RadioShack is baaack.
While the twice-bankrupt electronics chain didn’t totally disappear from the retail landscape, it will soon reestablish a more significant footprint across the country, The Post has learned.
The hobbled 97-year-old chain has signed a deal with HobbyTown to open “express stores” inside 50 of its partner’s stores, both companies said Friday.
The deal was signed this week, and potentially, the express stores could be opened in up to 100 of HobbyTown’s 140 stores. If successful, they could expand to all the hobby chain’s locations.
The first express stores will open next week.
RadioShack emerged from Chapter 11 reorganization in January with 400 stores — most of them in rural locations.
The HobbyTown Franchise deal will bring the stores to more suburban towns.
“This will expand their footprint quickly,” HobbyTown President Bob Wilke told The Post, adding that “Radio Shack’s merchandise and customers complement ours.”
HobbyTown Franchise is purchasing the RadioShack merchandise and offering it to its hobbyist customers who need the tools, wires and other accessories that RadioShack makes.
While the HobbyTown deal will bring RadioShack to a much larger audience, it will still pale compared with the more than 7,000 stores the chain had at its peak in 1987.
It operated more than 1,700 stores as recently as last year when it filed for Chapter 11.
Last year, in a last-ditch effort to keep its doors open prior to filing Chapter 11, RadioShack struck a partnership with Sprint, which paid it rent and commissions to run small Sprint locations in RadioShack stores.
But it was too little, too late to save the electronics chain.
“We came out of bankruptcy with 400 dealers, our online business and a distribution center,” said Steve Moroneso, chief executive of General Wireless, an affiliate of hedge fund Standard General, which acquired RadioShack in 2015.
“We are just getting started,” Moroneso said. “Our strategy today is to not own bricks-and-mortar locations.”
Next week, a HobbyTown store in Mooresville, NC, will carve out 500 square feet of its 6,000-square-foot store for the RadioShack express store — and display Radio Shack signage outside, said the store owner, Jack Hunt.
Hunt’s employees will operate the express store, he said. One service will be cellphone repair.
“We think that will differentiate us,” Hunt told The Post. “There are no other cellphone repair services in our market.”
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