Saturday, April 04, 2015

RadioShack closing at Westwood Shopping Center in Bethesda (Photos)

Well, it turns out RadioShack - or its Mitt Romney/Bain Capital-esque corporate master - wasn't quite upfront with us in its plans for the chain of struggling electronics stores. After a mass closure of stores nationwide earlier this year, Hilco Merchant Resources, Gordon Brothers Group and Tiger Capital Group have now announced a new round of closures.

The longtime RadioShack at 5456 Westbard Avenue, alas, is on the list. By closing the Westwood Shopping Center store, and 360 others, the corporate partners say they will be able to keep "as many as" 1740 remaining stores open nationwide. I'd put the emphasis on the qualifier "as many as" at this point.
10-50% off can hardly
be described as a
liquidation sale

This will be a big test for Westwood Shopping Center landlord Equity One. They're said to be retail experts, and this will be the first major vacancy on this property since they took over. GNC was converted into a nail salon a couple of years ago, but this center has been otherwise stable for almost 30 years. After the initial purging of the national chain tenants and hardware store prior to that, in the mid-to-late 80s, there hasn't been much turnover among tenants. [That purge came after the original owner apparently was swayed by politicians' promises that Montgomery County would allow shopping centers to be redeveloped as urban mixed-use centers. Dr. Tauber did not live to see that promise come to pass, but the politicians' 1980s games led to the decline of MoCo retail centers such as Wheaton and Glenmont, as well as Westwood I and II. Landlords did not want to be stuck with long term tenants, if they would be getting the green light for demolition soon. Or so they thought. It was only in 2014 that the Wild West zoning changes were finally passed by a County Council with 8 of 9 members beholden to developers.]

In contrast, Equity One has so far been unable to fill the two most prominent vacant spaces at Westwood Center II across the street, nor the lower level space that's been vacant for several years after West River Deli closed. They've also lost Springhouse Manor Care at the nursing home property across Ridgefield Road this past winter, leaving a virtually-unheard-of vacant building in the 20816 zip code.

No major tenant is going to find moving into a building that may be demolished in a couple of years appealing, adding to the challenge of filling the RadioShack space.

I've bought many an item at this particular RadioShack store since childhood, and am still using many of them, including a portable AM/FM transistor radio that has worked without fail for decades. My shopping there declined exactly in relation to the chain's elimination of the interesting, innovative, and - most importantly - exclusive products RadioShack used to carry.

I used all kinds of audio accessories they had in my guitar and recording setups over the years, and was a big fan of their Tandy computers. They had handheld computers, early laptop prototypes, and the famous Color Computer. Again in the exclusive category, they had several prominent game licenses you couldn't get anywhere else, such as a Poltergeist game based on the classic film.

Apparently, the company took some of that "good advice" from misguided consultants to drop its cool and exclusive products, and sell the same mainstream phones and overpriced earphones, etc., you can buy anywhere.

The much-discussed retro ad RadioShack ran as it reached rock bottom really summed up their basic problem. Yes, the 80s wanted its store back - but Dee Snider, et al, took all the good stuff with them. Want to buy a phone like everyone else has at RadioShack? You're in luck.


Anonymous said...

"Well, it turns out RadioShack - or its Mitt Romney/Bain Capital-esque corporate master - wasn't quite upfront with us in its plans for the chain of struggling electronics stores...The longtime RadioShack at 5456 Westbard Avenue, alas, is on the list."

From the "It was a dark and stormy night" school of journalism.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Where did the hardware store used to be? Where the pet store is now?

Anonymous said...

RadioShack started to go down hill went they became glorified wireless carrier stores.

With tech gadgets being bigger than ever, RadioShack had an opportunity.

Robert Dyer said...

10:30: The hardware store was in the larger space now occupied by the County liquor store.

Robert Dyer said...

8:30: Standard troll talking point. Double standard hypocrisy from you, as usual. You don't seem familiar with generating engaging content for readers, so your negativity is understandable.

Robert Dyer said...

9:11 AM: #OMGVacantNursingHomeIn20816

Anonymous said...

We are watching you Robert Dyer ... Watching and plotting against your political career.

