“Shakeout Victims” From Harry Dent

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“On August 1st, This Once Iconic American Retailer Will Stun Shareholders”

That’s how the latest teaser ad from Harry Dent gets us interested — Dent has been around for a long time, and his predictions and books and newsletters have usually had their basis in demographics … stuff like predicting that the market would boom in the 1990s and crash in 2010 because of the Baby Boomer retirement wave.

So much of his stuff will sound perfectly compelling, and does have that basic rationale of demographic change behind it — but of course, as we’ve seen from the last 20 years there’s a lot more to “bubble and bust” than relatively simple demographic changes. I haven’t read any of his things over the last couple years, but he has a promo out now predicting the demise of a couple iconic firms who are going to be victims of the next “shakeout.”

And naturally, I thought you’d like to know who they might be. So we dug into the clues.

He’s trying to sell subscriptions to his Boom & Bust service … here’s how he positions the ad for you:

“… we believe the Main Street media and many Wall Street pundits are setting millions of hardworking Americans up for huge financial losses.

“They want you to believe the worst is over… that, except for a few bumps in the road here and there, we’re well on the road to recovery.

“Let me warn you: that’s NOT what my research says…That’s why I’ve prepared this urgent presentation.

“But please also understand there’s a tremendous upside to what’s about to unfold over the next decade and beyond.

“After all, when you’re able to know what’s coming – and position yourself accordingly – the years ahead could be very prosperous times.”

He’s talking about a ‘historic economic shift’ underway now that will impact investors for decades — and drive three big name companies into bankruptcy this year. Here’s more, in his words:

“I believe these three companies will announce they’re bankrupt in 2013.

“The first announcement that I see coming will take place on Thursday, August 1.

“And this will be just the beginning of a wave of corporate failures that will send the economy into a tailspin and the Dow plunging.

“Why am I so certain?

“Because the one thing – that’s about to devastate these companies – is the most powerful and destructive economic force known to man….

“A ‘survival of the fittest’ battle is coming that will determine the leaders for decades to come…

“A few companies I expect to survive and thrive through the shakeout include Amazon, Wal-Mart, Kia and Toyota.

“… we are rapidly reaching “high noon” for a handful of companies and industries that have become inefficient and have overcharged us for far too long.”

The “big picture” part of this is a theory of cycles that he shares with us — there are, we’re told, “seasons” to the cycles of the global economy … and naturally, right now it’s “Winter” … here’s how he puts it:

“Right now we’re five years into what I call ‘The Winter Season.’

“It’s a time to hunker down, regroup … a time to ‘shake out’ the excesses of the previous boom so that a new ‘Spring Season’ can begin.

“Nature has an order of things.

“And as I’ve learned through my 30 years of researching economic cycles and demographic dynamics – so do the markets and the economy.

“Every cycle we have studied in history has four seasons – just like our weather.

“And for several centuries these seasons have been as easy to predict as the annual weather cycle.

“They contain two very different booms and two very different busts.

“They are:
SPRING: The Innovation BOOM.
SUMMER: The Inflationary Bust.
AUTUMN: The Maturity BOOM.
WINTER: The Deflationary Bust.”

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Well, if that’s true then it’s certainly been an interesting Winter, and it doesn’t seem like the seasons are anywhere near being equal lengths if we’re going by the last ten years or so, but it does give one a certain comfort that there’s a logic to the cycles of the economy. Maybe false comfort, I don’t know, but sometimes I’ll take whatever flavor of comfort I can get.

So that’s the basic pitch — this deflationary bust is making way for the next innovation boom, and it’s going to take some companies down with it. He expects the Dow to plunge and says to get out by the end of June, and to get out of gold and silver before the deflationary bust that is apparently still part of this winter that’s been five years chilling us already. His other big picture advice includes selling any extra real estate, downsizing your life right now, convert foreign currencies to dollars, refinancing any real estate you’re keeping, and look at municipal bonds if you want income … though he thinks that US Treasury Bonds will be the next great investment, starting as early as next year. That’s pretty contrarian, given recent optimism about the economy, so we’ll let you chew on that on your own.

