Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Day: February 10, 2015

Future for Keizer RadioShack unclear

There were no signs on the outside of the Keizer RadioShack on Tuesday morning to indicate things were out of the ordinary, but many shelves inside were bare. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
There were no signs on the outside of the Keizer RadioShack on Tuesday morning to indicate things were out of the ordinary, but many shelves inside were bare. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

There were no clearance sale banners on the outside.

But speculation is heavy about the future of the Keizer RadioShack, as well as the chain overall.

According to a Bloomberg report Monday evening, RadioShack Corporation is preparing to shut down as part of a bankruptcy deal that would close about half of the stores and sell the other half to wireless carrier Sprint. A separate Bloomberg report stated Amazon could be looking at the retail spaces as well.

As of Tuesday, things didn’t look much different at the Keizer RadioShack, located at 5410 River Road North in the Keizer Creekside Shopping Center. Unlike some RadioShack locations around the country, there were no big sale or going out of business banners on the windows.

Inside, there was plenty of open space and a number of empty shelves.

Katie Whelan, manager of the Keizer RadioShack, said she wasn’t allowed to comment on any of the speculation and referred the Keizertimes to the company’s media relations people.

A RadioShack media relations spokesperson didn’t have much information, either.

“We don’t have any specific information to share at this time regarding stores or markets,” the spokesperson said in an e-mail. “We do not have any comments related to the ongoing speculation about the plans for the business as a whole.”

The Texas-based retailer opened in 1921 and currently has about 4,000 stores, including the one in Keizer, three in Salem and one each in Woodburn and Silverton.

The future of the retailer has been hotly pondered for months as the brand has sought to reinvent itself numerous times in an attempt to stay relevant. Speculation ramped up Monday when the New York Stock Exchange suspended trading of RadioShack’s stock immediately, after the company failed to submit a plan addressing its lack of compliance with stock exchange rules.

According to one of the Bloomberg reports, Sprint is discussing the acquisition of 1,300 to 2,000 of RadioShack’s 4,000-plus locations. RadioShack has lost 90 percent of its value during the past year, the report noted.

The company, which was in its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s thanks to CB radios and the TRS-80 personal computer, has struggled in recent years.

According to Bloomberg, Amazon.com is interested in RadioShack retail locations as the online retail giant looks to bolster its brick-and-mortar operations, possibly using the stores as pickup and drop-off centers for online customers.

City will honor Japanese pioneer

480x270-Welcome-to-Keizer-sign

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

A project that languished for years has quickly moved forward.

Members of the Keizer Points of Interest Committee (KPIC) had talked about a project to honor the history of Japanese Americans in the Willamette Valley off and on in recent years. Late last year bids were secured for a sign to put up on the other side of the Marie Dorion kiosk at Pfc. Ryan J. Hill Memorial Park in Keizer Station.

Jill Bonney-Hill, KPIC chair, brought a request for the sign to the Keizer City Council on Jan. 20.

At Monday’s meeting, councilors approved the project and expenditures of $157.27 to have the sign printed by Sign Crafters. Parks Department employees will be placing the sign once it is ready.

“You may remember at your last meeting a KPIC representative spoke about this item,” city attorney Shannon Johnson told councilors.

A motion to approve the resolution was approved unanimously without comment.

As detailed in a Keizertimes story in November, much of the project revolves around Japanese farmer Roy Fukuda, who settled near Lake Labish northeast of Keizer in 1905. His hope was to make his fortune before returning home, but he and his wife decided to stay in the Keizer area.

Fukuda transformed the beaver marshes into profitable farmland, which led to more Japanese families coming to the area. At one point nearly 50 Japanese families were farming small plots around Lake Labish, expanding to farm in Keizer and Independence as well as owning businesses in Salem.

In 1920 The Statesman did a story on Fukuda and his successful celery growing business, an industry that had grown to $100,000 in output a year by that time.

Among other places, the quality of the crop was appreciated in Washington, D.C. In 1925, U.S. Senator Charles McNary – the namesake of McNary High School who served in the Senate from 1917 to 1944 and was a vice president nominee in 1940 – wrote a thank you letter to Fukuda.

In other business Monday:

• Mark Caillier, president of the Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association, gave the annual report for his group, which was formed in 1994 and was expanded in 2013 to encompass more than 2,500 households within the Gubser Elementary School attendance boundary.

Caillier gave a recap of what was discussed during the eight meetings last year and some of the projects completed by the association. He took over as president last fall from Brad Coy, who has stayed on as a board member. Ryan Steckly is the vice president.

Caillier noted GGNA uses funds from the city for flyers, yard signs and a newsletter.

“We continued our presence on Nextdoor and Facebook,” Caillier said of social media efforts. “We have almost 300 households using Nextdoor. We’ve been able to keep people up to date.”

One of the main projects for GGNA was the annual Miracle of Christmas, an effort during the Christmas season each year that collects food and cash donations to benefit the Marion Polk Food Share. A new record was set in one of those two categories this past year, with the second best ever in the other. Totals will be announced at the next GGNA meeting, taking place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19 at Gubser Elementary.

• Several recommendations from the Volunteer Coordinating Committee were approved by councilors. Former Mayor Lore Christopher – who refers to herself as Public Art Girl on her Facebook page – was appointed to the Keizer Arts Commission. Christopher previously was on that committee, but her term expired when she was no longer in public office.

Bev Ecklund was appointed to serve on KPIC while Scott Klug was appointed to the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.