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Maplin Electronics Stores

will it be gone?

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norm norton20/02/2018 10:19:50
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Sad to read today that Maplin may be failing in its current format.

I used to live near to the very first shop that opened on the A13 at Westcliff-on-Sea in the early 1970s. The name 'Maplin' was the buzz word in the area because of speculation regarding London's new airport on the Maplin (Thames) Sands.

In that shop there were wonderful rows of bins of resistors, capacitors and cable connectors that you put in a small tray and took to the counter for payment. It was lovely shopping that way as you could browse and compare.

It was then strictly a constructors component shop with transistors being the most complex item - a DIY version of Radio Spares (RS Components) who were more sniffy about selling to the public. In more recent times it has become a computer and electronic toy shop.

Norm

Neil Wyatt20/02/2018 10:32:14
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Posted by norm norton on 20/02/2018 10:19:50:

It was then strictly a constructors component shop with transistors being the most complex item - a DIY version of Radio Spares (RS Components) who were more sniffy about selling to the public. In more recent times it has become a computer and electronic toy shop.

Norm

I agree Norm,

I have the last thick catalogue they produced, it was like the RS one, but about 1 1/4" thick and full of example circuits etc.

Then they went for the high street and turned into a Tandy-a-like

Nowadays it's just a token selection of components and the rest is like any other 'gadget' shop.

I think the weakness in their strategy for the last 20 years has been a lack of depth in all their product lines, and poor online product search.

Neil

John Haine20/02/2018 10:48:29
2045 forum posts
113 photos

I hadn't picked this up - I agree they aren't what they were but I've found them useful in the past few years when I want components fast, and they are cheaper than RS for lots of things. Popped in recently and was depressed to see further reductions in the range of goods. Being professionally concerned with IoT security, I've been very unimpressed with their recent ventures into connected gadgets, selling lots of things with well known vulnerabilities. I even raised this with them about one product and they were totally unwilling to discuss it.

And yes, their online catalogue is woefully bad!

Muzzer20/02/2018 10:49:17
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In fact they also have a large selection of components "out back", so you are only seeing the packaged stuff out on the shelves. You can only see the discrete components online or in the expensive catalogue, so many people aren't aware of it.

The most striking / heavily promoted product ranges in our local Maplin are the "smart home" products, ranging from the digital assistant things through remote control switches and lighting to the alarm systems and video monitoring. They might be right in seeing them as the next big thing in electronics retail but what would become of the rest of the shop if they are right?

Not certain they want to be trying to compete with the likes of Currys, Argos etc showroom electronics. Perhaps (like Staples) they should go online only. Their time may have come...

Murray

David Colwill20/02/2018 11:23:13
556 forum posts
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I always found them to be a bit of a joke. Components are hit and miss, anything to do with a computer seems to be out of date and overpriced and what's left is tat (just my opinion).

Rapid electronics seem to be a good halfway house, though mail order only.

David.

Brian G20/02/2018 12:01:07
342 forum posts
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Two new branches in business parks near me have replaced a high street store with no parking, which is a positive move, but the parts counter is absent from both of them, together it seems with any staff who know what they are doing. When I asked for an IC socket (which showed as in store online) told "plugs and sockets are in those drawers", which it wasn't.

As a result I have given up on Maplin. CPC deliver orders over £5 free and even the free delivery has often been next day, so it is a no-brainer.

Muzzer20/02/2018 12:09:51
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I get that same feeling I used to get when I was forced to go into Tandy in the old days, hoping nobody saw me in there, what with being a professional electronics engineer. There used to be a couple of "proper" radio component shops in Harrogate when I was a boy but they are long gone now - no money in it I suppose. The premises formerly occupied by Harrogate Radio are now hosting a funeral parlour(!), dog groomer, gents hairdresser and an Italian "boutique".

CPC are even better than Rapid for a lot of stuff - some of Rapid's stuff is pretty expensive. CPC is part of Farnell but the prices (even for the exact same parts) are often a lot cheaper. I always check them before looking at Farnell and RS.

Murray

Martin 10020/02/2018 12:16:09
248 forum posts
6 photos

I think the last time I used them was for a diecast box (needed in a hurry) maybe 10 years ago, the previous time was for a 68 pin wide SCSI cable some time around the end of the last century. I must have last bought individual components from them in the 1980's. The catalogues were a must buy not only for the application content but the covers.

The era when every small town had at least one shop selling electronic components even as a side line to a TV repair business is long gone, you might even struggle to find them in big cities now.

John Haine20/02/2018 12:20:31
2045 forum posts
113 photos

A typical problem with Maplin...one of my favourite ICs is the 3140 op-amp. Just done a quick search, they have 6 in stock in Cambridge (2 stores) - often you check something and they may have zero stock in the town but one in say Harlow! This is for something that costs £1.99!

Trevor Drabble20/02/2018 13:34:46
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Unfortunately , in essence I agree with previous posts in that even their in-store catalogue is worse than woeful . As a result , I asked the Rotherham store staff for help , but they also were useless . I did however eventually buy some items . When I later asked for a circuit , I was told one was not available . I then completed their feed-back form complaining at the abysmal situation that no circuit was available , only to receive a reply saying my comments had been moderated and would not be appearing on their web page comments section .

I subsequently sorted the circuit and bought the additional other components I required elsewhere . Can't help feeling it's a highly regretable situation .

Brian Sweeting20/02/2018 13:43:39
280 forum posts
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Haven't been to a Maplin in years but even then i noticed the shortage of skilled staff.

I think the keen electronics biased staff have gone onto more well paid and worthy employment in direct proportion to the fall off in keen home enthusiastic amateurs.

