Wireless Toyz’s loss was Debbie Peterson’s gain. Wireless Toyz sold Verizon products and services on the corner of Washington and Fourth Avenue for fourteen years, until Verizon changed its corporate policy–if any cellular store didn’t market the company’s products and services exclusively, it couldn’t sell them at all. But Wireless Toyz’s corporate policy was to work with multiple cellular carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile, so Verizon turned to Peterson, who was already an exclusive Verizon Wireless dealer with four other franchises (the others are on Jackson Road, and in Saline, Ypsilanti, and Jackson).
“They called and said, ‘Hey, Deb, how would you like to open a store in downtown Ann Arbor? We just lost all our distribution down there by choice,'” Peterson says. After scouring for a location, she opened her newest Wireless Zone on Main Street in the former Shahin Clothing space in mid-April.
Peterson estimates it took at least $40,000 in renovations to turn the tailor shop into the sleek combination of exposed brick and high-tech displays it is now–including less noticeable improvements like a new ceiling and a fire suppression system. Then she spent an equivalent amount on display furniture, desks, and computers. But the end result, she says, is worth it. “It’s an amazing space now,” she says, with a “high-end look, feel, and experience for customers.”
Downtown leases are notoriously expensive, but Peterson was adamant about being on Main Street. “We have to be in an area where the people [who work downtown] by the hundreds if not thousands are already parked [and] are willing to do business with us by walking,” she explains. “So we don’t have to worry about parking, because people work down here. They can come at lunch and we can deliver the phone in the afternoon.”
Peterson believes the ability to do in-and-out shopping during the workday will be key to her new location’s success. “People are used to going on the weekends with their children, waiting in line, taking up what would otherwise be family time, to try to get their PDA upgraded,” she says. “If they can steal a little time from work and get it done, I think that is going to be a big benefit.”
Wireless Zone, 212 N. Main. 327-5300, Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.