MEDINA TWP.: Paul Sevougian has spent his entire adult life in his family-owned RadioShack store.
So when RadioShack announced last week that it would close 1,100 company-owned stores, the 60-year-old Sevougian made it clear his store would not be one of them.
“We are here to stay,” said Sevougian, second-generation owner of the store started by his father, Stephen Sevougian, in Fairlawn in 1971.
That store was located in the Fairlawn Plaza, now called Fairlawn Town Center, near where a company-owned store is located.
In 1981, after a RadioShack opened in Summit Mall, his store relocated to Medina, Sevougian said. Then it moved from the city to its current location in the Medina Grande Shops off state Route 42 eight years ago.
The Medina store is the only franchise in the Akron region, said Sevougian.
His father, a chemical engineer with Dow Chemical, decided not to move the family on a company transfer in the early 1970s and instead became a RadioShack franchise owner.
“He loved to tell jokes, was happy, a very active guy,” he said of his father, who worked at the store until a few months before his death at 93 on Jan. 1, 2008.
Needless to say, Sevougian has seen many changes through the years.
“There are so many products that have disappeared off the market that we don’t sell,” he said.
For example, it has been 10 to 15 years since the store sold computers.
When the family opened its Fairlawn store 43 years ago, it did not sell telephones, he said.
Sevougian said he thinks the closing decision probably is a good idea. “I always thought they were overcrowded,” he said.
Business lately, he said, has been “struggling” because of the economy, online shopping and competition from big-box stores such as Walmart.
“Forty-three years of electronics knowledge and hometown values bring the personal touch to each and every customer,” Sevougian said.
Chuck Nicoletti, a 68-year-old retired electrician, visited the store last week to buy a headset and an extension cord to hear his television better at night after he takes out his hearing aides.
“I prefer to go to a store and talk to someone with knowledge of what I want to do,” said the Brunswick resident.
Another shopper, Nancy Blake, 75, of Medina, came in looking for a landline telephone.
She said she has shopped at the store for more than 20 years. She saw Sevougian and his late father every day when she worked at Buehler’s and they came in for coffee and donuts.
“I go to stores when I want people to stay here,” she said. “I don’t want the stores to close.”
After the closings, RadioShack will have more than 4,000 stores. There are nearly 25 in the five-county Akron-Canton region.
Managers at area stores said they were not permitted to give interviews after the closings announcement.
Sevougian, who began working in his father’s store when he was still in high school, said there are about 900 franchise stores with about 40 in Ohio.
The closings, he said, “opens up new business for our store since we aren’t going anywhere.”
A Summit Mall RadioShack closed a few months ago after nearly 35 years. A Build-A-Bear store moved into the former RadioShack space, mall spokeswoman Kate Miller said, and a new Vera Bradley store will open by the end of this month in the space where Build-A-Bear used to be located.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org.