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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.

While I'm waiting for my Arduino kits to show up, I started reading the Getting Started With Arduino book from O'Reilly (review coming later) and I'm about 40 pages in when I get to a parts list for one of the first projects. Looks pretty straightforward, and even has Radio Shack part numbers next to almost everything.

So on my lunch today, I decided to run out to "The Shack" (seriously, that's their rebranding?) to pick up some basics, like a couple resistors, a breadboard, a momentary switch and a pack of pre-cut jumper wires.

I found the resistors without any difficulty, and while they didn't have the exact switch I wanted, it was easy enough to find one that would do. That's where my good luck abruptly ended.

I was surprised that I couldn't find a breadboard or any jumper wires, so while I was looking around, a guy came up and asked me if I needed some help. I told him I did, explained what I needed and even gave him the Radio Shack part number for the pack of jumper wires. After a couple minutes he says he can't find anything in the system, which was unfortunate but not the end of the world. 

So then I asked him about the breadboard, and he pointed me to some blank circuitboards (which are not the same thing) and I said (nicely) that those weren't breadboards and attempted to explain (again) what I needed, at which point he says to me "I don't even know what the hell you're looking for!"

I stood there for a moment and tried to process his words. About that time, another salesperson came up and asked what I was trying to find. I told her I needed a breadboard, and she pointed to the blank circuit boards and said "they're right in front of you..."

After seeing the look on my face, she thought for a minute and said... "OH! you mean those white things. We don't have those anymore."

I thanked her, set everything down on the counter and left. (I wasn't going to buy only half the stuff I needed.. and I was pretty sure I was never going to be buying ANYTHING at that particular location ever again.)

Guess I'll be ordering more stuff online at this point.

It's a shame really, because I used to LOVE going to Radio Shack as a kid, and looking through all the cool electronics components and stuff, even if I didnt understand what most of them were at the time. Seems like the only thing they carry in any quantity/variety now is cell phones and random stereo connectors.

Posted on Thursday, February 3, 2011 1:39 PM Electronics Hacking | Back to top

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Comments on this post: Misadventures at Radio Shack

# re: Misadventures at Radio Shack
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This happened when RS tried to focus on cell phones and consumer electronics than doing what they do best: parts, tools, ham radios, scanners, etc. I worked at RadioShack when I left college in 98-99 and that was right around the time they made the switch. I still remember when we took stuff like breadboards, analog multimeters, solar panels, etc. off the shelves and the techies stopped coming by. It has gone from The Shack to The Shit in about a decade. You have to order everything online now, and they want your name and address to sell you a AA battery.
Left by David Galloway on Feb 04, 2011 8:02 AM

# re: Misadventures at Radio Shack
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Hey - glad to see you caught the Arduino bug too. I've been playing with it too... And I have the same feelings on the Shack. I grew up buying kits, books, parts from that store growing up. Now, it's just another consumer electronics store (and not a good one). It's so annoying that we have to order all the parts online these days. Maybe if I move to a bigger city, I can find a proper shop that still carries real components. *sigh*
Left by Rich Quackenbush on Feb 08, 2011 7:49 AM

# re: Misadventures at Radio Shack
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That's too bad. When I was in school in the early 90s, getting my E.E. degree Rat Shack was our best source for all kinds of gear.
Left by Tom on Sep 28, 2011 6:19 PM

# re: Misadventures at Radio Shack
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They have Arduinos at Radio Shack now. This is telling of Arduino success, not about Radio Shack's future. I'm certain the teenager behind the counter doesn't know what it is. There is no sense in expressing joy at being able to pick one up over the counter. The clerk wouldn't know what you're talking about. I order from Jameco.
Left by magaphoto on Dec 14, 2012 7:10 PM

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