Radio Shack (1921–2017); He’re a list of alternatives to The Shack

Well, it finally happened. The end. Sprint (more specifically General Wireless) put it out of its misery last month. And today I’m in need of a 1 foot long USB 3.0 extension cable.

Not to turn Medium into another Buzzfeed, but I think it is time for a convenient list of where to go to find things.

Amazon

The first thing that came to mind was of course the Big A. I mean, I have a Prime account (meaning most of my stuff will be here is about two days with no shipping), I’ve been spending a lot of time here picking up other items. Especially since I’ve been sort of a home body lately as my foot continues to mend.

However, I’ve noticed lately some of the more specialty items have been harder to find especially from certain brands that offer those rare items.

Micro Center

If you haven’t been blessed with this retail shop in your area, your life as a computer geek is not complete. Certainly, you could probably stick Best Buy or Fry’s here, but they can’t possibly make the cut that Micro Center has.

Micro Center offers a good in-house brand called InLand, as well as a few of the other online retailers on this list that Amazon has too, but with less overhead.

The reason I like them more than their big box competitors is that they sell parts and accessories and if you are into Raspberry Pi, Arduino, or building your own desktop, here’s the best place to start. Local upgrades, repairs, and exchange services. And a great place to buy parts for desktops and general laptop stuff like memory and hard drives.

Newegg and TigerDirect

Seen as the main competitors to MicroCenter, Newegg and TigerDirect kinda have a big box feel to them even though they are online retailers. Though their bread and butter have been electronics, in order to compete with companies like Amazon and Ebay, lately they’ve been try to add more dry goods to their inventory.

I highly recommend doing a price comparison between these sites and Micro Center and Amazon before opening your wallet to them, especially since shipping is not free for small orders.

StarTech and Monoprice

Looking for rare parts? Need that one specific wire or connector? Go to the source!

The two names I keep running across for for these sorts of things are StarTech and Monoprice. While you can definitely find their products at the previous retailers.

Fry’s

Just when Fry’s didn’t seem to make the cut, a Google search brought about a reminder that Fry’s does sell parts. The reason Fry’s almost didn’t make the list is the fact that there aren’t that many Fry’s here in flyover country.

Industrial Distributors

I’m almost done with this list and yet AdaFruit and Ebay aren’t on it? Well, for three reasons:

  1. AdaFruit is kinda overpriced. Sure you can get your stuff there, but the way things are priced, it is sort of a racket really.
  2. Ebay isn’t the same Ebay we grew up with. It used to be the go to place for Internet auctions but now it’s trying to be more like Amazon. The excitement of trying to beat someone before they sniped you on something you wanted to buy is kinda gone especially since many of the retailers want a fixed price.
  3. Ebay has been flooded with Chinese crap. It’s not all bad, but it takes forever just to get stateside. Amazon also has Chinese retailers trying to sell their wares, but the last place I want to buy a five dollar item and wait three weeks for it to get here is Amazon. It would be more efficient if Chinese retailers banded together to rent out some warehouse space to store some of their stuff over here instead of having to ship it over here and wait for it to pass through customs. Even better if they went through a quality control check so that manufacturers trying to build a good name for themselves don’t get lumped into the same group as the manufacturers making knockoffs and defective products.

So what about that list of retailers who can provide parts?

  • Mouser — The first name that comes to mind is Mouser. While their main market is the industrial sector, who doesn’t like a big fat catalog full of technical diagrams and pricing lists to wax some nostalgia for the old Radio Shack days?
  • DigiKey — One of Mouser’s competitors. DigKey is more interested in selling to manufacturers, but they have quite of bit of resources and also sell electronic parts for Automotive electronics.
  • Newark — Home of Element 14, Newark has been attracting hobbyists lately and selling some products at retailers like Micro Center. But don’t get too attached to the Internet of Things (IoT) until just about everybody puts some security software on it.
  • Jameco Electronics — Aiming closer to the hobbyist market, Jameco offers plenty of parts and online support.
  • All Electronics — There’s a good chance that you might find some old Radio Shack parts from All Electronics since they also buy excess inventory from other retailers.

Some other mentions

Hopefully this has you covered for all that you need to find electronics in a world were DIY repairs although popular can’t be accomplished without having access to resources.

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