Electronics Superstore No Shack

Moscow's growing consumer electronics business just got one store bigger -- one giant store bigger.

An 800-square-meter Radio Shack superstore, the largest in the world, opened Friday on Sholkovskoye Shosse in eastern Moscow.

The massive new store, which also acts as Radio Shack's distribution center and corporate offices, has an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink feel, offering more than three-dozen types of calculators, 40 different types of electrical testing devices and a walking, talking dinosaur toy.

Unlike most Radio Shacks in the United States, the superstore offers non-Radio Shack products, carrying Compaq computers, Pioneer televisions and Kenwood stereo equipment. Prices are equivalent to those at Radio Shack's stateside stores, company representatives said.

Radio Shack, which now has two stores in Moscow, is one of the many consumer-electronics giants that is trying to quell the Russian capital's seemingly insatiable appetite for electronic doodads.

In the last year, Philips, Sony, Siemens and Samsung have all opened new stores or distribution centers in Moscow. On Tuesday, Sony said it was expanding its distribution in Russia by "four to six times," according to Itar-Tass.

A spate of department stores have also devoted considerable space to selling consumer electronics: Many of the halls at the former Soviet exhibition complex, VDNKh, hawk electronics. The Office Club, Progress, Global USA and Mikrodin are also embracing the consumer electronics craze.

The people who brought Radio Shack to Moscow, however, say that the proliferation of electronics providers does not worry them.

They plan to open another store in Moscow this year and are looking at opening four more stores around the area within the next two years, said Vadim Nikitine, a vice president at Trident/Radio Shack Russia, which owns the franchise rights for Radio Shack stores in Moscow.

The company is also considering ventures in Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk and the Ukrainian cities of Kiev and Kharkov.

"There are more people in Moscow than in New York and about half the number of electronics stores," said Steven Williams, the store's general manager. "Competition is great. It brings prices down and quality up."

Nikitine and Williams declined to say what their sales projections are. They did say, however, that since this is the biggest Radio Shack in the world, it should have the best sales. The best-selling Radio Shack, located in Florida, has annual sales between $3.5 million and $4 million, Nikitine said.

The company gets most of its goods from Southeast Asia and requires about six weeks' lead time on ordering. "We've had to get pretty good at predicting what people want," Williams said. "It's a bit of a gamble."