February 8, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
Charles Tandy

During World War II Charles Tandy was stationed in Hawaii. He noticed that huge amounts of leathercraft were being used in base hospital and recreation centers. He wrote a letter home to his father who was in the leather business selling sole leather and other shoe repair supplies suggesting this might be a good market for leather.

Charles Tandy returned home in 1950 and opened two retail stores devoted exclusively to leathercraft., one in El Paso and the other in San Antonio. He realized a 100% return on his investment with the help of mail order sales - an 8-page catalog to inquiries from a 2-inch ad in Popular Science.

Dave Tandy and his pal Norton Hinckley had formed the Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company back in the 1920s to supply shoe dealers in Fort Worth, Texas. Now Hinckley was not impressed one bit with this leathercraft. The men worked out an agreement where they would split the partnership and Hinckley would retain the shoe business and leave the leather purse and moccasin kits to the Tandys.

They targeted the school, hospital and armed forces markets. Leathercraft was the principal recreation during the nuclear submarine US Triton's round-the-world underwater-sea voyage. Supported by direct mail the company expanded to 150 stores through the 1950s.

In 1960 Charles Tandy became president of the Tandy Corporation. They expanded into other do-it-yourself hobbies, opening the Tandy Mart in Fort Worth in 1961. The Tandy mart features 28 hobby-related shops.

The organization acquired similar businesses: a tannery, a saddle-making firm and then bought Cost Plus (now Pier I imports). In 1963 Tandy took over a chain of nine failing Boston electronics stores specializing in selling equipment to ham radio hobbyists. They applied principles of selling leathercraft to electronics and when Dave Tandy died in 1966 at the age of 67 Radio Shack was the fastest growing chain in America.

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