RadioShack has been in the retail business for almost 100 years. The end isn't nearly as promising as the beginning.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, RadioShack—which filed for bankruptcy twice in two years—closed over 1,000 stores, leaving just 70 corporate locations and 500 dealer stores in operation across the U.S. Throughout the weekend, the consumer electronics retailer announced a liquidation sale that played out on social media. Social media represents a new plot twist for America's dying retailers: How do you toast a brand's final days when the world is watching?
RadioShack opted for unadulterated bleakness. The company's social media handle on Twitter shared photos that depicted the sale of store fixtures, $25 grab bags stuffed with items pieced at $5 apiece, and deeply discounted printers. Here are some tweets that highlighted the carnage.
RadioShack, which generated nearly $6.3 billion in revenue at the company's peak in 1996, saw sales sputter to under $3.5 billion less than two decades later as it failed to respond to the migration of consumer spending to online channels like Amazon.com.
Electronics were one of the earliest consumer product categories to sell strongly online, resulting in price transparency that made it hard for physical retailers to compete. Best Buy has done a better job innovating to stay competitive, partly because it has focused on services to help it differentiate from the crowd.
But RadioShack, which operated over 7,300 stores at the company's peak, will now only have 570 stores in total after the Memorial Day weekend closures. The press release it issued ahead of the weekend was equally bleak: "We all remember coming into RadioShack whether it was for the battery-of-the-month, new walkie-talkies, or to check out the newest RC toy cars. Many of these nostalgic items will be up for auction over the next 30 days."