Category Archives: Retailers

RadioShack has a new owner who wants to make it “cool again”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Don (W7SSB), who shares the following story from Forbes.com:

Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV), the retail acquisition company that bought Pier 1 and Modell’s Sporting Goods out of bankruptcy and snapped up the Dressbarn brand after it liquidated, has a new rescue mission: Radio Shack.

REV announced the deal today [November 19, 2020], making Radio Shack the seventh brand it has bought in less than two years.

REV’s strategy is to buy struggling, but well-known retail names it believes can benefit from their e-commerce expertise. In the world of online shopping, according to REV founders Tai Lopez and Alex Mehr, the brand you’ve heard of beats the one you’ve never heard of every time.

“It’s a trusted brand and we buy brands because of the trust,” Lopez said.

Why makes Radio Shack trusted?

“First of all what creates trust is to be known,” Lopez said. So even though Radio Shack has been mocked as the place where old cassette tape players, transistor radios, and personal CD players went to die, everyone has heard of it.

“”Every brand goes through phases of love and hate, but what we care about is it’s known. We can revive it on top of the high awareness that already exists,” he said.

Radio Shack, Lopez said, may actually be the best known of all the REV acquisitions. “This is our first truly global brand,” he said. Radio Shack at its heyday had stores throughout Europe, in Japan, in South America, the Middle East, and still has some international stores.

[…]“I’m hoping that they’re going to make it a broad consumer electronics portal and platform, where not only do they sell the myriad Radio Shack brands but they also are a go-to place for many other electronic brands as well,” he said. He sees the potential for Radio Shack, with an updated e-commerce presence, to aspire to become the Wayfair W +1.6% of electronics.

Lopez agrees that Radio Shack has a lot of room to grow into many new product areas.

“We’re interested in potentially having Radio Shack laptops, having our own flat screen TVs,” he said. “We want to expand it to anything consumer electronics, home, the phone business, home security. We want to go really broad.”

Garriques and his company’s background in electronics – he is a former president of Motorola Personal Communications, and former Global Consumer Group president at Dell who began his career at Bell Labs – should help with that expansion.

[,..]“Whatever was cool again once is becoming cool again, again,” Garriques said. “I think Radio Shack can ride that.” And that is what REV is betting on.

Click here to read the complete story at Forbes.com.

While I doubt RadioShack will dive back into the world of electronics parts, shortwave portables, and ham radio transceivers, it is interesting that someone is trying to resurrect the brand. Thanks for the tip, Don!

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End of an Era: Universal Radio is closing shop

Universal Radio’s showroom at their previous Reynoldsburg location

While I’m very happy for my friends Fred and Barbara Osterman as they head into a well-deserved retirement, I’m very sad that Universal Radio will be closing.

I’ve been a Universal Radio customer since before I was a licensed ham radio operator. They have been–and are to this day–the one ham radio radio retailer that still specialized in shortwave radio receivers.

Fred and Barbara have generously supported numerous radio clubs, organizations, and non-profit organizations throughout the years and are simply some of the nicest people you could ever meet.

Fred and Barbara shared the following message with their customers:


Dear Friends Of Universal Radio,

Time waits for no one, and that includes Barbara and myself. We have decided to retire and our current location in Worthington
will close on November 30, 2020. Even though the store is closing we will fulfill all existing customer orders and have a large amount of inventory to close-out. The Universal Radio website will be maintained for the foreseeable future to sell this remaining stock, publications and some select products. Unfortunately the lack of a store front showroom will preclude us from carrying some manufacturers’ products.

I am very fortunate to have been in the radio business for over 50 years, 13 at Radio Shack and 37 at Universal Radio. We have met many wonderful people along the journey who have supported me personally as well as Universal Radio. It has been a privilege to have a continuous career in the fascinating field of radio since 1969.

Please accept our sincere “Thank You” for your support of Universal Radio
for these many years, and for the months to come.

Our new address for correspondence and mail order is below.
This is not a store front.