But we’re heading back to the headline — the one stock he says is going to declare bankruptcy in a matter of months. Who is it?

“You know this business well

“If you drove by a shopping plaza or walked through a mall lately, you’ve seen this business.

“You’ve probably bought something from them before.

“It’s been a vital cog in our economy for over 90-years, and has over 4,400 locations in the United States alone.

“In short, it’s one of the largest companies in America – with operations in all 50 states and over 34,000 employees.

“But on August 1st, it will reveal that it’s looming bankruptcy.

“You see, that’s the day a $375 million loan that it likely won’t be able to payback comes due.

“Already, the company eliminated its dividend last July.

“It’s replaced its Chief Executive Officer… its Executive Vice President of Operations… and its Executive Vice President of Strategy.

“It has negative net profit margins… negative free cash-flow… and earnings that don’t even cover interest expenses…There’s just no way it can come up with the money by August 1st.”

Well, that one is not a name that will surprise most of you: RadioShack (RSH), a disaster of a company that’s been through a few makeovers and reorganizations over the years (including one that was temporarily successful in 2005-2007), and is now mired in trouble again.

They do have more than 4,400 locations (a lot more, if you included dealers and “store within a store” wireless phone shops) and 34,000 employees, and they’re unprofitable, and their debt is about equal to their market capitalization, and business looks pretty weak no matter what metric you use. As you’ve probably noticed if you’ve walked by a RadioShack lately, these days they mostly sell electronic novelties and cell phones, and if they don’t sell a lot of extended warranties and extra batteries for those cell phones, which are the same ones sold in the Verizon store or the AT&T Store or the (also in trouble) Best Buy or online, then they can’t possibly make any money. So unless the demand for remote-controlled frogs and helicopters spikes among the mall-strolling populace, it’s hard to see a bright future for RadioShack.

I haven’t been following the company closely, but from what I can tell there isn’t much of a turnaround plan in place — and even if there were, it’s hard to see them implementing it very successfully in such a competitive marketplace and with a brand of such rapidly declining importance. Electronics and accessories are just such an overwhelmingly competitive sector, with ubiquitous availability, that they’d have to develop something really new to stand out — and they don’t seem to have the cash or the DNA to move that quickly or aggressively. They recently lost their Target “mini stores”, but on the plus side they did also ink a deal to get some of their brands into College bookstores to try to boost revenues — investors seemed to like that deal, and the deal to get back to the DIY electronics business a bit more with their collaboration with Maker Media, though it’s hard to see either one of those deals being monumental enough to shake up the company’s trajectory.

So yes, they’ll probably go out of business if they don’t have a big makeover in the next couple years — I don’t know if it will be with this next debt maturity, which is indeed August 1, since the stock did just pop in recent months as folks are apparently betting that the company won’t disappear overnight … but I wouldn’t bet on the long-term future. You could sell the stock short or buy put options against the shares if you’re convinced that the stock will collapse, but with interest rates so low and their huge retail network there’s always the possibility that someone will either want to take them over or rescue them to keep that network up and running, or even that the banks and bondholders will roll the debt over.

They already have a huge short position, with 40% of the float sold short, so it might be tough to short it even if you wish to — but if you think the stock will fall by more than 30% before August there are plenty of put options you could buy to bet on that possibility, and they’re not as expensive as you might guess for a stock with a short interest this high (it’ll cost you eight cents a share to buy a $2 put option for August, which would mean the stock has to fall in half by mid-August to make you a profit).

I wouldn’t lend them money, but that doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Their 2019 bonds have been rising in price over the last few months as the stock market rose, so they now trade at $80 or so for a 10% yield — which is certainly “junk” territory, but it’s not where you’d expect to see a bond trade that’s in imminent danger of bankruptcy.

So that’s one of Harry Dent’s predictions — the imminent demise of RadioShack. I’d agree on the basic trend for that company, but don’t know if their next debt maturity will really bring bankruptcy in August … I’ve run out of time for today, but we’ll dig into his other two “Shakeup” victims tomorrow if you’re interested. Whattya think, anyone want to invest in or bet against Radioshack?


