Farewell AES

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Amateur Electronic Supply is going to be closing it’s doors on July 27th. The Milwaukee store along with it’s other outlets are all shutting down effective on that date. A press release by HRO (Ham Radio Outlet) to the ARRL indicates that HRO is buying most, if not all of AES’s stock, and will even be hiring some of it’s employees. It will also be buying the AES building on Good Hope Road in Milwaukee, and will re-open it as an HRO facility after remodeling.

I’m going to miss AES. I’ve been buying stuff from them for three years and I never had a problem with them. Unfortunately I seem to have been the only one buying equipment from them. It was the the only retail facility for amateur radio equipment that was actually in reasonable driving distance, about an hour and a half away. When I ordered something from them online, it almost always appeared at my door in less than 24 hours.

While their prices were a tiny bit higher than some other places, AES was generally my first place to go when I needed something.

Unfortunately, things like convenience, the reliability of the retailer, satisfaction with the purchase, seem to be worth very little in the eyes of most consumers these days. Up-front cost is everything, and I know a lot of people who will endure poor service, hassles with returns and other issues just to save a few bucks, even though that savings may be entirely illusory in the long run if one adds into the mix.

The people at AES always went out of their way to make sure I was satisfied. Well, granted, I spent a lot of money there, but still, they didn’t have to bend over backwards the way they did to make sure I was happy with them.

I’ll miss them.

2 thoughts on “Farewell AES

  1. Wow, AES has been around like 50 years or something like that? I’m sorry to see them go but at least the operation is being taken over by another ham radio enterprise.

    I have to admit I have not bought anything from AES in over a decade and I might be part of the reason they are closing. I don’t need a lot of “personalized customer service” to buy a roll of coax so I typically default to Amazon for small stuff because it’s so easy.

    For expensive stuff, I shop around more and usually end up at HRO. When I bought an FT-950 a few years back, they were $100 cheaper than anyone else and there was a $50 mail in rebate to boot. I like AES, but I’m wasn’t willing to pay an extra $150 just to feel good about doing business with them.

    If you prefer small family oriented ham radio shops, Universal Radio out in Ohio is a great choice. I’ve bought a lot of stuff from them and they have never disappointed.

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    • I’m sad about AES closing but I’m not surprised. I’ve been hearing rumors that they were having some problems. Heaven knows the building in Milwaukee was looking pretty shabby. I don’t think it had been updated since the 1980s. Still, I liked doing business with them. I’ve bought multiple transceivers like my Kenwood 990 and a 2000, at least 6 Yaesu VHF/UHF rigs, antennas, etc. I liked them because I could actually go down there and get hands-on with the equipment before I bought it. They weren’t the cheapest around, but they were always within reason on their prices and I was willing to pay a few bucks more for them giving me the opportunity to actually fiddle with stuff before I bought it.

      HRO is buying them out and they have a good reputation. Even better, they are supposedly going to keep the Milwaukee site as a retail outlet. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there will still be someplace within a reasonable drive where I can fiddle with stuff before I buy it.

      There’s something to be said for having a chance to actually fiddle with stuff. When I was looking for a high end HF rig, AES was pretty much the only place I could go where I could see all of them at the same time and actually compare them. I’d been thinking of the Yaesu 9000, not the Kenwood 990 I ended up with. The Yaesu… Yes, the specifications and features are impressive. But when I actually used it — oh dear… It felt like I was operating some kind of cheap video game system. The knobs were wobbly and had no tactile feedback. The buttons were all loose and rattling in their mountings. I was almost afraid to touch anything out of fear all of the buttons and knobs would fall off it was so bad. The iCom was the same way. Great specs, but it felt like it had been built on the cheap. The 990 had good specs, and best of all, it FELT solid.

      I went back home, thought about it, and ordered the 990 the next day and AES had it to me in less than 24 hours and actually called me to make sure it had arrived safely and to see if I was satisfied with it.

      So I’ll miss them. HRO seems like a fine company from everything I’ve heard about them and I wish them success and I’ll probably buy from them in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

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