The brand’s U.S. stores have since largely shut down, but now, RadioShack’s current owners, Retail Ecommerce Ventures, want to use its supposed cachet among investors and aging, conservative execs to enter the world of cryptocurrency. The company appears to be creating an exchange-like platform designed to make it easy to invest in coins created by future partner companies, including other well-known retail brands, as well as its own digital token called, naturally, RADIO.
“RadioShack is uniquely positioned to bridge the gap and ‘cross the chasm’ of mainstream usage for cryptocurrency,” they write, adding, “The need for a bridge between the CEOs who control the world’s corporations and the new world of cryptocurrencies will most likely come in the form of a well-known, century-old brand. RadioShack is perfect.”
The website, which warns that “it has been brought to our attention that imposter accounts might be trying to imitate the RadioShack crypto launch,” also suggests that other brands owned by its parent company, including Pier 1 Imports, Dressbarn, and even pre-crypto collectible coin vendor The Franklin Mint, may get in on the crypto act.
“One brand like Pier 1 launching their own proprietary token on the RadioShack swap adds instant swap trading fee revenue and creates case studies for RadioShack swap to go out and bring in more enterprise brand customers,” according to the website.
Of course, RadioShack and its sibling retailers aren’t the first legacy brands to jump on the blockchain bandwagon. Here are a few others that have tried the crypto pivot.
Kodak, the once hugely successful camera and film company that was among the first to detect U.S. atomic bomb testing and even maintained its own unusual calendar system, saw its fortunes decline with the rise of digital photography. In 2018, presumably not wanting to miss another evolution in the market, it announced plans to launch a cryptocurrency geared toward photographers.
The announcement of KodakCoin, a name that likely had some of RadioShack’s target audience humming Paul Simon (“Kodachrome,” get it?) spurred a jump in Kodak’s stock price at the time.
The project was widely mocked, however, and it appears to have since been shut down and scrubbed from Kodak’s website.
Long Island Ice Tea
A Long Island Iced Tea is the name of a popular cocktail that doesn’t actually contain iced tea, but lots of booze. And the Long Island, New York, company, Long Island Iced Tea Corp., made ready-to-drink iced tea and other drinks that didn’t contain any alcohol, contrary to its evocative name.
Never as successful as its namesake cocktail, the company, in 2017, decided to change its name to Long Blockchain, never mind that its business didn’t yet contain any apparent blockchain elements. The stock price soared briefly but wasn’t sustainable, and its total market value wasn’t high enough to keep it listed on Nasdaq. And last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued three people alleging insider trading based on advance knowledge of the name change.
In late 2020, movie theater chain AMC was warning that it might have to file bankruptcy after the industry was decimated by the coronavirus pandemic. Then, last year, Reddit stock traders made AMC one of several soaring “meme stocks,” letting the company sell more than $1 billion in shares.
Likely realizing that there’s an overlap between meme stock buyers and cryptocurrency fans, AMC has embraced letting moviegoers buy tickets with a variety of digital currencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum. “Dogecoin next,” CEO Adam Aron tweeted in November.
Honorable Mention: PepsiCo
In 2019, amid the crypto craze, soda and snack giant PepsiCo announced a program called PepCoin, complete with a logo that evoked digital currencies like Bitcoin.
Of course, it wasn’t actually a cryptocurrency: It was the latest variant on the loyalty programs that snack and soft drink vendors have offered for years, giving rewards to customers who regularly buy their products and enter or scan codes found on the packaging.