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56 Responses to “Shakeout Victims” From Harry Dent


  1. Some years ago, Radio Shack had a mass layoff, in which they let everyone know if they were toast via cell phone text message Real nice. I have avoided going into a Radio Shack whenever possible since then.

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    • There’s some stuff you just can’t find anywhere else any more, and RS is crucial for that. But all the “normal” stock is so overpriced I would never shop there except for those odd batteries I can’t find elsewhere.

      Like(1)

  2. still can’t think of the last time I ever visited a radio shack , maybe 8 years ago for a Christmas present ( gift card, which now i can get online or just bitcoin my nephews ! ) . Yes , I would have to agree that they are not ‘keeping up” with the other retailers of electronics. and people are worried that IF they buy, the guarantee’s and warrantee’s that were promised ,will not be there in a few months. Still , too bad , another one bite’s the dust and so many people out of a job again.

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  3. I have long thought they should change their name to Radio Snack, and sell fast food instead of eletronics!

    Like(1)

  4. Used to go in their for “techy” stuff. Last time I did that they didn’t have what I needed.
    YEARS ago we used to get the free battery every month; always got D cells for the kids flashlights because they would never last long anyway.

    These days I’m afraid no one would miss them.

    I suppose one of his other “soon to disappear” companies is JCP?

    Roger.
    InvestLetters.com

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  5. So sad about RS, but then I cried when Lafayette Electronics bit the big years ago, too.
    It happens. I will miss it for small parts. I think it started selling large stuff and lost its focus.
    Who else sells etching acid and printed circuit boards now? Sad.

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  6. What will REALLY put the ‘icing on the cake’ for RS and many others will be 3 D PRINTING.
    I see 3D printing about where the naissance of the Model T was when Henry Ford began mass production.

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    • Harry Dent has made so many wrong calls, he might be best used as a contrary indicator. I was employed at ING in 2000, and Harry was the keynote speaker at INGs sales conference that year. I was in the audience as Harry confidently predicted DOW 36000 by 2008 or 2010. There have been a number of other horrible calls. I’m surprised that he is still able to persuade people to buy his newsletter.

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      • Maybe Harry Dent benefits from people thinking he’s the character Harvey Dent from Batman; I know I have to stop and think for a second!

        :)

        Roger

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        • I don’t know what he said in 2007. I do know what he said at the Reliastar sales conference in 2000, which was conveyed in my original Email. A prognosticator that has been dead wrong for several years is legally allowed to change his prediction and still sell his claivoyance to the public, so I would guess Harry eventually threw in the towel.

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        • Also there’s Arthur Dent from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If that were written today it would be called “How You Can Profit from the Coming Total Destruction of the Earth.”

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      • He did not call for 36000 by 2008. He actually predicted that the market would tank in 2007. And he made this prediction back in ’94. The book he wrote was “The Great Boom Ahead”. His predictions in that book were pretty amazing. In that book he said we are going to struggle until 2021. If he did make that call at a conference it would have been completely contrary to his book.

        Like(1)

      • I agree Robert,
        He’s been way off in his timing of current events which is why I’ve termed him
        ‘Broken Clock Harry.
        Irregardless, gold and the Dollar are now performing according to his predictions.
        The next 2 or 3 months should tell us what we need to know….Especially if gold,
        which has now hit a double bottom, proceeds on downward to break 1320.

        Like(0)

        • I have heard Harry speak. He uses the Dow 38,000 prediction (made by others) as an example of people who are not paying attention. His prediction was for the markets to fall dramatically during that time period – which they did.

          As for Harry’s timing being not exact, what do you expect. While demographics is by far the largest trend setter, the Fed and government policy also have impacts on timing, which is what is happening today. Their policies do not change the ultimate outcome, they just delay it.

          I suggest people read Harry and make up their own minds – it will open your eyes.

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          • John,
            As I mentioned, I think Harry Dent will now be proven correct short
            term as gold will probably head downward and the Dollar upward.
            What frustrates me the most about him is his assertive persona that
            many other prognosticators like Casey, Celente, etc, project likewise.
            They all seem to believe they must use this ‘schtick’ to expand their
            audience but when the timing falls thru, they just go on with new
            predictions without confessing their faux pas.
            If u’ve really studied up on the founding of the Fed Reserve, then
            u understand just how powerful these Globalist Elites are and the
            tremendous power they possess covertly.
            Demographics may be a very powerful fundamental tool but
            there are just too many ‘black swans’, ‘Trump Cards & Jokers’
            out there.
            I highly recommend Bill Still’s youtube documentary ‘Secret of Oz’
            and I review it every few months.

