Exactly one month after opening a location on Broadway, the owners of The Windows Store are beginning to see slow growth in business.
Entrepreneur-technicians Timothy Toliver and Daniel Perez opened their computer repair and accessory store between the Apple Store and Campus Customs last month to improve electronic services available to Elm City residents. Both owners bring over two decades of hands-on customer service and electronics-repair experience to their business. But although they service a variety of operating systems, smart phones and software, Toliver and Perez are seeing slow business.
“We will repair what others aren’t willing to repair, and we will explain what is wrong instead of trying to sell a customer new items,” Toliver said. “We want to leave a positive mark on the community and give back — not rip people off.”
Perez said he expected a slow start, but the store’s upstairs location puts them at a further disadvantage. Because the storefront is not at ground level, other businesses have larger signs that obscure their site, meaning passers-by can easily overlook it. Perez added that he and Toliver often rely on word-of-mouth to attract customers.
Although business is slow, Perez said he is optimistic about its future growth. Though his previous business endeavors around the state have flatlined, he said he believes New Haven provides a dynamic community where he can succeed. He added that unlike other businesses in the area, The Windows Store places a focus on personalizing customer service and fulfilling a wider variety of computing needs, including complete cleanups, data backup and data recovery.
“This area is a prime location of need,” Toliver said. “We have no desire to be exclusive, and we are open and welcoming to Yale students and locals. We see ourselves as underdogs trying to ensure people get the right service they need at the right price.”
Like Perez, when Toliver began working in computer and electronics repair, he faced similar challenges. But he added that his identity as an African-American created additional hurdles. He said that because of his race, he has found it harder to build connections and gain customers. Toliver added that had he not had a mentor as a teenager, he would not have had the opportunity to learn the skills he needed to enter the electronic-repair industry. Toliver is restarting college in the fall, and said he aims to serve as a role model to youth by growing The Windows Store.
Toliver said he also hopes The Windows Store will help reduce high unemployment rates in the Elm City. He noted that unemployment tends to be a more prominent issue among minorities. More than 18 percent of black New Haven residents were unemployed in 2015, according to a statement made by New Haven Caucus Chair and Hill Alder Dolores Colon at the New Haven alders’ Black and Hispanic Caucus last March. Among New Haven Latinos, the unemployment rate stood at over 20 percent in 2015, she added. Both owners said they hope their store will help alleviate unemployment in the Elm City.
“When it picks up, we’re definitely looking to hire,” Toliver said. “We want to help lower the unemployment rate, which is really high here in New Haven.”
Toliver added that many businesses in New Haven are family-owned and run, and thus less likely to hire from the general population. As a result, local residents have trouble finding employment.
Until The Windows Store sees more customers, the owners cannot afford additional employees. The store currently draws attention from some Yale students and New Haven residents, including court liaisons, residents of Hotel Duncan and the owner of Custom Tee’s Plus on Whalley Avenue. Toliver and Perez have also retained clients who hired them before they opened the new business.
“They are a new business and still working on their operations, their wrinkles,” said local architect David Harlan, who previously hired Perez for regular computer service. “[Perez] is very informed and smart about IT system design. He understood and worked within our budgets especially well — in fact, worked hard to get the best prices for our needs.”
The Windows Store is located on the second floor of 59 Broadway.