Computer Hut may turn just a year old on Nov. 10, but the skill and experience behind its counter speak volumes about how it operates.
Located at 71 Main St. in New Paltz, Computer Hut opened in 2015, and occupies one half of the partitioned space previously occupied by Earthgoods. Owner Jeremy Shapiro, together with his girlfriend Samantha Marrero, have run the business since opening day, selling computers, tablets, TVs and other electronics while taking broken or damaged devices for repair or trade-in.
“We have gained some popularity and thus been busier than ever,” Marrero said about the store’s progress. “Our product selection has grown, and so have the repair services we offer.”
Besides trade-ins, Computer Hut’s inventory includes used devices from Craigslist and eBay, supplemented with surplus lots purchased at auctions. Whether he finds a computer or a trade-in customer finds him, Shapiro refurbishes whatever he buys, and the store’s back room — packed with hundreds of devices in mid-repair — shows that Computer Hut is serious about sales. Marrero said that testing trade-ins is one of the best parts of working at Computer Hut.
“We can definitely repair computers, solve software and hardware issues, and we try to have affordable rates,” he said when asked what Computer Hut can offer New Paltz’s student population. “I don’t feel like we are in competition. As far as I know, there is no place nearby selling used electronics. I think customers like our downtown location and that we are open on weekends.”
Once a computer is fixed and ready to be priced, Computer Hut goes out of its way to give customers the area’s best rates.
“CeX in Poughkeepsie is probably the closest store similar to us,” he said. “They don’t do any repairs, but in terms of buying and selling goods, we sometimes look at their website to see what they’re giving and pricing, and we try to be more competitive than them.”
Unless new parts need to be ordered, Computer Hut’s repairs are done immediately.
“We see cracked iPhone screens all the time, followed by MacBook Pro repairs, then PC viruses,” Marrero said. Shapiro added: “For computers, it’d take us one or two days, and phones get done on the spot in 20 to 30 minutes.”
Computer Hut gives free estimates except in cases of heavy damage, an uncommon policy among repair shops. Despite the store’s emphasis on displaying Apple products, it is also registered as an authorized refurbisher of Microsoft products.
Building Computer Hut and the experience behind it wasn’t an overnight event, the owner said.
He said that he has worked on computers for over a decade, and in 2012, received A+ certification from CompTIA, a recognition that requires the equivalent of 500 hours of hands-on experience.
“Learning new skills, keeping up with all the changes in technology… with all these new models, they make it harder and harder,” Shapiro said. “I’ve taken a few [computer] classes in the city, but other than that, it’s mostly on my own.”
Shapiro gave some advice to computer entrepreneurs: “I would say start small, work on your own projects, and then if you get good, you can take in some customers and help your friends and family, fix up stuff and progress from there.”