Universal Radio Inc.
752 N. State St. Unit 222
Westerville, OH 43082

Phone: 614 866-4267

Thank you.

73,

Fred Osterman N8EKU
Barbara Osterman KC8VWI


Thank you, Fred and Barbara, and here’s wishing you a very happy retirement!

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EladUSA now selling the Perseus with factory support from Microtelecom

Many thanks to Paul Jones with EladUSA who notes that they now sell the venerable Microtelecom Perseus via their online store. Paul also notes that each purchase comes with full factory support from Microtelecom. Price is $760 US.

Click here to view at EladUSA.

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Microtelecom Perseus SDRs at Ham Radio Outlet

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Brian Penney, who writes:

I saw your post about the availability of the Perseus SDR. They are still available brand new through HRO. I ordered one in the fall of 2019.

HRO said they were getting them new from SSB-Electronic GmbH in Germany.

Click here to view at HRO.

Thanks for the tip, Brian! The price is quite competitive at $749.95 US as well–certainly the best option for those of us living in the US.

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Jack had a technical question…Eton gave him a detailed reply

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jack Kratoville, who writes:

I was once big into Grundig; I owned the YB-400PE, 550, Traveller II, Mini, finally settling on the G5 as one of my favorite radios. I looked at the G3 and probably got a bad one – sold it on eBay. When the G2 “Reporter” went on sale, $35 closeout at RS, I grabbed it. The worst radio I ever owned, so bad I returned it. A radio that had sold for $150, down to $35, and I still wanted my money back. I moved on to Tecsun and C Crane.

Recently, a friend in eastern NC had the Executive Satellit (silver) and had no use for it. I took it to the backyard, then to Atlantic Beach and was very impressed. This receiver was hitting all the right user buttons for me. I was reminded of what the G3 should have been, a decent upgrade to the G5. Aside from solid performance on all bands, the Executive Satellit provides better dial info (no big fan of orange display that goes poof when off), analog volume, decent speaker (second only to the Digitech AR1780) Sync & SSB, plus very quick scanning. And… a Line In/Out! I’m thinking here’s most likely the last of the Grundig (and Satellit) lineage and they finally hit a home run!

Well here’s where I’m reminded of how weird radios from Eton can be. I like bringing along my mp3 player for when I’m bored of band scanning. I have a JBL Flip 4, but now here was a single unit that could cover all the bases for me on a quick trip. I activated the Line In, plugged in my Sansa Sport and knew right away one of the stereo channels was missing. I looked up the manual and it said the Line In was 3.5mm stereo. I called Eton. Unfortunately, the service department (I remember Walter, who knew more about those radios than most) no longer exists. The woman I spoke to tried to explain there was only the mono speaker and after as simple an explanation I could manage, she said she would get back to me.

In a few days, she did and said, after consulting a colleague, I was right. The jack is stereo, but only produces the right channel. I wrote back saying “I felt this was a serious design flaw and why in the world would anyone design a radio like this?” I figured that was the end of our email exchange, but then I received the following:

———-

Jack,

My colleague tells me that the reason the implementation was done this way is that the internal speaker amplifier, which is also shared as the output driver for the headphones is set up as a stereo-in / stereo out configuration. This works well for the line input to headphone output scenario as both L & R channels are separated within their respective connectors. Since this internal speaker amplifier’s outputs are shared between the mono internal speaker and the stereo line output jack the summation of the signal for that mono speaker would result in the summation for the line output jack as well. While this would be OK, a L + R mix for the internal speaker it would cause the user to also have a L + R mix for the line output for both line input and radio applications. In order to maintain the stereo line output for the radio signals we cannot sum the two channels together at the output of the amplifier. The only way to fix this would be to add a summing op-amp on the line input side or summing speaker amplifier on the output side, neither of which were chosen by the designer due to board space, power consumption and cost consequences. A more simple “dirty” way to sum the input would be to buy a short 1/8″ female to 1/8″ male cable, cut that cable open in the center and then short the L & R signals together and place it in-line between the source device and the analog line input on the Satellit. This is not ideal but would work to crudely mix both L & R input signals together.