Bazyle20/02/2018 13:52:18
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4123 forum posts
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We used to have Tandy and Maplin almost next door to each other but M put T out of business. Also had Watford Electronics but it went all computer in 'Jessa House' built with the millions made around the time of the BBC computer.
Maplin is still there but overpriced and only 2 components of each type, maybe, in the back.

Everywhere is JIT now. Screwfix only stock 5 of anything. I used to get a box of 10 disposable masks from them but now they just have the 5 individual, want more 'get them by tomorrow sir' which does at least work if you aren't planning to be 250 miles away tomorrow.

Soon it will be. "pair of gloves sir? Here's the left hand we'll have the other in tomorrow".

Mike Poole20/02/2018 13:55:29
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I think hobby electronics has declined greatly since the 1970s, there used to be quite a selection of magazines but now many of those titles have gone. Now many of the projects that used to appear regularly are done with an Arduino type device. Many of the unique items that people dreamed up are now standard features easily available. Wiper delay, dimmer switch or drill speed controller anyone? Even in the 70s many things cost as much to build as a commercial item but I suppose we built stuff for the satisfaction and pleasure rather like now with workshop stuff you make because you can't buy it or want to make it, cost is often not a major factor.

Mike

Andrew Johnston20/02/2018 14:05:56
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I suspect they're on the way out.

I used Maplin a lot back in the 70s and early 80s for components, all mail order. I was probably averaging two orders a week. Of course back then the likes of RS and Farnell wouldn't consider anything other than trade clients along with several references.

In the mid 80s I got a trade account with Farnell, as I was friendly with the Cambridge rep. So I stopped using Maplin. Of course now Farnell and RS will take anybody, as will Digikey and Mouser. So the original Maplin business proposition is defunct. I suspect that's why they went towards kits and audio/visual/computer stuff. There is/was a Maplin shop in Cambridge. Can't remember if I've ever been in it, but if I have it was decades ago.

I've done enough electronics professionally in the day job not to want to do it in my spare time now. If I do need bits I simply order from the professional suppliers.

Of course if Maplin go down the tubes it's part of ones youf gone, but that's life. Forget it and move on. In the early days I was interested in RF and spent quite a lot of money in person, and mail order, with Home Radio and Henry's in London. They're either long since gone, or have changed tack like Maplin.

Andrew

PS: I've just looked, there are two Maplin stores in Cambridge, the original one in the city centre and one a bit further out on a retail park

Edit: Why does one always see a speeling error after posting?

Edited By Andrew Johnston on 20/02/2018 14:07:56

Clive Hartland20/02/2018 14:10:20
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2333 forum posts
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The news I read was that they are looking for a, 'Buyer', the first sign that they are under performing and will not make it through the year.

The one in Medway recently moved to Strood Business Park, but there are parking restrictions so I do not visit.

Previously they were situated alongside the railway bridge at Luton Arches again with very restricted parking space, awkward to get to.

OuBallie20/02/2018 15:34:18
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Posted by John Haine on 20/02/2018 10:48:29:

I hadn't picked this up - I agree they aren't what they were but I've found them useful in the past few years when I want components fast, and they are cheaper than RS for lots of things. Popped in recently and was depressed to see further reductions in the range of goods. Being professionally concerned with IoT security, I've been very unimpressed with their recent ventures into connected gadgets, selling lots of things with well known vulnerabilities. I even raised this with them about one product and they were totally unwilling to discuss it.

And yes, their online catalogue is woefully bad!

John,

I've asked numerous vendors/manufacturers about their security, and their total silence is deafening!

One even asked me to contact them privately, so obviously they didn't want to discuss this on Social Media meaning that they had NONE.

If they are becoming an IoT vendor then customers better hold them to account with regards security as the industry as a whole has proved just how lamentable their attitude is to this.

Geoff - Back on antibiotics again.

Edited By OuBallie on 20/02/2018 15:38:05

Brian G20/02/2018 15:41:46
342 forum posts
8 photos
Posted by Clive Hartland on 20/02/2018 14:10:20:

The news I read was that they are looking for a, 'Buyer', the first sign that they are under performing and will not make it through the year.

The one in Medway recently moved to Strood Business Park, but there are parking restrictions so I do not visit.

Previously they were situated alongside the railway bridge at Luton Arches again with very restricted parking space, awkward to get to.

The new branch at Sittingbourne has decent parking (and shorter traffic queues) but is no better in terms of stock or service.

Brian

ronan walsh20/02/2018 17:02:02
463 forum posts
32 photos

Went into maplin in Dublin twice last week and twice i was given the incorrect item by incompetent staff. I wanted a new lnb for my satellite dish. These are usually 40mm in diameter, but my dish takes 37mm for some reason. Anyway the first time i did not know this and bought a "universal" lnb as the spotty youf behind the counter swore it would fit.

Brought it back and met an even more idiotic female, who swapped it for one that "will fit for sure", i asked had she a calipers behind the counter, and she did not know what that was, so i took a chance, which of course did not pay off. To say i dislike maplin is an understatement.

But sadly there are few alternatives.

Bazyle20/02/2018 20:00:33
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4123 forum posts
171 photos

Perhaps equally relevant to us on here is metal shops. I've never been lucky enough to live near a Reeves or Kennions in the old days or even a town with small job shops that would sell you stuff. Mail order is ok for a few electronic bits but gets a problem for 2ft of 2in dia steel.

Nostalgia: I can remember a trip to the Edgeware Rd just to see the shops like Henry's and Home Radio, then over to Tottenham Crt Rd to Proops.

larry Phelan20/02/2018 20:21:43
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544 forum posts
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Ah,my friends "Those were the days"when people in shops knew what you were talking about [they even listened to you ] and sent you on your way rejoicing.Now they send you away,fuming

As regards Maplin !!! been there done that !

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