Radio Shack, the vintage electronics brand that turns 100 next year, has a new majority owner, the … [+]
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, 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.
REV acquired the brand from the investment group that has owned and managed it following the second of two bankruptcy filings. The investment group will retain a minority stake in Radio Shack.
Unlike other recent REV retail acquisitions, which were in the process of liquidating when they were sold, Radio Shack had a functioning website, and a network of 500 independent stores that license the Radio Shack name, and sell Radio Shack branded products That will make it easier to get the REV relaunch up to speed quickly, Lopez said.
While REV typically prefers to have 100% ownership, the minority partnership in this case made sense, Lopez said, because the current owners have knowledge of the electronics industry and electronics sourcing, and deep relationships with manufacturers.
Ron Garriques, CEO of VEYEP Holdings LLC, which headed the investment group that owned Radio Shack, said the owners liked REV’s plans for boosting Radio Shack’s online performance.
The investors want to retain a stake in the brand, Garriques said, because of the growth potential given REV’s e-commerce track record. “I truly believe they’re going to do great things with it,” he said.
“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
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.
“The ability to create a broad portfolio for them is something that we bring to the table, he said.
Since REV was founded in 2019, they have also acquired the rights to the Linens N Things brand, the housewares retailer that went bankrupt and closed its stores in 2008; coin and collectibles seller Franklin Mint; and United Kingdom-based book retailer The Book People.
Lopez and Mehr are also co-founders of FarmersCart, an online site that sells meat and other food and household products; and Mentorbox, a subscription service for business and self-development books and courses.
Radio Shack was founded in Boston in 1921 by brothers Theodore and Milton Deutschmann to provide equipment for amateur ham radio operators.
Radio Shack has been mocked in the past for being the last place to find vintage electronics such as … [+]
Garriques said he sees a lot of the same do-it-yourself tech spirit that fueled the growth of Radio Shack for its first decades present in young consumers today, and he believes that spirit, with the right e-commerce support, can revitalize the brand.
“For nearly 100 years now, Radio Shack has been bringing cool technology for very specific, common sense purposes. And I think that’s still true,” he said.
Those that knock the brand as a seller of out-of-date tech should get to know today’s Radio Shack, he said. “If you go into a Radio Shack stores, there’s window sensor for your alarm system, there’s drones kids can get for the holidays, there’s radio controlled cars with bluetooth speakers. We are sourcing out of the latest and greatest stuff that’s out there,” he said.
“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.