A cell phone store conversion
by Sally Mitani
From the January, 2011 issue
"If you're a cell phone company, why wouldn't you want your product in a cell phone store?" asks John Jabero, who along with his brother James, owns the Wireless Toyz franchise on Fourth and Washington. They used to own a Wireless Toyz franchise on South Main too, but just converted it to a Sprint store.
Jabero's question is not a hypothetical one. He's talking about Verizon, which is gradually pulling out of mom-and-pop phone shops around the country. He hasn't received his dismissal letter yet, but he sees the writing on the wall.
AT&T pulled out of small stores years ago when the iPhone came on the market, and with Verizon also going to the big boxes, Jabero knew he might be left with only Sprint, T-Mobile, and MetroPCS. Afraid the pie was becoming too small to support his franchise fees, in November he quickly stripped the smaller Main Street store, which he's had for six years, of its Wireless Toyz imprimatur and cast his lot with Sprint. For now, he's still carrying Verizon at the downtown Wireless Toyz, but he doesn't know how long that will last.
"Sprint's a great name, but why not carry everything?" Jabero asks. "I mean this is something that was not broken. Our business was excellent. Why can Walmart and Target sell Verizon, and we can't? At least give us the opportunity. Okay, I don't do the volume that they do, but I pride myself on customer service, customer care."
Taking a moment to do a commercial for Sprint, he says, "It's very affordable, especially if you're getting data devices [smartphones]. They don't charge you extra fees--everything is built into the plan."
But back to Verizon: the Jaberos are ticked. Verizon is "a large part of our business," he says. "A lot of our customers are upset. It's a shame. We called Verizon and said 'You guys are taking food out of our kids' mouths. We're trying to make a living here.'"
Sprint Store, 1336 S. Main. Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m. sprint.com
[Originally published in January, 2011.]