Local Radio Shacks find stability amid national uncertainty

Manager Adam Hemingway stock shelves at the Radio Shack store in Woodstock. Justin McIlwee/Daily

WOODSTOCK — While the list of Radio Shack corporate stores has dwindled to 70 and the franchise stores are now down to a few hundred across the country,  the two Radio Shack franchise locations in Woodstock and Strasburg are both going strong.

“A lot of it has to do with overhead,” said Garlan Gochenour, owner of the Woodstock and Strasburg Radio Shacks,  when asked about why his stores have been able to stay open. “With the company, they had huge overhead and had different divisions. With us, we keep our overhead lower and we have a better feel of what the individual customer coming in wants. They’re asking for it today, if they don’t have it in stock, we order it and next time they come in they have it.”

Gochenour explained that with the corporate stores, items weren’t able to be ordered individually, it would all depend on if that item came in with a larger shipment. If it didn’t, the customer would have to find the item someplace else. That’s why, in recent years, Radio Shack has lost customers to sellers such as Amazon, he said. But with the franchise stores, there’s more freedom to individually order, as the Shenandoah County stores have seven different distributors they work with to ensure the customer gets what he needs.

Another benefit to being a franchise store is that Gochenour can pick and choose what he wants his stores to sell. The Woodstock store, for instance, sells musical instruments to accommodate the schools in the area.

“The corporate stores wouldn’t carry guitars and they wouldn’t carry a lot of the things we carry in the music for the schools,” Gochenour said. “That’s just another business inside a business for us.”

And for those customers who go into the stores looking for gadgets and parts, they’ll notice a change in the physical appearance of the two local stores as well.

“Some of it’s following the trend, it’s new items,” Gochenour said.

Adam Hemingway, the Woodstock store’s manager, explained that he’s combining different looks in the store.

“I’m using some of the merchandise and technique that we used at corporate to give it a fresher and newer look,” Hemingway said. “We want to make it a more intuitive shopping experience for a lot of people and really highlight a lot of the cool things that we are going to get in, especially the things that you wouldn’t have normally seen in a corporate Radio Shack.”

In all, Gochenour said he just wants the public to know that despite the national closures, the Strasburg and Woodstock stores are still open and he wants to bring back the memories people used to feel with shopping at Radio Shack.

“I grew up liking Radio Shack,” Gochenour said. “I have five kids and all of them have worked in the business. That’s where we went for Christmas every year to buy the toys for the kids because they were good components that didn’t break the first week. I just always loved Radio Shack and the gadgets and the neat things you would see. It’s still that way. They have the neat stuff and the things that help you get the most from your electronics.”