RadioShack – There’s something happenin’ here, what it is ain’t exactly clear

I wrote a post about radio shack two years ago, wondering how they could compete long-term and being skeptical of their prospects.  Their stock was trading at $17, on a high after Julian Day took over the reigns and was promising a turnaround.  Now, 23 months later, the stock is at $11 and, to be honest, I’m still just as skeptical about the likelihood RadioShack will be around 5 years from now.  Despite trouble with their business model, there is something going on at RadioShack stores and its a good thing for the Consumer.

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Radio Shack seems to be deeply discounting many items in their store, bringing local prices down to match some of the best online prices.  This is great for consumers if they happen to discount the item you are looking for.  I’ve been to my local RadioShack twice in the last week, browsing for Christmas items.  I found a 10.4″ SmartParts digital picture frame for $99, the same price as Amazon.com and steeply off the $248 list price.

In addition to the picture frame (which they had just sold out of), most of their radio controlled toys (great gifts for kids) were 50% off.  GPS device prices rivaled those that I saw as promo sales on Black Friday.  I even saw a brand new 17″ flat panel LCD for $109.99, at least $50 less than a similar unit at Staples or OfficeMax.

I can’t imagine RadioShack is going to make any significant profit on these items which means I still don’t think they can stick around for very much longer, but its a great way to get people into the store and an even better way to rebuild their brand as a great, super-local alternative to Best Buy, Target and Costco.

If you haven’t stopped by your local RadioShack lately, it might be worth swinging in.  Let me know your opinion on Radio Shack,  think they have a sound future ahead of them?

Planning Ahead Can Save You Big Bucks

I’m guilty of wasting money.  It used to be that buying local meant supporting local business and encouraging entrepreneurship.  Today, with the dissapearance of the mom and pop shop and the proliferation of the big box stores, buying local just isn’t what it used to be. 

The main reason to buy local now is for convenience and, that convenience comes with a hefty tag.  For example, a few weeks ago I was looking for a new book on Programming Ruby for work.  The book was $39.95 at Barnes and Noble down the street from me (didn’t have it at the local Borders), but only $26.37 at Amazon.com.  The reason I strongly considered buying it at Barnes and Noble?  Immediate Gratification.

Waiting 3 days would save me $13 on this purchase alone.  The same thing happens but on a much more costly scale around Christmas time.  I try to buy more and more locally made items around the holidays, realizing most of my loved ones don’t really care about the latest gadget, but sometimes you do need to buy the mainstream item, be it a new MP3 player, fancy coffee pot or power tool for dad.

Buying these items locally just doesn’t make sense.  You can’t easily compare against other models, you’re often stuck with what is in the store.  You’re almost guaranteed to pay full retail price for it or sacrifice the model you want for the model that is on sale.  For these items, there is really only one option.  Online.

If you’re feeling adventurous and don’t know what to pick up, visit woot.com, midnightbox.com or foxsfour.com for a few great deals served up once a day. 

If you know the category you are looking for, browse Amazon, pricewatch.com or buy.com.

The thing I need to get in the habit of is breaking down and buying things early.  It is October now and it seems ridiculous to shop for Christmas gifts, but it’ll ease the stress of the holidays if you do it now and you may even be able to get a better deal.  Your friend’s and family’s interests are unlikely to change much in the next few months, so, unless your shopping for kids or teenagers that may crave the next big fad due this holiday season, buying something that is in vogue now will likely be just as appreciated in the holiday season if you had waited until the malls were packed and the prices were at full retail!

Hot Gift Ideas for This Holiday Season:
Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator

Factory-Reconditioned DEWALT DC4CPKAR 18-Volt Ni-Cad Cordless 4-Tool Combo Kit

Pinzon Bamboo Cotton Towel