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Longtime electronics retailer set to close final Lawrence store; proposed law would keep track of political affiliations of faculty members


It is still hard to believe a store with such a forward-looking name like RadioShack is slowly going out of business. I suppose I should brace myself for TelegraphHut to close as well. Indeed, the days of RadioShack in Lawrence are very near the end.

The RadioShack store at The Malls shopping center at 23rd and Louisiana is conducting a store closing sale. According to the signs at the location, its last day of business will be Wednesday.

In case you have lost track, that is the last RadioShack store in Lawrence. At one point, RadioShack operated three stores in Lawrence. But the company already has closed its stores near Sixth and Kasold and 31st and Iowa.

For awhile it looked like The Malls store might survive. Not long ago, the store received an updated look and began selling Sprint products. But now it looks like the entire chain is set to close. Bloomberg reported on Friday that its sources say RadioShack’s parent company is preparing to file for bankruptcy. The parent company — General Wireless Operations — bought the RadioShack brand out of a 2015 bankruptcy case. So, many observers are expecting this next bankruptcy will be a straight liquidation.

I’m not sure when RadioShack came to Lawrence, but it has been around for decades. And despite me making fun of the company’s name, the stores were often helpful. I would get 10 minutes of advice, a $2 part, and with such knowledge and supplies I could fix any audio/video device — as long as either of my children were around to help me operate the remote control.

• While we are in The Malls shopping center, I have a few updates there. Family Video is now located in that center, having previously been located across the street at the Louisiana Purchase shopping center. A couple of other businesses, however have closed.

The Kansas Sports Outlet ended up being a short-lived venture at The Malls. We reported in August that the store was opening and would be selling a lot of KU Athletics clothing and merchandise. The company was selling stock that it had left over from the Allen Fieldhouse merchandise store it previously operated. There was talk that the Kansas Sports Outlet would remain in business once it sold that inventory, but apparently the owners decided not to go that route.

There does appear to be one new business going into the center. Renovation work is underway on space next door to the former Bikram Yoga location, which closed this summer. I’ve got a couple of calls in to see what is going into the space. I’ll let you know when I hear more.

In other news from around town:

• The old Bikram Yoga sign at The Malls actually touts the former business as the “Yoga College of India.” That reminded me of a recent news story that I thought was appropriate to share in a college town.

Did you hear about the Iowa state legislator who had some confusion over the definition of a degree? The Washington Post and several other outlets ran an article about Iowa State Sen. Mark Chelgren. One of his online biographies indicated he had a degree in business management from the Forbco Management school.

Well, a television station in Iowa started looking into that and found that the “degree” actually was a certificate from a Sizzler steakhouse that he once worked at. He had to do some in-house training to be eligible for a promotion. The state senator said he didn’t see much difference between the terminology of “degree” versus a “certificate.” The online bio has since been changed, and Chelgren indicated he did not want to argue over “semantics.”

Although it is kind of amusing, I probably wouldn’t have pointed this out had it not been for the other part of the article. Chelgren has been in the headlines in Iowa for a higher education bill he has proposed. It is one that I’m guessing faculty members across Lawrence would at least find interesting.

The Washington Post reported that Chelgren last month filed a bill that would require Regents universities in Iowa to consider the political affiliation of people applying to become faculty members at the university.

The Post reports that the bill would restrict universities from hiring a candidate based on his or her political affiliation, in some cases. The bill seeks to ensure that the percentage of faculty belonging to one political party not exceed by 10 percentage points the faculty belonging to the other political party, The Post reports. Yes, I’m aware there are actually more than two political parties, so I’m not sure exactly how that works.

It makes sense to the Iowa lawmaker, though.

“I’m under the understanding that right now they can hire people because of diversity,” Chelgren told the Des Moines Register. “They want to have people of different thinking, different processes, different expertise. So this would fall right into category with what existing hiring practices are.”

I haven’t heard of any proposal like that for Kansas, but you don’t have to stretch your imagination too much to think of some Kansas lawmakers who might support such a plan.


David Holroyd 1 year, 1 month ago

Now the need to fill that space. If Ace Hardware goes, then the shopping center is in dire straits! What next? A church in it, a thrift shop?

Two anchor stores and one left!

This is a shopping center that cannot be rebuilt easily like as what was done with Kmart, the original Walmart. Lawrence may soon see the effects of too much commercial space or at least in the wrong locations!

Watch for Penney's and what happens to that space if it soon closes.

Chris Jeter 1 year, 1 month ago

RadioShack closing doesn't have anything to do with the amount of commercial space in town. The entire chain is going under.

Theodore Calvin 1 year, 1 month ago

That's not his point. His point is that retail is in dire straits as a result of online shopping and there will be a ripple effect that we are beginning to see. His point is that the real estate market is going to get hit hard, potentially leaving blight and abandoned shopping centers. I believe he is hoping the city will take mitigating steps, and at the least take notice of the potential real estate crisis looming. No one wants an abandoned shopping center in their neighborhood.

