SEANFX

Media Rants, Podcasting, Filmmaking, Production, Design

Get Your Geek On Radio Shack

Let Your Geek Fly!

I have a bit of advice for Radio Shack and it’s current struggles.  Let’s be honest, I don’t think you can compete with the electronics stores of today and Amazon.  But you can go back to your roots and get your geek on.  Yes you will have to close some stores.  But you have to look at what made you, you.  All those little parts on the wall that the normal consumers would never know what to do with them.  Don’t you even remember where your name came from?  I do!  If you think you do put it in the comments.

Radio Shack you need to go back to your roots and help everyone’s inner nerd shine.  You still have all those same parts there but only the die hard users know that.  Even to me when I walk in all I see is a cell phone kiosk.  You used to be so much more than that.

  Here’s what I would do.

    1. Go FULL ON NERD!
    2. Hold tech clinics right in the store!  Help your customers build robots, electronics and computers from scratch. Nerds should know how to do that blindfolded. (hum that might be a good contest…)
    3. Put 3D printers and other rapid prototyping devices in your store for people to use and try out.  Maybe you become a real test lab before they buy.
    4. Hold invention contests.  Help them invent and create new stuff. Go all Apollo 13 on stuff. Sell grab boxes and say make something with this, promote the heck out of that!  There is a new nerd movement growing jump on and ride.
    5. Mentor programs.  You know how many older hackers go into stores or at least use too?  What a great way to put an older person to work giving advice and working with young people.  What if they could pass their knowledge down to new hackers?
    6. Partner with Life Hacker, How, DIY Networks and let them build shows around your parts and products.  You’ll be able to sell kits for things you’ve couldn’t have dreamed up on your own.  Then you can show them how it’s really done.  Don’t you see the new age of DIY?
    7. Connect!  I mean really go all out on video and audio connectors and adapters.
    8. Maybe even partner with a coffee or snack shop encourage people to come in and hang out, test, learn and build.

When I was a teen I loved Radio Shack. I loved it when the new catalogs came out, it was my “Sears” catalog.  Let me tell you I spent a lot of time there, so much time there they offered me a job right out of high school.  The manager figured I knew their products and I did!

Look at what I made when I was a teen.  Yes, I’ve kept it all these years.  I built this before I had access to anything like an internet and life hacking websites.  Luckily my Father is a Mechanical engineering and he was able to give me a lot of help and advice.  Every electronic part you see here I got at Radio Shack well other than a few parts I picked up at the local hardware store.

switchboard

This is a light board I build for when I was DJing and working with bands.  It was the low voltage lighting controller for the stage lighting system.  I even had LED indicators so I’d know which switch was on.

 

connection

This is where the telephone lines came in to the switch board.

 

pcboard

 This was the control board I made.  I know it’s not pretty or that complicated.  If I plugged it in right now it would still work.  You can still see the date I etched into the board when I made it.  1986.

 

relays

These are the relays I used to switch the lights on and off.  The great part was I only needed a few extension cords to power the lights.  The controls were near the lights and I ran the telephone line up to the control boxes.  So everything was a very light weight system.  Saving time setting up and carrying things around.

 Don’t forget the Audio and Video Connectors

Like I mentioned in option G. you (Radio Shack) has always been the best place to get connectors.  I could patch into anythings.  Play that up and expand that selection too.  You still can.  It’s my default place to go to get my gear connected up.  Here’s my tackle box full of connectors.  I guarantee every Film or video-maker, audio engineer has one of these.  I even have a mini bag for emergency audio/video patch jobs.  There some contests in there where you’d have people show off their boxes and try to connect things.

connectors

Radio Shack is for the REAL DIYer, it always has been and always SHOULD be.

I made stuff and not just kits I took the stuff off the walls of Radio Shack and I made new things out of it.  I learned a lot!  I learned how to make things, I learned how to make it look interesting and useful.  I learned how these part could work together and what they did. I learned how to use new tools.

