The Changing Face of Retail Amateur Radio

Tough to be a bricks-and-mortar ham radio store.

Reality is where the once 40% on a $400 HT was only just enough to support attending Ham Fests and keeping a store open, the skinny 20% on a $75 HT just doesn’t keep the lights running.

Traditional segmentation of ham radio outlets is changing.

Formerly we had Solid Big Name ham specialty shops with catalogues, mostly featuring lower price point commodity manufacturers sprinkled with a few premium products.

Welcome the New Order  where Discount Imports take a big chunk from both Solid Big Names and even from the lower price point commodity manufacturers who sell direct.

At the same time costs to have a real store are escalating – fuel, insurances, government regulation, … almost every cost a domestic real-store ham radio shop faces is up.

Enter the “Internet Ham Radio Store,” and (we shouldn’t be surprised) now Internet Retailers like  Forget about bricks-and-mortar retail stores, you just log on and buy.

We’re also buying from overseas via eBay and other websites, even if the product is “running naked”  in terms of support and in some cases certifications compared to domestically supported products.

Be certain Discount Import HF rigs will follow soon.

There is a difference – and as long as the measurable quality difference remains between direct import and established regular gear, the Solid Big Name and Premium Products sellers are going to be less impacted than the difficulties the former price-point leading “lower price point commodity manufacturers” will face.

Times they are a changing….



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3 thoughts on “The Changing Face of Retail Amateur Radio

  1. Steve, first of all moving towards e-tail is not extending your business, is keeping pace with the market and somewhat a required step if you want to stay in the game. Go for added value, create the need for high-margin products, make your own simple accesories (baluns, jumper cables, grounding elements etc), throw in free services, buy back, overwhelm them with your knowledge so much that they will trust anything you say or sell etc. I ran an online business and trust me, oftenly we wished we could meet the customer face to face so we could get our message across, but I guess in these days the right mix is somewhere in the middle.

  2. There was a locally-owned ham store around these parts a few years ago, but it didn’t survive, in part because the owner didn’t have a positive relationship with the area ham clubs.

    • April Talmadge W1AET says:

      Seems like a local ham store is caught in the middle of the clubs that always want a “deal” and when the store can’t afford the “deal” and says no, the members cast him as bad guy that doesn’t want to do business. If he does the “deal” the members think they have done a good thing forget the poor store owner. i.e. “WE got a good deal”….then when the store can’t do it for every member of the club, the members buy online anyway. It’s a lose, lose for a locally owned ham store. The national companies local guy just says “talk to hq”.

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