Search for Boston and New England memories

Old School Radio Shack in Bedford and Woburn, Mass.

It's a shame that Radio Shack recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but comes as no surprise as online and big-box brick and mortar electronics retailers have a virtual monopoly on the industry.

I can't help but think, however, that a little bit of good old fashioned customer service might have tipped the scales in a more positive direction for the once giant electronics retailer.

Case in point: back in the 1970s, a young man named Peter Reed worked at the Bedford and Woburn, Mass., Radio Shacks, and made our trips there worthwhile every time. Peter loved his job, truly enjoyed helping customers, and had this great mind that always made me wonder why he wasn't at MIT instead of Radio Shack. Most importantly, Peter came across as human and one who could talk with anyone from a nine-year-old kid like me that loved radios to the grown-up technically savvy egghead looking to challenge his knowledge.  While the revolving door of eggheads always thought they were the smartest men in the room, it was almost always Peter who came across with the greatest know-how -- and he didn't even know it, given his humble nature.

During the "me decade," Peter with his glasses, wide smile and plain short haircut came across somewhat old-fashioned and out-of-place -- even at his very young age -- but that was a good thing.  He knew his stuff, always exhibited "consideration of others" before it became a mandatory class at some private and public sectors, and generally became the face of those two Radio Shacks. When was the last time we could say that about a Radio Shack employee?

Sure, I have run across some good employees at Radio Shack through the years but, unfortunately, not at a uniform level -- that is, where the majority of workers adhered to the highest standard possible. I remember inquiring about a certain air purifier at a local Rado Shack, and the surfer dude-like employee said, "Yes, like that a real good brand." He could not go beyond that initial statement when pressed with my questions that sought detailed answers.

In all fairness, however, I am not so sure that any type of high-standard uniformity existed back in the day -- and that perhaps Peter Reed was just a stellar exception rather than the rule. Who really knows?

Here it is nearly 45 years later and I still remember this great Radio Shack employee. I always wondered what happened to Peter, and if he stayed with Radio Shack or went onto another career. Whatever the case, Peter made the Bedford and Woburn Radio Shacks special places.

Radio Shack will sell as many as 2,400 stores to Sprint and an affiliate of hedge fund Standard General.   Hopefully, the powers that be can hire a lot of Peter Reeds to make the next chapter of business operation stay strong for the long run.

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