The newly opened Computer Hut at 71 Main Street in New Paltz is Jeremy Shapiro’s first storefront business. But that doesn’t mean he’s new to his field. For more than ten years now, Shapiro has run a business online through sites like Craigslist and eBay, buying and selling computers and electronics that he repairs and sells fully refurbished and warrantied.
Opening a brick-and-mortar location in New Paltz had been an idea in the back of his mind for a while, with proximity to college students a good bet for an electronics business. But the right location didn’t become available until the large space once occupied by Earthgoods opened up. Shapiro didn’t think he’d be able to afford the rental there until he spoke with the landlord, who told him the space was going to be divided up into two. With the smaller space making a business there viable, Computer Hut moved in and opened its doors in November.
Much of the business to date has involved repairs. For example, phones that need a cracked screen replaced come through the door on a regular basis. “There seems to be a strong need for a repair shop in this area,” Shapiro says. Free quotes are given for repair estimates, something relatively unusual, he adds, in a business where the quote for repairs often comes at a cost upfront, which results in the customer feeling obligated, then, to go ahead and have the repair done at that shop. Shapiro is confident that his rates are competitive enough that he can go with the free estimate, and he even provides customers with a temporary laptop, if need be, while theirs is being worked on.
A lot of customers have brought in used or broken electronics to sell, for cash on the spot or trade-in value toward a purchase. “A lot more people than I thought there would be have been bringing in all sorts of stuff, from cameras to computers to tablets.” As someone who repairs broken electronics and sells them refurbished, Shapiro says he’s happy to have the items come to him in that way rather than have to rely only on lots of merchandise sold in bulk to fix and sell.
In addition to the repair side of the business and purchasing used electronics, Computer Hut sells refurbished computers of all types, with a particularly high demand for used Apple MacBooks. When a customer buys a refurbished computer, they pretty much get a fresh start with it, according to Shapiro, who says that while it may be a model that’s a few years older, it’s like getting a new computer, because it comes with new software set up any way the customer likes and with a good battery and power supply, all of it fully tested out. The operating system is cleanly installed with new passwords, and any problems, they’ll fix or replace it on the two-week warranty provided. An extended warranty is also available for purchase.
Computer Hut does not currently sell brand new computers at this time, but they do have some new tablets and a wall of electronics accessories, including Apple products, all new and priced competitively below what even the big box stores sell them for. Repackaged brand-name batteries of all types (far from their expiration dates) and blank CDs and DVDs are available along with phone cases, USB hubs and cables cords and wireless mice and such (and without necessitating the drive to go to the big retailers). “I’m trying to keep the prices down and be competitive,” Shapiro says. “I’d rather sell more of something faster than slower and gouge people.”
Born in New York City, Shapiro’s family moved up to the mid-Hudson region by the time he turned two and he’s lived in the area since, including a stint in New Paltz a few years back. He currently lives in Kingston. He got into selling on eBay when it first came out and started becoming popular, he says, selling video games and electronics before moving into computer sales. He started off buying working computers cheaply in bulk lots — from a school getting rid of theirs, for example — but when he began getting broken ones in the mix, he taught himself how to do repairs.
As an add-on type of thing, Computer Hut also buys and sells used DVDs of TV shows and movies. Shapiro plans to put out more such DVDs soon and also add more display cases for more computer accessories. “I hate being asked for something and not having it,” he says. “I’d rather just try and have everything.”
Computer Hut is closed Tuesdays; open six days a week from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information is available at (845) 750-5279 (call or text) or www.computerhutsales.com.