William Enick 1 year, 1 month ago

There has got to be something we can do to turn these empty spaces into (if not profitable) break even enterprises. I would love to have a space for design-modelling-artistic endeavours-etc., and I'm certain I'm not alone. Tweak the regulations for these spaces and lets get them usefull. Few of them from now on will become retail spaces. You can 3D design/build an interior now that would take less than 8 hrs to set up. But as long as "profit trumps everything" the American Dream will continue to be dismantled.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 1 month ago

NO job should be based on a person's political affiliation. Are the Republicans just going to throw the constitution out the window? Well, everything but the 2nd amendment. There followers all think that's the only thing in the constitution anyway.

David Holroyd 1 year, 1 month ago

Mr. Jeter, I know the chain is going under, but the fact is: When a store such as Radio Shack is closing and has been an anchor store in that shopping center, it becomes extremely difficult to bring another anchor store into the shopping center. Thus you have a vacancy probably filled with a marginal tenant for a very long time. The commercial spaces are all over town. But if you read what I wrote, NOT in the right places.

So, Mr. Jeter, watch what happens when Penney's closes and I have a couple others you might be interested in. Lawrence is NOT a market much anymore for retailers except it is a market for shopping center developers who can get a free ride. They just love to nurse on the mother teat of the planning department!

So there you are Mr. Jeter, Snarky over and out and it is lunch time where Snarky is :)

a nice 85 degrees too!

for Dorothy fretting about political parties...just register Independent!

Jenny Hutchinson 1 year, 1 month ago

Just open up another pizza or chicken place there.

Andy Craig 1 year, 1 month ago

I can't believe that there are still video stores in business...

Will White 1 year, 1 month ago

Overall retail vacancy in Lawrence is just over 5%, same as the US and less that the Kansas City Market. East 23rd St is the worst performing sub-market with 17.85% vacancy of the just over 60,000 sqft available. Rents along East 23rd are the second lowest lowest in town (Second to North Lawrence which has a .045% vacancy rate. Seems to me we need some investment in the East 23rd corridor. It is looking tired and neglected If property owners along this stretch don't invest some money back into their properties, there will be some real problems emerge.

Sales tax in Lawrence is up 4% year over year, so saying we are "not a market" is unfounded. One more point for David Holroyd. You state "except it is a market for shopping center developers who can get a free ride." I can only assume you are referring to the failed K-Ten project on south iowa. You do know they were not asking for any incentives from the city, correct?

Richard Heckler 1 year, 1 month ago

What is needed is 30,000 new jobs that pay no less than $64,500 annually.

New investment in a saturated market competing with online shopping is difficult to sustain.

The Sam Brownback administration may have eliminated about 15,000 of those jobs when they took over government employment = dumb economics.

Randall Uhrich 1 year, 1 month ago

Sad to see Radio Shack go. They have a selection that you couldn't find anywhere else! I remember when they started as a branch of Tandy Leather. My dad visited both places with his hobbies. Anyone remember tooled leather purses?


Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 1 month ago

I also hate to see Radio Shack go under. When I was working for a local company on out of town projects, we often needed some small electronic part or gadget and could rely on the local Radio Shack. They also started dabbling in cell phones, an obviously over stuffed field of product in competition with cell phone stores on more corners than banks.

I also am a hobbyist who uses electronic parts in my projects and now will have to order them from Mouser Electronics or Digi-Key.

I think part of their problem is that they did specialize in having these kinds of parts readily available for hobbyists. In recent times they had developed a troubling direction of trying to compete with Target and Wal-Mart by having various toys for children,

But in today's atmosphere of folks buried in the screens of their plastic electric toys are not too interested to actually work with these sorts of projects. I guess it is just easier to sit on your butt and text and talk endlessly instead of developing any sort of constructive interest in a hobby like electronic projects.

Oh well........Mouser and Digi-Key will appreciate my business.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 1 month ago

Online shopping and a heavily saturated retail market in Lawrence are working against retail economic growth meaning there will be long tern turn forever. All new retail must forth a ton of effort to survive which eliminates a lot of jobs after an "initial grand opening".

Lawrence,Kansas supports economic displacement with gusto.

As to the percentage of vacancies and what that means can be questioned. It seems some property owners alter how property has been designated such as from commercial retail to whatever so as to legally deceive say new commercial retail interests.

David Holroyd 1 year, 1 month ago

All the original strip mall centers are marginal . Look at 6th street east of Iowa. Look at 2rd street. Buildings for sale still. What happens when Hobby Lobby ponies up and hobbles away?

The problem in Lawrence with folks living there and never getting out of town much, is that what they see day to day, they begin to believe it is the norm.

The Malls and Hillcrest Shopping Center are the two best locations in town and need to be leveled. I would take Hillcrest first because the Malls isn't big enough without expanding the site clear to McDonalds and the buildings south of that business demolished. Maybe leave McDonalds.

23rd street lots are much to narrow in depth on the west side from Iowa to Lousiana. All developed piecemeal.

19th and Haskell, blight!

Some say retail space vacant is low? How comes, the guy wants to put storage units in the center where Perkins is? Tell me that Mr. Jeter?

Lawrence is living in a shell surrounded fog!

Just what do folks think is already in the Malls center? When rents become too low, you get marginal tenants or rather space fillers. I wouldn't put too much faith in the Ace Westlake being at that location forever.

Do the folks from California still own the Malls?

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