“It’s our voice, a new voice, the voice of the people,” said Abel Czupor, director of marketing. “RadioShack’s audience was previously just an older demographic, but as times have changed and e-commerce has taken over, the old voice of RadioShack is no longer relevant.”
After a decade of decline, RadioShack was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in 2015. In its struggle to find a brand identity, the chain filed for bankruptcy twice and grew from approximately 5,200 stores in the United States. United in 2014 to around 400 when private equity firm Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV) bought it in 2020.
That year, the vulnerabilities of the retail sector were fully realized during the coronavirus pandemic, as illustrated by the stampede balance sheet filings. It was then that Miami-based REV purchased a number of struggling retailers who intend to relaunch them at web-focused stores, including home goods store Pier 1 Imports, sporting goods chain Modell’s and discount retailer Stein Mart.
REV was formed by Alex Mehr, the co-founder of online dating site Zoosk.com, and Tai Lopez, an online influencer known for his lavish lifestyle advice. They launched RadioShack Swap, a decentralized crypto exchange platform that allows users to swap coins or tokens, a format that offers more flexibility and lower transaction fees than trading. Its token, called $RADIO, is worth about a penny.
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On the RadioShack Swap website, the company said its relaunch targets people who might not normally be considered crypto investors. “There is a real generational gap between the average crypto user and the average business decision maker,” the company said. “This demographic difference creates a significant psychological barrier to crypto adoption.”
In a May statement, the company reported a trading volume of $40 million, with a daily average of $500,000 to $2 million. “The swap adds two or three new tokens every week, and we continue to see strong interest among gaming token startups, in particular. They understand that the RadioShack brand is in tune with their own coin,” Mehr said.
Still, with its latest Twitter marketing strategy, the reactions have been mixed. One day, the platform itself “randomly closed our account and locked us out.” Czupor said, although some tweets were later restored.
A few internet personalities with a large number of followers have posted warnings, call it’s an “advertising campaign to curry favor with the public for their crypto system” and urging people not to fall for it. Jack Appleby, author of Morning Brew’s social media newsletter, Future Social, said that “engagement doesn’t matter if it doesn’t translate into sales,” emphasizing the value of his token in a thread analyzing his strategy.
“These reviews are completely untrue,” the company said in an email. “Sales have actually increased since we started developing the Twitter game over the past few weeks.”
Kylie Cammon, founder of social media marketing consultancy Flying Hare Social, called RadioShack’s tweets an effective way to gain exposure. “Anyone who is into Crypto is into this kind of humor,” she said. “They definitely got what they were looking for there.”
While some content might be considered offensive, Cammon said their target audience “might not necessarily care.” It was a gamble for RadioShack to go after eyeballs while risking alienating a larger group, she said.
RadioShack, which declined to identify the poster, made clear its commitment to the strategy. In a tweet filled with internet shortcut, the unnamed “intern” wrote: “Shack intern here. I wanted to take a second to think about my message. Ik you expect me to say, in my wildest dreams I never thought this tweet would go viral and apologize. … No, we weren’t hacked, and no I’m not fired. Buckle up…”
The campaign comes at a bad time for the crypto industry. Bitcoin, the top cryptocurrency, is trading near $19,000, more than 70% below its November peak. South Korean crypto project Terra – with both a token and a so-called “algorithmic stablecoin” – saw much of its value wiped out in a matter of days in May. It triggered losses across the market, including crypto bank Celsius, which would then freeze assets, and hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, which would go into liquidation this week.