By Jonathon Chun
Clinton County Chatter
Since RadioShack filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February, Jim Sytsma has been eagerly awaiting for the next shoe to drop.
Systma is the general manager of Clinton Elecrtonics, a RadioShack independent dealer located in downtown St. Johns. The store, which has been open since 1977 and under Sytsma’s ownership since 1981, has contingency plans for no matter what happens in the coming weeks.
“We’ll know a lot more in two days,” Sytsma said.
There are currently two parties that are trying to seize control of RadioShack in a bankruptcy auction.
Standard General and Salus Captial Partners are in a bidding war to determine who will obtain the assets of RadioShack, and ultimately the debt of it as well.
However, it seems as if Salus is pulling out of the competition. At the very least, Salus will not up their previous bid to meet Standard General’s, which is $24 million more according to The Wall Street Journal.
“Certainly, we’re hoping for Standard General to win the bid,” Sytsma said. “It’ll keep a lot more of the stores open and give us more vendors to choose from.
“We see a silver lining in both outcomes, though.”
If the auction ends with Standard General’s bid winning out, more than 1,700 stores and roughly 7,600 jobs will be saved, according to the Dallas Business Journal.
On the other hand, Sytsma knows how he would handle the other outcome.
“We have three local distributors that we could focus on buying our inventory from,” Sytsma said. “We’re not worried about running out of inventory at all. We just couldn’t sell certain products anymore.”
Sensing the inevitable, Sytsma has been travelling around to several other independent dealers and buying products in bulk – right off the shelf.
“It’s a combination of owners getting rid of all their product and owners trying to salvage it,” Sytsma said. “It’s a vicious circle, of sorts.”
Nevertheless, Sytsma has been in operation for 34 years now and doesn’t plan on going away anytime soon.
“It really hasn’t been effecting our store at all,” sales correspondent Ralph Roesner said. “Online shopping took its toll on us, but our customers are mostly local residents at this point.”
However, some St. Johns residents simply overlook Clinton Electronics in all sorts of aspects.
“In all honesty, I kind of thought that store was empty,” St. Johns native Joe Cartwright said while standing just a few feet away from the store. “I buy most of my electronics online at this point, or maybe at Best Buy once in a while. I guess I always looked at RadioShack as an off brand, or low-cost option.”
Even Sytsma understands where some of his customers are coming from.
“I mean we used to have full window showcases of stereos, GPS’s and all sorts of things,” Sytsma said. “Now everything you need is on a smart phone…the smart phone kind of hurt our product line.”
Maybe the most telling sign in all of this: A few years back, Sytsma sold his RadioShack stock and purchased stock in Best Buy.
A smart move at the time, although now Sytsma said he is considering selling his Best Buy stock before too long.