We apologize that we do not have a more elegant solution for this product.

Regards,

Eton

————–

Wow! I thanked her graciously for a full and detailed answer.

So now I attempt quick fixes like stereo to mono to stereo adapters and it overloads the input. I can turn down the source, but I lose a lot of volume. (And trying to compensate with the radio’s volume is not a viable solution.) I’m also not one to open up this unit with soldering gun at the ready.

Therefore, to those with far greater knowledge, understanding and electronically more inclined – is there a way to create a cord that would give me L+R at proper line-in volume/level? (Rerecording over 5,000 songs to mono would be a real pain.)

Thanks in- advance for any suggestions – and kudos to Eton for providing above and beyond standard customer service.

Thank you for sharing your Eton customer support experience, Jack. That was indeed a thorough and sincere reply!  I’m hoping someone in the community here can help you with ideas for a patch cable/adapter.

If you can help Jack, please comment!

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Mendelsons preparing to close?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric McFadden (WD8RIF), who notes that George Thomas (W5JDX) visited the iconic surplus/parts store Mendelsons in Dayton, Ohio.

George spoke about his visit on HamNation and plans to air his tour and interview with the owner on a future episode. The owner did mention that they plan to close the store possibly within a year. Here’s the video clip from HamNation:

Click here to view on YouTube.

This would be a true loss for anyone in the Dayton area who enjoys building and making things. Mendelsons is so much more than a radio parts store–their selection is vast. In fact, that’s an understatement. It’s mind-boggling…gobsmacking! 

I took a few photos inside Mendelsons in 2017 when I visited the store with friends (that’s WD8RIF in many of the shots!):

As George mentioned in the video, if you haven’t visited Mendelsons before, you do so soon. And plan to be there for multiple hours–it’s quite the pilgrimage!

Click here to visit Mendelsons online.

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Guest Post: A visit to Tokyo’s Akihabara district

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and word traveler, Chris Johnson, who shares the following:

This past year while traveling for business in Japan I decided to explore a district within the city limits of Tokyo known as Akihabara or better known to locals as the “Electronics District”.

After jumping off the train I found my senses bombarded by a cacophony of sounds and enough neon from the street to the sky to put your senses into overload. The streets were crowded and the stores were filled with every modern electronic device known to man.

Click here to watch video.

My imagination ran wild, I started wondering what this place would have been like in the 1970’s when some of the most cutting edge electronics were CB radios or shortwave receivers, the different brands, models etc… Perhaps some of that still existed here so I started wandering the streets and found more of the same you would find in a big box store but multiplied by 10, overwhelming.

Just when I was ready to give up the search I turned the corner down a side street and discovered a red awning with “Tokyo Radio Department Store” emblazoned on it, I felt like I discovered a lost treasure amongst the modernity.

I walked through the main entrance and was immediately drawn down a maze of narrow corridors that were staffed with small stores and stalls that sold electronic parts both popular and obscure, it was incredible. That was just the first floor with 3 more above to discover, I thought to myself if I ever wanted to build a transmitter this is the one place in the world where you could shop and find all the parts you need.

As I ventured up the narrow stairs to the floors above once again I felt like I found a treasure of gold, before me were shelves and displays crammed full of radios, some I haven’t seen in many years and some from the recent past .

This was like a Hamfest and eBay together under one roof. Truly incredible as you will see in the pictures below. I couldn’t get close to some of the ones wrapped in plastic but maybe a sharp eyed enthusiast can Identify them. I highly recommend anyone traveling to this part of Asia to check out this hidden gem you will not be disappointed.


Thank you so much for sharing this photo tour, Chris! I mean…WOW! There are so many radio gems here. I see some classic solid-state receivers, ham radio transceivers and even valve gear I’ve never seen before. Amazing!

Thank you for taking the time to share your tour of the Akihabara district of Tokyo!

Post readers: Please comment if you’ve ever visited the Akihabara district or any other “Radio Row” districts in the world. please consider sharing your photos!

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