RadioShack goes down, but fighting

The Radio Shack store on West Berry Street with a clearance sale sign in the window.
The Radio Shack store on West Berry Street with a clearance sale sign in the window. Star-Telegram

Bankruptcy may have overtaken Fort Worth’s RadioShack on Thursday, but not without a long, hard fight by the company’s executives, managers and employees.

The bankruptcy court will sort out what happens next. The company has 683 workers at its headquarters off West Belknap Street and another 344 at a distribution center on Terminal Road.

RadioShack also has more than 30 stores in Tarrant County and about 4,000 company-owned stores in all.

The company is selling 1,500 to 2,400 stores to Standard General, a New York hedge fund. Sprint plans to set up operations inside as many as 1,750 stores in an alliance with RadioShack, but Sprint’s name will dominate.

Hundreds of stores will probably liquidate their inventory and shut down.

Fort Worth business lion Charles Tandy bought Radio Shack (the RadioShack brand is a latter-day combination) in 1963, added it to his Tandy Corp. leather goods holdings, and built an empire.

The company made a name for itself selling electronics parts, components, cables and specialty items, but it was also an early leader in ushering in the computer age.

Its TRS-80 was a hit among computer early-adopters, the Model 100 one of the first laptops. Tandy Corp. later opened a computer assembly plant in north Fort Worth.

For a while, Tandy and RadioShack rode a wave. Its stock price peaked in 1999 at $90.56 a share.

Later years were less kind, but still the company worked to innovate and change with the times. CEO Joseph Magnacca joined RadioShack two years ago, developed a new retail strategy and secured $835 million in new financing.

New marketing efforts included an attention-getting commercial aired during the 2014 Super Bowl, depicting RadioShack’s new look and customer appeal.

Part of the plan was to close 1,100 under-performing stores. Analysts saw the wisdom, but key lenders did not. From then on, the struggles deepened.

Magnacca said in a third-quarter earnings report that “there can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully implement our long-term solution.”

And sure enough, they couldn’t. But what a bunch of fighters.