RAYMONDVILLE — Two years ago, it seemed like there was a RadioShack every few blocks in cities across the nation.
But that changed in bankruptcy, and the more than 5,000 RadioShack stores across the United States at the company’s peak has dwindled to around 400 franchisee-owned stores which still operate today.
The number of brick-and-mortar stores may not increase, but there’s good news for fans of RadioShack who have struggled to find transistors, cables and more to fill the needs of their businesses and their hobbies.
This week Retail Ecommerce Ventures announced it was picking up the RadioShack brand and will resurrect its website for online sales. REV also bought up Pier One’s brand, as well as Dressbarn and Modell’s Sporting Goods out of bankruptcy.
“The way it is right now, when you don’t have enough stock, or they don’t have enough inventory to replenish us, sometimes we’re allowed to get it from somewhere else,” said Julio Garcia, who has owned the RadioShack store which still operates here for 20 years.
“Now with the new change, what they’re telling us is this company called REV that’s going to take over, they’re going to be very strong when it comes to online sales but they’re going to also support us,” he added. “That’s the understanding.”
COVID-19 has changed a lot of things for retailers, and here at the RadioShack in Raymondville it also has presented new opportunities, particularly with kids staying home to take classes online, said Kelly Constante, who has worked at the RadioShack at 207 E. Hidalgo Ave. for almost three years.
“During the COVID it’s been pretty busy because we have the computers and all the essentials for that, so that’s what’s really been going is our computer stuff,” she said. “Anything for at-home.”
Constante says she still has some regular customers who continue to come in for electronic components for repair businesses or other needs.
“We have a gentleman who comes in here a lot for the resistors to fix the TVs that he does,” Constante said. “I have another one who comes in who does a bunch of little projects with circuits and stuff. We do have some regulars who come in. And then we do bills (bill-paying), so that’s a constant business for us.”
With the closing of Walmart here, being able to pick up a computer or router or the necessary cables locally is a pretty big deal in Raymondville, particularly for adults now working from home or those with kids going to school online.
“Raymondville’s a small town but the people over there and around in the county, which is Willacy, when they need something like cables, adapters or routers, we’re still the only place over there that they need to go,” Garcia said. “We have the basic things that they need like cellphones and adapters and computers and stuff like that.”
Constante said she thinks the closest RadioShack still operating is in Matamoros, but her Raymondville store still gets calls from people searching desperately for a Shack.
“We get a lot of them calling in, ‘Is there one in Brownsville?’ ‘Is there one in McAllen like we used to have?’” she said. “’No, we’re the only ones now.’ They’re like, ‘OK, we’ll have to drive all the way that way.’
“We’ll be here!” she tells them.