Helpful hint, asshole who works there, Cat3=Phone cable. Cat5=Ethernet.
I miss the days when the Radio Shack employees actually understood what I was talking about. There used to be a time when they knew the difference between TTL and CMOS. Now, they can’t tell the difference between Cat3 and Cat5. They can’t even tell wires apart.
There’s a RadioShack near my office that has gone all retro. A whole wall full of soldering supplies, wire, connectors, proto boards, those old cabinets full of discrete components and DIPs (pretty limited selection, but it’s something.) Plus now they have some Arduino stuff, miscellaneous kits, and they even brought out those old Forrest Mims books which look like they’ve been gathering dust in a warehouse for 20 years. Somebody at RadioShack has realized that electronics has become a big, profitable hobby again for a lot of people.
But they still don’t know anything. None of the staff has been trained on all this “new” inventory.
“Do you have any desoldering braid?”
“Nevermind, I’ll find it myself.”
“Do you have a crappy third-rate cellphone that only works in Burkina Faso?”
“Right this way, sir!”
I now pick up all my electronics stuff there, in the possibly vain hope that what money I spend might convince Radio Shack to actually be good again. Who knows.
Radio Shack has *never *had knowledgeable employees. As a full-time electronic systems designer, I was in RS frequently in the mid-1980s through early 90s. Not only did I never run into a manager or counter person who knew anything, the times I talked with them about working there (usually Christmas help hours), I was told flat-out that I knew too much - RS had/has a policy of hiring people who knew nothing, so they could be indoctrinated with nothing but RS-approved speak.
I got more insight into that working with RS central over some electronics books. I worked on several projects that were finally deemed unprofitable, as house writer Forrest Mims was churning out much the same material for them. (First Jesus Freak I ever ran into - we once spoke less than two minutes about a project before he got up on the proselytizing box. As I was fairly young and he was a major name in hobbyist electronics, I listened to him for far too long…)
Since the components and DIY stuff got pigeonholed into one dark and dusty corner, it’s much worse. They’re just cell phone stores with some other junk now.
I, too, wonder how they have survived in a world of Best Buy and several competitors, since no one does solder-and-component work any more. Maybe they’re the grandest of front/laundering stores?
Unless you live in a fairly small place there is probably an independent store (not MASS MARKET) which is run by a knowledgeable person and would have the product. But you have to search these places out–they don’t have big bucks for big advertising.