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          • Here’s another Dent eye-opener from a yr ago John:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSOGwthC_JQ
            A debate w/ Jim Rickards. Dent definitely gets steamed
            but it’s an enjoyable ‘heat’.
            He sure blew it on gold recently; Just b4 gold plummeted
            again, good ol’ Broken Clock Harry reversed himself
            and said it was time to BUY!
            He should’ve stuck w/ his original prognosis….
            Looks like gold may indeed get down to a thousand
            or even 700!

            Like(0)

  7. Travis, please put this on your calendar and tell us on August 2 whether Dent was right or not. I’d love to see you keep track of these “by this date” solicitations and keep score.

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  8. RSH has been “destined to die” for some time. That said, it is up over 100% since I bought it in November 2012. The income statement stinks, but the balance sheet is solid. I think liquidation value is well in excess of current market cap.

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    • I was so proud of myself for figuring out that it was RSH from clues Dent left. And, I was fired up about the prospect of buying put options before August, if there weren’t going to be too many others who figured it out… So, now you go and tell everyone who it is. Gee thanks! Oh, well.

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  9. Great article, and i can see them going down, but the niche they DO have that i haven’t seen anywhere else (I’m not saying this will keep then afloat) but for DIY’ers when u need something for an electrical gadget your making, they are the only place that Carries it. Although with the internet, i suppose u can find anything you want/need and then some, for your electrical projects. I do PI work on the side, and i make a lot of my own surveillance equipment with their parts, but how many PI’s are there, not many. And i can still find everything online to make what i need, or buy it already made from a new mom and pop online company i recently started using. What I’d like to know though is, did the gumshoe figure out the other two companies that are being teased. By the way, even when i do go in radio shack I’m the only customer in there. Not a good sign.

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  10. I wonder if I’m the only one here that remembers when they (Radio Shack) were Tandy Leather Company. Sold DIY leather project kits back in the early 70s. That was before they got into electronics and computer gadgets (But then computers were a long way off at that time). Radio Shack, I don’t think will disappear but will have to down size and get back to basics, and reinvent itself eventually. Today their retail pricing and quality of product line is not popular in most areas. Just my humble opinion.

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    • Not the only one, Wayne. I bought leather from RS and a brass riviting set and made a leather case for my LLoyd’s calculator that I bought from SEARS ROEBUCK for $169. It could do TRIG functions, Wow! Never made a belt though.

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    • They are 2 different subcompanies both owned by Tandy Corp. Where we had them in a shopping center, they were 2 separate stores, Tandy Leather is now moved across town but the Radio Shack is where it always was. My g’pa owned another sub-store of Tandy that was located between them, it was called American Handicrafts, The original hobby craft store.

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  11. I’m also going to miss RS if they go belly up. I don’t know of any other place to get small bulbs, capacitors, resistors etc. I suppose I’ll just have to join the rest of the “throw away” crowd.

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    • Nope Leona, Just join the internet congregation like the rest of us.
      I used to be a co owner of a rare book store next to the U of Wash.
      The Internet did us in just like it’s doing to so many other businesses.
      If ya can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em….
      Still sad.
      But 3D Printing does REALLY excite me!

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  12. RS oh my where will I get my batteries.
    Just want to clarify this 3D stuff. It is not printing anything. What you have is the ability to create solid objects by an extrusion process, computer 3D software controlled.
    In my day we called it “pattern making”, tedious using wood and metal by craftsman.
    Sorry to be so anal–that’s the engineer in me.

