24 Karat Corner: Been to a Radio Shack lately?

More than likely, probably not.  Years ago, I was a regular Radio Shack customer.  It seemed there was a store in just about every town.  You could count on them for that hard to find battery, a connector for your stereo, or any other electronic gizmo you could need. I’m sure that over the years, my alarm clock, calculator, answering machine, CD player, and probably plenty of other electronics I’ve long forgotten about, all came from The Shack.  Now, I get all of these functions, and more, on my I-phone.

Somewhere along the way, Radio Shack short-circuited. A decade ago it had over 7,000 outlets; today it has about half that number, and it is continuing to shrink.  Kids just aren’t buying speaker wire, transistor radios, and UHF antennas like they used to. The company that at one point was one of the nation’s leading electronics retailers never saw it coming, and when it did, was too slow to react. 

Clearly, they could have benefited from one of the most valuable lessons I learned in business school: If you are in a poker game for more than 15 minutes, and you don’t know who the pigeon is, it’s you! How could they not have seen that their bread and butter was being devoured by new technology? Didn’t they realize the phone in their pocket made the merchandise on their shelf obsolete? I would love to go back to business school in a year or two when they roll out the case study on Radio Shack and learn how they got their wires crossed so badly.

We’d all like to think this could never happen to us. Yet, how do you know if your merchandising skills are up to date? Are you familiar with all the latest synthetics and how to identify them? Do you know your way around a laser, CAD/CAM machine or 3-D printer? Maybe its time for a little education up-grade.

The 24 Karat Club offers a number of scholarships to help retail jewelers improve their skill set. Applicants must be nominated by a 24 Karat Club member. Applications and full information about the various scholarships are on the website www.The24KaratClub.org. So, if you, or someone you know might benefit from a marketing course, gem course, or technical course, The 24 Karat Club is here to help pay the way. Many of our members will be exhibiting at the JCK Las Vegas Show, so feel free to ask one of us how you may qualify for these opportunities. 

And, on the outside chance that you feel that your skill set is just fine, drop in at your local Radio Shack (if its still around) and ask the manager how he feels about his future right now. Or, even better, I invite you to pull up a chair at our next monthly poker game. We’d love to have you!

If you are attending the Vegas Show this year, safe travels, and we look forward to seeing you there!

Howard Kelrick is President of Finger Mate and a  board member of The 24 Karat Club, SEUS.  Finger Mate manufactures and installs expandable ring shanks and sells to retail jewelers throughout North America. Contact Howard at 954-458-2700 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..