ORLANDO, Fla. – Years ago you couldn’t enter a mall without seeing the signature logo, now after about 52 years in business, Orlando’s last RadioShack is closing its doors in December.
Jonathan Toothman owns the Orange Avenue store just south of downtown Orlando. He spoke to News 6 about the end of an era for his family business.
“It’s a very bittersweet thing for myself to be here as long as I’ve had it and to have it in my family,” Toothman said. “I think the time is right for me to make those decisions to do this.”
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Toothman’s father opened the first store in the area in 1970. Since then, the family has owned three stores in central Florida.
“He opened the store in 1970, before Disney opened, so it was a small town at the time,” Toothman said. “We moved down from Pittsburgh. My father was an engineer. He retired from that to start RadioShack and since then there have been 26 company shops and my father’s private shop.”
Toothman, who has spent most of his life in business, keeps fond memories of the family business.
“I remember walking in, uh, it was always New Years,” Toothman said. “He would close the shop and take inventory. We always had to show up at 7 a.m. on New Year’s Day.”
Toothman said he and his brother took over the store when their father died in the 1980s.
“I ran it side-by-side for about 6 years,” Toothman said. “I was a senior at UCF when my father died and I left college to run the store. It took me 112 out of 120 hours and I dropped out of school.”
Nostalgia comes to mind when walking through the store today. There is a mix of old and new, souvenirs and memories. The original sign from his father’s first shop still hangs from the ceiling.
“I tell people we’re the alpha and the omega. The first and the last,” Toothman said.
According to Toothman, most customers come looking for specific needs. Some prefer speaking to someone in person rather than ordering online.
“You know, I still have some customers that have been with me for a long time and are still buying from me,” Toothman said. “I get clients who have a unique problem and need a little inside thought to solve something.”
Toothman has witnessed electronic development firsthand. His family’s franchise survived the COVID-19 pandemic and shifted to selling online versus brick-and-mortar retail.
He said his family sold one of their stores in Clermont, which is still open. A store locator on the RadioShack website shows there are several others throughout Florida.
Toothman hopes to sell remaining stock before it closes next month,
“We are still here. We’re hanging on. A few more weeks. Come and get it while you can,” Toothman said.
The property has been listed for rent and a new tenant is moving in. Toothman said it will turn into a smokehouse sometime in 2023.
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