RadioShack said Tuesday that it has opened its first branded “shop-in-a-shop” — a 12-foot wall of 250 consumer electronic goods, from batteries to headphones — at the University Co-op store at the University of Texas at Austin.In all, the Fort Worth-based retailer said it will have RadioShack-branded merchandise walls at 10 university stores nationwide this year and eventually expects to expand to 500 in collaboration with NACSCORP, a subsidiary of National Association of College Stores.The Austin co-op had sought such a concept for years, said Brian Jewell, its marketing director. “We had a need but didn’t have an answer,” Jewell said. “Our students are looking for these products — cables, batteries, headphones — and that would have required us to find many vendors. But we don’t order that much.’When NACSCORP unveiled the program, the co-op jumped at it, he said. “This was the answer we were seeking. We can really market ourselves, telling students they don’t have to go to the malls or the big-box stores, and they can get the same quality, same service and same type of pricing here.”If the merchandise wall gains traction, Jewell said, the RadioShack section can be enlarged with a free-standing kiosk or fixture. “It’s very scalable.”RadioShack’s new chief executive, Joe Magnacca, said the initiative comes as the ailing consumer electronics chain is trying new approaches for a turnaround. It follows a new concept store that opened last week in Manhattan.“The college consumer is one of the most-connected consumers out there, and what better way to introduce the reinvigorated RadioShack brand to this audience than to go where they are and give them what they need to make their technology not only work for them but to make their lives more fun,” he said.“Nontraditional locations like this one at the University Co-op can serve as a gateway to a new generation of consumers for RadioShack, where we can begin to stake our claim as being the go-to source for the technology they need.” Aside from its private-label items, the college store walls will also offer such goods as Beats by Dr. Dre headphones and AUVIO Bluetooth.
Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718 Twitter: @bshlachter