Wow. Thank you to Make Magazine for pointing out the fact that, in an ad, RadioShack has recently re-committed to serve electronics hobbyists.
I remember, as a child, when I used to travel with my family on vacation–we would pass through a town and I would declare that it was “livable” when I verified that it had a Radio Shack. It was an ongoing family joke, but of course, there was some truth in there.
I lived for the new releases of the RS catalog each year. I would plan my purchases and was eager to see when highly sought after radios and accessories would go on sale each month. My first pocket AM transistor radio was a Realistic (the RS brand name on their radios at the time). My first crystal radio kit came from RS. My first digital shortwave radio was purchased at Radio Shack. The local store manager knew me by name.
Most of all, though, Radio Shack had an extensive collection of small electronic parts/components that I would use to build projects or repair my electronics. Long before the internet, RS was my lifeline. Where else would I find a 2 cell AA battery holder, small incandescent bulb or tiny servo in my small rural town? Those were the days.
Times changed, though. In the past few years, RS has focused more on consumer electronics–especially mobile phones, computers and TV/Satellite services. I noticed that in corporate stores (not as much in locally-controlled franchise stores), the electronic components sections were getting smaller and smaller.
So, I believe we can thank the Maker community for RS’ new commitment to carry components for the hobbyist.
Okay, Radio Shack, let’s see you go back to your roots. Perhaps my home town will become “livable” once again? One can certainly hope.