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  13. Don’t understand why in an economy the size of the U.S. that the demise of Radio Shack heralds the end of the world. Lots of big companies go under and the economy lives to see another day. In any case, in Canada, Radio Shack (also known as The Source) was also in deep financial trouble. Bell Canada Enterprise bought it so as to increase their retail footprint. The stores seem to be thriving or at least off the front pages of the business section of the paper. Perhaps there is a similar savior in the cards for Radio Shack in the U.S. That being said, I don’t live in the States so I don’t know the U.S. retail market and the store-front strength of the various telecoms in the U.S.

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    • Radio Shack going under does not herald the end of the world, it is one small sign post on the way there. It is the reduced spending habits of the retiring 92 million boomers that portends economic grief ahead.

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      • Lafayette Electronics and Heath Kit…were the top dogs and Radio Shack was cheap junk. And the Top Dogs didn’t make it years ago dealing in small electronic parts. Now in todays disposable world, what niche does Radio Shack fill?? Same as Sears/ JC Penney… once they killed their catalog their customers started going elsewhere. They never have parts even if you do visit the store, so now they sell cell phones and that’s supposed to save them?? Please…They are a Dinosaur that has already wore out their welcome.

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        • I sure wanted a Heath kit minibike when I was a kid. Too much for my newspaper route to support. I had to build one from a bicycle frame and a lawnmower engine. Gee, I wish I still had that minibike…..

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    • Hi Lorne,
      I don’t think it heralds the end of the world as much as it is just another indicator of the economy. The loss of R.S. will not destroy the U.S. economy but it will be an iconic retailer that generations can’t remember a day without. Business comes and goes with the times. Radio Shack is no different. Blame it on the economy, management, or what have you, I don’t think wall street will fail because of the demise of Radio Shack. But in an uncertain economy, what’s next?

      Like(0)

  14. Years ago the place to buy radio equipment was “The Shack” Befor that it was where the world trade center was in Ney York, Radio row thay called it. Today most of the companies that mad those products that were sold by RS and others no longer exist. Remember the TV repair man and before that the radio repair man. These types of business are far and few. What did they call it “The Service industry”
    I buy a lot of small parts but find myself not going to RS because they no longer have much of that stuff. Besides, what they do have is pretty bad quality. I do find myself buying some items, things like bulbs, some relays and other small parts that are needed NOW. but I agree, their prices are very high when compared to many of the large internet electronic parts vendors. The main problem here in the USA is simple. We do not make much of anything here anymore and we fix very little of what we import. most products are designed for a defined life span and all of these seem to be imported. However, there are some manufacteurs making some good products and believe it or not you can actually get parts for them and fix them. Most of these companies are doing very very well. So it is not that people will not pay for and support good products made in the USA, there is just not enough of them. Also there is the balance of trade thing too. That just bogels my mind.

    Like(0)

    • Rob and John M,
      IMO, things are about to change for US manufacturing and our balance of trade, ‘Broken Clock Harry’, eat your heart out.
      To really get up to speed on 3 D Printing, you all need to spend a few hrs (or days) doing your
      homework.
      We’re on the cusp of a new Industrial Revolution that may turn out to be more
      important than the Internet itself!

      Like(0)

      • We may well be on the cusp of an industrial revolution with 3D printing. But all the previous major industrial revolutions took a decade or more to build momentum and attain a size big enough to influence the national ledgers.
        One more thing. When Harry makes predictions, he acknowledges the obvious: that other factors also play a role and therefore affect timing. Your example of the elites ruining the world’s financial system is a good one. They have delayed deflation temporarily (except in financial markets that make them super-wealthy).
        In the end, look at the big picture. It is entirely predictable. The only people who see “black swans” are those with their heads in the sand.
        As for Harry’s “assertive persona,” try to get over it lol

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        • Thanx John…Sage comments.
          OTOH: … You state:
          ” The only people who see “black swans” are those with their heads in the sand”
          But that’s just the problem; We can’t SEE Black Swans, only surmise.
          Perhaps u meant those who ‘predict’ Black Swans.
          If that’s what u meant, then we agree.
          G Edw Griffin does have a pretty good track record however…
          Still blemished but better than Harry and he goes back a lot further to the 50s.
          Short term, I go with Dent. Long term, i’d say Griffin and Still will be proven
          correct.

