ORLANDO, Fla. – Years ago, you could not walk into a mall without seeing its signature logo, now after roughly 52 years in business, the last RadioShack in Orlando will close its doors in December.
Jonathan Toothman owns the store located on Orange Avenue, 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, you know, being here as long as I have and having it be in my family,” Toothman said. “I think the time is right for me to make these 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 locations in Central Florida.
“He opened the store in 1970 before Disney opened, so this was a little town at that time,” Toothman said. “We moved down from Pittsburgh. My dad was an engineer. He retired from that to open RadioShack, and since that time there were 26 company stores and my dad’s private store.”
The family business holds fond memories for Toothman, who has spent most of his life involved in the store.
“I remember coming in on, uh, it was always New Year’s Day,” Toothman said. “He would close the store and do inventory. We always had to show up at 7:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day.”
Toothman said he and his brother took over the store once their father passed away in the 1980s.
“Ran it side-by-side for about 6 years,” Toothman said. “I was a senior at UCF when my dad died, and I quit college to run the store. I had 112 of 120 hours needed and I left school.”
Nostalgia comes to mind as you walk through the shop today. There’s a mix of old and new, mementos and memories. The original sign from his father’s first store still hangs from the ceiling.
“I tell folks we are the alpha and the omega. The first and the last,” Toothman said.
Toothman said most customers come in looking for specific needs. Some prefer talking to someone face-to-face rather than ordering online.
“You know, I still get some customers who have been around for a long time that are still shopping with me,” Toothman said. “I get customers who have a unique problem, need little insider thoughts on how to solve something.”
Toothman has witnessed the electronic evolution firsthand. His family’s franchise survived the COVID-19 pandemic and shift towards online sales over brick-and-mortar retail.
He said his family sold one of their stores in Clermont, which remains open. A store locator on the RadioShack website shows there are several others across Florida.
Toothman hopes to sell what inventory is left before he closes down next month,
“We’re still here. We’re hanging on. A few more weeks. Come get it while you can,” Toothman said.
The property was listed for lease and there is a new tenant moving in. Toothman said it will turn into a smoke shop sometime in 2023.
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