I think you’re really missing an opportunity to double down and go real geek. Please don’t turn into a kiosk in the middle of a Mall selling iPhone cases and Bluetooth ear buds.  You’re better than that.  I learned so much when I was a kid.  Your stores made me feel like a mad scientist and it made me a better artist and product designer.

 

 

My First Longtail

image

As a teen I spent so much at Radio Shack they offered me a job. I learned a lot about customer interaction and building a reputation. One of the most important lessons I learn back in 1986 was my first “Long Tail”.   I wish I would have understood the importance of that day back then.

I think back to what the 80’s brought us, that miracle technology that now fits into our pockets. That’s right the cell phone.  Some of you might not remember back then they were as big as cinder blocks and weighed as much.  It would have been hard at first to have envisioned what they would become.

So what does “The Long Tail” have to do with Radio Shack?  While my Manager spent the entire day working on a big sale. Know this, one cell phone back then that was a big sale. About $1500 worth. Not to mention the cell service, installation and all the add ons! Well, while my Boss was working on that sale he kept taunting me with the idea he was going to break the sales record that day. While I toiled away on the writing sales tickets for capacitors, solder and blank tapes and the occasional free battery, he was full of pride at what this sale was going to bring him.

Here’s where the “The Long Tail” comes in. While we sat there counting the days sales I had a very large number of tickets way more than usual. The whole time the boss was entering the data the taunts became less and less as those tickets started adding up…  Well…

Clicking away he soon realized that I beat him by about 20 dollars. I know that’s not a lot but by the end of the day I had made more connections with people and moved more items. While he spent the entire day with that one costumer. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. You have to nurture those good customers and hold their hands sometimes. That’s what keeps them coming back for the big ticket items.

But while I thought it was cool that I sold more, it didn’t really make an impression on me till about a 2 years ago when I read Chris Anderson’s book “The Long Tail” and I started using iTunes extensively to start consuming media that really focused on my interests.

As an artist and sometimes filmmaker I very much see the importance of this lesson. Back then in 1986 it was much harder for me to try to make an impression. I had to work the entire room to make things happen. That was very time intensive and a lot of hard work. But today it’s not that hard to work the room or the world for that matter. What’s hard is making a good or dare I say great product. But it’s not hard to get it out there at least not anymore. The more you can get out the more you will learn about making a great product.  This can be anything, photography, e-books, cartoons, films, webseries, insert name of your product here _____________.

To get my films out there back then I had to go through the system of gate keepers.  Now the system is wide open for content creators of all kinds any kinds.

One of my missions with this blog will be to convince other people like me, artists, filmmakers and the like to forget about the system. Sure it would be great if they see your talents and some how bring you into the fold. But I say forget it those day are fading away.

I had recently picked up an issue of IndeSlate. Which is a great magazine about the Independent Filmmaker.  I enjoy reading it. What I don’t like reading is story after story of filmmakers holding on to their films for years. I’m not talking 1 or 2 but 5 or 6 waiting for that right studio deal.  I got news for you it might not ever come but it’s well within your power to make it on your own with blogs, re-cutting your film to be a webshow, digital distribution through Amazon, Jaman or Hulu.  Soon it will be TIVO, Boxxy, your wifi enabled BluRay player. It doesn’t mean you will automatically or instantly make an impression with an audience.  But it’s got to be beater than setting in a box somewhere waiting for that right deal and run the risk of no one ever seeing it.

The time you took looking for investors, distributors and the right deal you could be looking for an audience. Today those are your investors.  They are the ones that will keep coming back to buy your product.  Just like the relationships I built when I worked at The Shack. Those people came back.  Back then customer services meant something if you know how to treat people.  It’s the same with audiences.

What are you waiting for now?

If you want some FREE advice and ideas I suggest you go here and download the audio book you’ll find in the right hand margin entitled what else?  FREE

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