You will never hold office, we won't allow it. WE control this county. You are not welcome here - we suggest you move to VA.

One day you will slip up and our blog, our news network, our machine will destroy you.

Ellis said...

9:09 Really? You mean you are both watching and plotting at the exact same time? How extraordinary for you. Last I observed, you were rejected from riding the short bus:

No decent parent in the county wants their disabled child sharing space with you after reading how flippant, callous, and derisive you are toward disabled children. [For Exhibit A, "MOCO Jerk Refers to Disabled Children as 'Window Lickers' And Worse," see Comments Section for recent Popeye's Red Stick Chicken Review.] You will simply have to find a different vehicle to represent your machine.

P.S. Nice hat tip to Robert Dyer, though: Despite all of the scrutiny and bullying, he hasn't slipped up. One more reason to Vote Bob in 2018!

So hey... I saw an old (and I mean old) ad by Hans Riemer whereby he declared, "I'll get the Purple Line built, or die trying!"

How's that coming along?

Anonymous said...

Apparently, there's a Bethesda blogger guy who is spamming Robert's site. You'll see he posts about himself in third person often. I think he's lonely and craves attention from Robert. No one knows who he is, so he's trying to get attention from Robert's readers.

He's done a lot weird stuff, like he's blogged weird negative profiles of Robert, he tresspassed into downtown Bethesda apartment buildings and inserted ads for his blog under every door, etc. Residents were irate to find that trash in their units.

Just a creepy guy overall who trolls Robert all day.

Anonymous said...

"Ellis" created a Blogger account just so that he could shill for Dyer? Funny.

Also, it's amusing to note that in his comment of 10:18 AM, he does not seem to know what the term "third person" actually means.

Anonymous said...

What's even funnier is that "Ellis" commented here for the first time this afternoon, and cites the text of a comment that was deleted five days ago. Looks like he tipped his hand.

Anonymous said...

The lonely Bethesda blogger is back.
He's skeptical of Dyer and paranoid. He now thinks agents are opening and closing google accounts to comment on local news sites. Blogger was last seen wondering the halls of downtown Bethesda apartment buildings, inserting fliers under doors. Junk mail indeed.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ellis said...

Yo. Nimatode in the 11:27 back pocket. I'm not 10:18. Try, hard: A longtime reader decides to leave a post. Yippeekiyay.

12:34 This is the most engaging of the various local sites, bottom line. Thanks for explaining.

Hans is too busy completing the Purple Line (or dying trying, according to Hans).

Anonymous said...

Please excuse "anonymous". His tin foil hat is loose. He believes Robert's readers are conspiring against him or are ghosts. :/

Robert Dyer said...

6:01: The claim that there are no readers who would defend me, or respond to an orchestrated spam campaign by a paid political operative, is one of several delusional talking points he uses. Not sure why Leventhal & Riemer would want to associate their names with someone like that.

Robert Dyer said...

11:27: An anonymous troll complaining about someone signing in and commenting with an actual account? Hysterical.

Anonymous said...

@ 4:38 PM - Have you found a new place yet?

Robert Dyer said...

7:02: Has Equity One found a tenant yet?

Anonymous said...

Not officially. Reviewing options though.

Anonymous said...

I also am saddened by the demise of the Westwood RS and like Robert Dyer have fond memories of shopping there as a kid. Getting my annual notice that the new Radio Shack catalog was available for pick-up was always a lot of fun.

I agree completely that RS started losing their edge when they got away from their niche, attempted to play in the realm of other retailers, and did this poorly, with mediocre products that were overpriced. I've always thought this resulted in RS catering to a dwindling crowd of people who needed help putting a new battery in their cordless phone or cell phone.

As is often the case when stores start to decline (think: Hechinger, Sears), the good employees moved on, leaving behind either teenage employees who knew little about electronics, or else people who did know about electronics but had terrible attitudes (grouchy, arrogant, or both) and poor customer-relations skills. One employee at the Westbard RS back in the 1970s was a guy named Kevin who was the go-to person for help with just about anything electronic, and on top of it he was incredibly helpful and pleasant, but when he left, there was never anyone even remotely comparable.

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