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Entrepreneur: Store within a store computes

Phil Castle, The Business Times: 

Tony Cabral expects to increase business for his computer services firm by opening a store within a store.

Cabral soon will open an outlet of Aspen Street Computers inside U.S. Tech in Grand Junction. He believes computer repairs and sales will complement the consumer electronics retailer. “I think this is just an absolutely perfect marriage.”

Tony Cabral plans to soon open an outlet of Aspen Street Computers inside the U.S. Tech store in Grand Junction. Cabral believes the computer services and sales he offers will complement the sales of increasingly sophisticated consumer electronics at U.S. Tech. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Earl Cogdill, the owner of U.S. Tech, agrees. “This seems like an ideal fit.”

Cabral and Cogdill also agree on another aspect of business — offering their customers personal and friendly service from locally owned and independent operations. Said Cabral: “This is a hometown feel kind of business.”

Cabral expects to open his store inside U.S. Tech by Oct. 1, offering a range of computer repair, maintenance and installation services as well as selling a line of computers he’s assembled. The location will be the second for Cabral, who also operates a store in Fruita.

Cogdill said the space in his store became available when the increasing popularity of flat panel televisions made it unnecessary to devote that space to displays of projection TVs. Cogdill said he decided to lease the space to Cabral because of the complementary nature of the two businesses.

Technological advances have brought consumer electronics and computers closer and closer together, Cogdill said. Many televisions now come equipped for connection to the Internet to view movies and stream video, he said.

Cabral brings to his venture 25 years of experience in the industry, the last two operating his store in Fruita.

He takes a different approach to computer support than some competitors, though, in completing all work in house rather than shipping computers back and forth to outside vendors. That means he can resolve problems more quickly, usually within three days, he said.

Cabral said he offers more affordable prices both because of his lower hourly fees and the fact he doesn’t charge those fees unless he’s physically working on a computer. He goes off the clock, he said, when software runs — to scan for computer viruses, for example. Moreover, Cabral doesn’t charge to backup data. And he said he’s yet to loose data, even when a computer operating system fails.

One of the biggest differences, Cabral said, is his personalized approach to customer service.

Cabral said he strives to get to know his customers on a first-name basis and encourages them to drop by his shops even if they only want to drink a cup of coffee and visit. “All of our customers are friends more than they are clients.”

Aspen Street Computers features what Cabral calls a “consulting couch” where he sits down with customers to discuss their computer problems or offer advice on running certain software. Cabral said he also makes house calls to resolve minor problems — often without charge.

Affordable prices and personalized services pay off, Cabral said, when customers share produce from their gardens or bake him cakes — but also bring him repeat business.

In addition to repairs on individual computers, Aspen Street Computers offers  commercial and residential networking and installation services. Cabral said he’s still working on developing a preventive maintenance program in which he’ll scan computers for viruses and back up data and programs on a regular basis.

The firm also sells a line of what Cabral has branded I-70 computer systems for home and business use, gaming and computer-aided drafting. The systems come with a three-year warranty.

Cabral offers frequent promotions at his shops. One recent promotion offered customers the option of paying what they could afford for computer repairs.

An upcoming promotion will offer discounts to students and faculty of Mesa County School District 51 as well as earmark a portion of sales to benefit computer instruction in the district, he said.

For now, though, Cabral said he’s excited about the prospect of opening a computer store within a consumer electronics store.

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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