RadioShack’s New Owners Don’t Really Care About Buying The RadioShack Name

Image courtesy of (Phillip Pessar)

RadioShack still exists. Well, stores that say “RadioShack” on them still exist, but those are a joint venture between the Shack’s new owners and Sprint. While the stores have kept their doors open, there’s one thing missing from the business plan: this new venture doesn’t own the RadioShack trademark yet. They aren’t too worried about it, though.

While the chain’s stores have either been closed and liquidated or reborn as SprintShacks, those stores and their inventory were one small part of the bankruptcy auction. The sale was controversial because other creditors objected to lender Standard General using RadioShack’s debt as auction currency, but the deal will keep about 1,400 stores open for now. That’s good. However, Standard General doesn’t own the RadioShack brand name. That part of the business goes up for auction in May.

The Wall Street Journal points out that the joint venture’s leaders have declared that they don’t necessarily need to own the RadioShack trademark to carry out their future plans: they have the right to use the RadioShack name for six months if they don’t purchase it. Maybe they could just slap “Sprint Gadget Hut” signs on the front of their stores and call it a day. The RadioShack name has brand recognition, but does that consist of anything more than nostalgia at this point? Is that nostalgia worth $20 million? That’s how much the name was reported to be worth before the auction.

Another part of the business that hasn’t yet been sold is the RadioShack dealer network. While this part of the company’s business is relatively small compared to the 4,000 stores that it had at the beginning of this year, that’s still hundreds of retail outlets, mostly in small towns, that are successful and bring RadioShack merchandise to new markets. While e-commerce has changed small-town shopping, sometimes you need a really specific electronics item on short notice. The dealer network will go up for auction in May, and independent RadioShack dealers and franchisees are worried about what new ownership could mean for them.

Customer information still isn’t part of the auction, though: for now, you don’t need to worry that your name and address that are on file from when you returned some batteries eight years ago will be sold.

RadioShack Trademarks, Customers, Dealer Network Up for Sale [Wall Street Journal]