NEW YORK—During a tour of New York’s largest independent Apple retailer, tech artifacts like old transistor radios and Apple’s old G4 Cube and Message Pad are juxtaposed with sleek cutting edge items, including the iPad 2.
Offering products and services outside the scope of conventional Apple stores since 1987, Tekserve has become entrenched as a local business after co-owners Dick Demenus and David Lerner started the company offering audio board repairs out of one of their apartments.
“We have customers that have been coming to us for 20 years,” said Michael Sullivan, assistant retail manager. “It's one of those businesses that has kind of a homier feel to it. It's like your local Apple store, without being Apple.”
Employees are able to serve customers effectively due to extensive knowledge of Apple products.
“The people that work here are really enthusiastic about Apple, we use the products day in and day out,” said Sullivan. "We're all artists in some form or another. Everybody here is either a musician or an actor or they do videos, they paint, they sculpt. Because of that we're kind of ingrained in Apple culture. It makes us better able to serve our customers.”
The singular store is located on 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, but is not just a place to shop for Apple products or look at old Apple relics. They perform data services, rent out computers, and host learning classes and events. For example, two classes in June are titled “iPad in Business Briefing” and “How to Get the Most out of Your Mac.”
“We're really kind of reliant on the New York community. So we do as much as we can with local charities to kind of give back, because those are the people who support us,” said Sullivan. Tekserve hosts quarterly e-waste drives, donates to local charities, and is a big supporter of public radio, the first avenue of connection for the co-owners.
It also has a division called Tekserve Pro, which provides equipment and technical services, including to the Grammy Awards for six consecutive years.
The store closed last Saturday for a redesign: three iPads on display jumped to over 10, and space was opened up to streamline customer service.
“It was important for us for people to see into the store, and also people inside to see out, and give it this feeling of openness,” said Sullivan.
Now passersby can see through a mostly all-glass storefront into the building, possibly eyeing technological relics like the transistor radios and tables made with reclaimed Coney Island boardwalk wood.
Demenus, described as a tinkerer, owns many of the odds and ends placed throughout the business. One of his creations is the seats in the waiting area. They are actually old drag racing seats connected with speed-rail, a type of thick piping, and replete with custom seating cushions. There is also a classic Coca-Cola machine in the middle of the shop, featuring mini-glass bottles and a dime price tag.
Of Apple Inc.’s four Manhattan stores, the closest to Tekserve is at 401 West 14th Street, just a short walk away. Despite the short distance, many New Yorkers are still choosing Tekserve for their Apple products and services.