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RadioShack turns to startups for extreme makeover

RadioShack has fallen on hard times and is turning to startup companies to turn things around.
RadioShack has fallen on hard times. Its stock has tanked for two straight days and on Wednesday it hit an all-time low of 64 cents a share.

The retailer is working on a fix. They are going for an extreme makeover and San Francisco is the first city to see it. Its store on Market Street has gadgets from some of the hottest new startups. Many of them from right here in the Bay Area.

Sphero is a very powerful robot built by a young startup and it's magnetic in its ability to attract customers.

"It does a ton of sick tricks. It goes really, really fast, so when it is on display people definitely notice it," said Colin Crook of Sphero.

The whole front of the Market Street store is changed. It's no longer the old brands you grew up with.

Products like Roominate, a building toy for young girls, could be just the ticket for the retailer that's struggled to stay relevant.

"We were literally packing boxes ourselves to ship to our Kickstarter supporters, and back then we were shipping a couple thousand. Now we're going to be doing over a 100,000 units," said Bettina Chen, Co-Founder of Roominate.

For years, it was a place to buy wires or resistors and a store for people who like to tinker. It still is, just in a different way now.

"RadioShack believes in inventors, makers, entrepreneurs, and we're working with a lot of those folks to get their products into stores," said Merianne Roth of RadioShack.

It now has products you can't find in other stores.

San Francisco based Lively is a way to check up on your aging parents or grandparents who live by themselves.

"I can go in here and see when mom took her medication," said Lively Co-Founder David Glick.

Lively uses sensors that show when they opened the fridge, took their pills or went out for a walk. They shied away from big box stores, but went with RadioShack because they agreed to give salespeople special training.

"If you think about Lively, it's a family purchase. It's a purchase that an adult child is involved with, that an elder is involved with, and so they need to have people that are really knowledgeable about what the product is," Glick added.

Well-trained staff are another part of the strategy. Some folks are skeptical.

"Maybe if they bring Shaq back as their spokesperson," said shopper Jesse Ratner.
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business startup stocks gadgets technology toys retail San Francisco
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