Greenberg: My Hate Affair With RadioShack
SAN DIEGO (TheStreet) -- After seeing RadioShack's (RSH) horrific fourth quarter results, including a challenged balance sheet and its last-ditch and latest survival plan, which includes shutting 1,100 stores, it dawned on me:
I live within seven minutes of two RadioShacks. Twenty-five minutes of seven. And probably an hour of dozens.
And therein lies its problem with its too-little-too-late attempt to turn things around: I don't go to RadioShack to buy milk or bread or get our prescriptions filled.
I don't need the convenience of a RadioShack.
And when I do go, with the notable exception of buying a burglar alarm battery that went on the fritz overnight -- something only they have -- I almost always walk out empty handed.
Much of what RadioShack used to stand for, the little esoteric electronics stuff you couldn't get anywhere else, can be (and should be) bought online. The economics of that stuff, as Radio Shack's increasingly death-spiral performance shows, simply doesn't pay. And they don't carry the stuff many of us want. And the sales help -- and this is a big generalization and no disrespect to the many hard working Radio Shack employees -- is hit-and-miss, at best.
Going to RadioShack is almost always a hollow experience.
Me: "Do you have XYZ?"
Reality: The concept of RadioShack is like a 1960s strip mall that hasn't been touched since the 1960s. I mean, even the name, "Radio" -- really? It's a model for a different time. Closing 20% of the stores is the start of what I believe may be a trend. Oddly, the fewer stores, the more Radio Shack will need to become a destination, like Best Buy -- and we already have Best Buy (for now!).
Even with its remodeling attempt, as Brian Sozzi noted today on TheStreet, nothing has really changed but the packaging.
RadioShack has been one of the great, perennial woulda, coulda, shoulda turnaround stories -- and at one point it was, with its stock peaking, especially going into the market peak of 1999 and then again in the 2007 timeframe. I'm sure it'll get yet another boost with a surprisingly good quarter somewhere along the line.
I once thought maybe Amazon.com (AMZN) would buy RadioShack and use it for local distribution and same-day deliver. In retrospect: What a hare-brained idea. Let's face it, like a trusted old horse, maybe it's time to put RadioShack out to pasture -- or, better yet, out of its misery.
-- Written by Herb Greenberg in San Diego