Open is the key word for Radio Shack in Russellville
By Jim Turner

Posted on March 21, 2015 9:55 PM

A couple of signs—one literal and one symbolic—are good news for fans of Radio Shack, especially the one in Russelville.

A bright open sign is ablaze in the front window. On warm spring days, the front door is wide open.

That’s in sharp contrast to the dark, empty, locked doors of the former Radio Shack location at Greenwood Mall in Bowling Green. That store and thousands of other Radio Shacks across the country have gone out of business in the last few weeks.

Not only is Russellville’s Radio Shack still open, but it will be in business at least another year and a half and hopefully much longer.

That’s the word from Lynn Ashby, who opened the Radio Shack in his home county on April 15, 1994 and continues to own and operate it 21 years later.

The stores that are closing are corporate owned. An estimated 2,000 of the 4,000 or so company stores are gone.

Ashby is a franchise owner. The store is his. He pays Radio Shack to use the name and for most the merchandise he sells, but his operation is not part of the bankruptcy settlement underway within the company. He says most of the 750 dealer-owned stores are “hanging on.”

Radio Shack was a leader in sales of personal computers and various avenues for listening to and recording music in the last quarter of the 20th century.

Now Ashby says much of his business involves servicing items customers have purchased from other vendors. “Big box stores don’t want to service what they sell,” he says. “They don’t even want to show you how to hook them up. We’re glad to offer assistance with electronic devices that other stores have sold, and we usally have the cables, switches and adaptors that are needed to put them into service.”

Ashby’s store also has a variety of antennas. A significant portion of his sales is devoted to television antennas for those who want to pull free TV from the air instead of paying for cable or satellite signals.

The Russellville Radio Shack also does big business with Boost Mobile, which is the nation’s largest prepaid cellular provider. “We have a large selection of Boost phones and accessories, and we have accessories for a lot of lines of phones,” he says. “We can furnish many hard-to-batteries for mobile phones.”

Lynn Ashby was interested in electronics while he was growing up in Auburn. “I always liked music and I remember putting together a radio as a kid,” he says.

After graduating from AHS in 1971, he majored in elementary education at Western Kentucky University, including doing his student teaching. He then accepted a graduate assistantship while working on his masters degree.

“Then when I applied for teaching jobs, I found myself unemployed,” he recalls. “Radio Shack offered me a job in management, and I have been associated with the company ever since 1976 except for two years while I gave being a stock broker a try. When I started with Radio Shack, we were doing a lot of CB radios and vehicle stereo equipment, from 8-tracks to cassettes and then CDs. Radio Shack got out of the car stereo business about 15 years ago, though.”

He managed several company stores in Tennessee. One of them was at Green Hills in Nashville, where he hired Lipscomb University student Keith Jones, a graduate of Logan County High School. Jones, who later owned a Radio Shack in Ohio County for over a decade, now works for Ashby at the Russellville store.

During the 17 years that Russellvile’s Radio Shack was located in the Logan Place shopping center across from Russellville High School, Lynn’s wife Pat and his dad, retired Auburn Postmaster Shirley Ashby, spent many hours working in the store.

Traffic volume at Logan Place changed dramatically when the big Houchens Market and even bigger Wal-Mart moved out, as did Dollar Tree, Shoe Show, Cato’s and several other stores.

Radio Shack became the lone business survivor on the west side of Logan Place, and Lynn Ashby had a big decision to make when his latest lease was expiring. He decided to relocate to the newer Shoppes of Russellville on the hill above the new Wal-Mart location on the 68-80 Bypass.

There have been some significant changes in tenants there in the four years since Radio Shack relocated, and Logan Place is enjoying a resurgence. Ashby has a year and a half remaining on his current lease, and he’s committed to honoring it. He hopes that he will remain in business much longer than that, even if the name has to change from Radio Shack at some time.

More important than the name on the awning, however, is the Open sign on the window and the welcoming open door.

Bottom line: Radio Shack is still in business in Russellville!

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