Increased Tech Needs Keep Device Pitstop Open
With more people working and learning from home than ever before, Device Pitstop, a retailer in Maple Grove that buys, sells, and repairs cell phones, computers, and tablets, has seen more traffic recently. In response to the coronavirus crisis, owner Brad Swenson has expanded to offering pickup and delivery service for iPhone and laptop repairs.
While his store is still open, Swenson is doing his day job from home and trying to keep his eight employees’ morale up.
He said he’s worried about the virus’ impact on small businesses outside of his own, like restaurants, and is concerned about the potential for a government mandate forcing his own store to close.
Swenson talked to TCB about how he’s trying to get himself and his business through COVID-19, .
TCB: How has your work been changed or disrupted by coronavirus?
Swenson: We’ve actually seen an increase in traffic. We identified potential parts shortage early in the pandemic and now have a good supply to repair iPhones, iPads and computers. Consumers prefer to shop in an uncrowded, boutique shop like Device Pitstop versus crowded mall or big box stores.
We’ve seen a huge spike in Minnesotan’s needing to work from home – including computer monitors, keyboards and mice to use with their work laptop. With Minnesota schools closed – it’s critical that students have computers or tablets in working order. With the Apple Stores closing, customers are seeking alternatives for repair and replacing their devices. Device Pitstop can repair almost any Apple product using Apple Certified Technicians, and we have a large inventory of certified pre-owned Apple MacBooks, iPads and iPhones.
We have taken even more aggressive measures to ensure the safety of our staff and customers. All customer devices are sterilized before and after any service. All retail devices for sale are sterilized daily. All workbenches and retail counters are sterilized daily. The staff is required to wash hands and use sterilizer frequently.
We are hearing of shortages of new, retail devices from companies like Apple. Most of these devices come from China. But since we are in the resale business, most of our inventory comes from Minnesotans who have devices lying around that they would like to monetize.
Apple does not repair iPads, but we do. We partner with several area schools, including Wayzata Public Schools, to repair broken iPads. Additionally, we are communicating with the district to offer technology support to student homes to ensure students can still participate in online classes and homework.
Q: Anything you’re able to do right now to create new streams of revenue?
A | Yes – we just announced that we will be offering a new service to pick up and delivery service to home or business for any device repair.
Q: Do you anticipate work bouncing back quickly when the crisis subsides?
A | We are confident that we will get through this. We are passionate about continuing to help customers during these difficult times. We also want to ensure that we don’t have to reduce any staff. Unemployment is going to go up, but we absolutely want to avoid any layoffs. While we have the inventory of parts and devices to meet the needs of our customers in the short-term, we do have some concern that the parts supply may dry up in the next month or two. Most parts come from China.
Q: Any bright spots in this challenging time?
A | In addition to the new service for pick-up and delivery, we are increasing inventory levels in certain areas. One example is external computer monitors, keyboards and mice to help workers work from home with their business laptops.
Q: How are you keeping morale up for your employees? Is there anything you folks are doing to keep each other positive?
A | Yes, absolutely. And just to further complicate my story, my wife and I opened Device Pitstop six years ago, but I’ve always maintained a day job. My day job is I work for one of the largest physician groups in the nation, and I manage their telemedicine division. So we have been very busy.
But it’s critical to get people talking about it. So, in both companies what I’ve done is I’ve shared the feelings that I’m having, and then everyone else shares any feelings they’re having, asks any questions, and I found that that’s been very therapeutic. And then just trying to keep folks updated on what’s going on.