PT RadioShack outlasts national chain

Kirk Boxleitner kboxleitner@ptleader.com
Posted 8/8/17

When the Lyle family became RadioShack store owners, little did they realize that they’d wind up outlasting the RadioShack chain – twice.

Barbara and Dave Lyle bought their first RadioShack …

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PT RadioShack outlasts national chain

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When the Lyle family became RadioShack store owners, little did they realize that they’d wind up outlasting the RadioShack chain – twice.

Barbara and Dave Lyle bought their first RadioShack store in Sequim 30 years ago. After their daughter bought a store on Bainbridge Island 23 years ago, Barbara and Dave decided to buy another store in Kingston three years later.

The couple kept their Sequim store, but gave up their Kingston store 10 years ago to take over their son’s Port Townsend RadioShack store, so that he could serve in the military in Afghanistan for a year.

Barbara Lyle noted that in 2009, after two years of great sales, the Port Townsend store began experiencing the impact of the Great Recession. Her daughter sold her Bainbridge Island store three years ago after the recession.

And as RadioShack customers nationwide likely have heard, the chain went bankrupt in 2015, even though a number of its stores, like Barbara Lyle’s Port Townsend store, kept on going.

“There used to be thousands of RadioShack stores across the country,” Lyle said. “Now, there’s only somewhere between 80 to 100. They still tried to make a comeback, though.”

Unfortunately for RadioShack, General Wireless Operations Inc., the company that acquired the brand in 2015, filed for Chapter 11 in March of this year.

“It’s interrupted our supply line so much that we’ve had to go to other places to stock our shelves,” Lyle said. “We’ve always been allowed to do so, but there’s a lot more steps involved when you’re ordering from outside the company. It’s been a chore.”

The main reason the Port Townsend store kept going for as long as it did was “tenacity,” in Lyle’s words.

“We couldn’t just quit something that had been part of our lives for all these years,” Lyle said. “We just tried to keep the products on the shelves as they were needed.”

Lyle elaborated that online shopping had already cut into her Port Townsend sales, although sales at her Sequim store remain relatively steady, “and it’s not due to a lack of competition out there.”

Lyle doesn’t anticipate the Sequim store will close anytime soon, not only because they have been able to do business with different wholesalers there, and to obtain cheaper prices in the process, but also because of the enduring loyalty of their Sequim customers.

“We have a lot of people here in Port Townsend who are sad to see us go, but there’s a number of them that I hadn’t seen in years,” Lyle said.

Still, Lyle reported that the Port Townsend store continues to see a brisk trade in cell phone minutes and charger cords, memory cards for phones and cameras, thumb drives, earbuds and passport photos.

“If we didn’t have to pay rent and employee wages, we could almost make it out here,” said Lyle, who noted that her current staff of two represents a downsizing from the store’s peak number of six employees, back when it was still located next to the Subway sandwich shop on Water Street eight years ago.

“We just never recovered from the recession out here,” Lyle said. “We used to have three or four times as much business in Port Townsend.”

With the Lyles’ five-year lease on their Port Townsend property ending in September, they’ve made the decision to clear out before then.

In spite of the hassles of recent years, Barbara will miss coming to work in Port Townsend, even as she and Dave keep running their Sequim RadioShack store for as long as they can.

“I’ll miss the drive,” Lyle said. “And I’ll miss the friends I’ve made here. I’ll have to find other ways to see my great-grandson, Fred. He’s a joy. He’s 2 years old, and he loves coming to Grandma’s office, because I’ve got all sorts of toys for him to play with.”

Lyle apologized to her customers, but acknowledged, “There comes a point where you reach the end.”

The Port Townsend RadioShack is located at 2211 E. Sims Way.

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