the Franklin Mint, all companies at least familiar to the boomer/early Gen X cohort, many of whom likely remember these brands fondly. RadioShack, founded in 1921 in Boston, was once famous for its Tandy computers and battery club that let budding tinkerers get free 9-volts and D-cells with every visit. They started out as a source for HAM radio parts and electronics and eventually focused more on mobile phones, clock radios, and other fast-moving gadgets.

RadioShack went bankrupt twice, once in 2015 and then again in 2017. The company fought mightily against Amazon and Best Buy as its once-ubiquitous stores closed across the country at the end of the last decade.

REV bought the rights to the RadioShack brand in the U.S., Canada, India, Australia, Europe and China, along with related websites. REV also acquired RadioShack’s patents and private label brands,” said a company spokesperson. According to the Wall Street Journal, it also owns the slogan “You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers,” a motto created to fight back against Best Buy’s Geek Squad in 1994.

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John Biggs is a writer from Ohio who lives in Brooklyn. He likes books, board games, watches, and his dog. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Gizmodo.

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DISCUSSION

Unless Radio Shack goes back to selling niche components that hobbyists need, or they merge with a company that is already doing well, they’re doomed.

I personally miss Radio Shacks, they were wonderful places where I could get a lot of oddball electronics that nobody else sold, not to mention, the ability to have components in my hands faster than shipping can provide. Unfortunately, there’s not enough customers to sustain that niche that ONLY Radio Shack can provide.

When I read that the company buying them up is called “Retail Ecommerce Ventures” you don’t have to tell me twice. This is Venture Capital. It’s the same shit as Sears, K Mart, Toys R Us, Circuit City, etc. Companies that still, somehow cling to life, but have been slowly dying for decades.

How does it work? Venture Capital isn’t looking to revive any brand, they’re looking to milk it dry while they skim small profits off the top. They put just enough money in to keep the lights on, use the storefront to make retail-like profits, take out numerous loans, and file chapter 11 when it fails.