          Like(0)

        • Weeelll John…
          ‘Broken Clock Harry’ blew it big time once again when he told us to BUY GOLD!
          He should have stayed with his original prognosis which now looks like
          it’s once again unfolding.
          Of course the ‘Globalist’s still have some Aces and Jokers to play b4 the
          ‘house of cards’ totally collapses.
          One theory floating around presently is the IMF & FR are considering the ‘manufacture’
          of a ONE HUNDRED TRILLION DOLLAR ‘Tax Bond’.
          That could temporarily bolster the world economy until more of the population
          becomes dependent on the govt as Lindsey Williams has predicted for a year.
          One other scenario to consider is the proposal Putin made back in 2009 for a
          total rebooting of the entire system. That makes the most sense of all imo.

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  15. I had Radio Shack for the first one, Best Buy for the second one, unsure about the third one, maybe Sears ?

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  16. Recent comments from Lindsey Williams;
    ” The Elite Want To Drown The World in Debt Before Collapsing the Global Economy”
    ” We Will See The Collapse of All Paper Money in a Period of two years Maximum The Elite are working for a date of the collapse of all paper currencies , it could be in a year or in a year and half , what happened to the banks in Cyprus will happen to New Zealand Japan Australia Canada and even America , you better get your money from your pension fund bank account retirement account , IRA , 401K or you will lose it all overnight
    -The Federal Reserve is making some huge financial moves that will drive the USA deep into debt and decrease the buying power of the dollar. They will take them and use them as an investment in the derivative market. “They will hedge the derivative market.” They will fractionally reserve all the mortgages and turn the $40 billion into $360 billion and make $1 trillion of off mortgage debt in 3 months. The banks receiving the $40 billion will turn around and take this money and buy treasury bills. It will go towards paying the debt of the US, not to improve the economy. Basically, the FED gives the bank money which they give back to the FED and the FED ads fees and interests which drives up the debt more.

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  17. Every year I visited Radio Shack very close to Christmas to pick up nineteen $5 stocking stuffers for our family gathering. The salesmen would haul out stuff from the storage room that I had never even dreamed of before. He always had one of something interesting and two of something else. Now where will I go?????? I can’t search Amazon for items I don’t know exist.

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  18. And I miss going in for my Free Battery each month. I went in, got my battery and spent $10 on junk because I felt guilty taking one of their batteries for free. Somebody ressurect Lafayette Radio and Heathkit, please… and make catalogs to dream about stuff you have to have.

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  19. The Onion had a great article about Radio Shack back in 2007 with the title “Even CEO Can’t Figure Out How RadioShack Still In Business” – one of the funniest pieces I’ve read. I just searched for it online and read it again and still laughed. The interesting thing is that it seemed as relevant then as it does now. I know it’s The Onion but the article makes sense and doesn’t seem far-fetched to believe that’s what then new CEO really thought or what the new one might be thinking, I just wonder how they weren’t gone shortly after I saw the article the first time.
    If they want to stay in business they need to let you buy a $2 capacitor or resistor without spending 15 minutes at the register (and that’s if there was no line when you walked up to it!).

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    • “If they want to stay in business they need to let you buy a $2 capacitor or resistor without spending 15 minutes at the register (and that’s if there was no line when you walked up to it!)”
      SPOT ON!
      Probably the biggest reason they’re going under.

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  20. Fond memories of scrimping and saving for my DX160-looking at the RS catalog dreaming of the day when the entire world could be listened to with my shortwave and a long wire. Nothing romantic at all about the internet.

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  21. I remember when radio shack first came to town in Flint, Mich. They carried everything and had generally decent prices. Things remained that way until they ran every other small electronics store out of town. Then they started raising prices and eventually cut their inventory to the bone. I do not like radio shack and maybe stop once or twice a year if they are the last resort. No tears here for their failure.

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  22. What ever happened on Aug 1?
    I must have built 2 dozen Heath Kits, may still have a few in storage somewhere. Every thing from resistor substitution boxes to 150 watt audio amps and 5″ triggered sweep oscilloscopes. I was sad to see them go. When Chinese labor made it cheaper to buy a finished product than to build a kit no one noticed that you lost the knowledge gained when building a kit, but then who uses that knowledge any more?

    Like(0)

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