Though lower Manhattan is still shrouded in darkness, some local businesses have stayed open, serving whatever’s left in the kitchen by candlelight. But restaurants and bars aren’t the only ones working to return some sense of normalcy to neighborhoods ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. Tekserve, the retail and service store for Apple products in the Flatiron, has remained open throughout the blackout, its customers illuminated only by flashlights.
Tekserve CEO Kevin Hart told Betabeat that he was tired of sitting in the store by himself, and realized that if he used the store’s inventory of charged laptops and iPads, they could easily get themselves up and running during the blackout. The store opened Wednesday at 11 a.m. and has been open every day since from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Employees braved two-hour-plus commutes to sell Apple products–the most popular being the Mophie battery pack for iPhone, of course–to customers without power in lower Manhattan. Using iPads equipped with Verizon 4G and Square to complete purchases, the Tekserve team has sold a slew of Apple products to customers, including iPhones, iPads and battery packs.
“We’ve sold speakers so people can attach them to Apple devices and use them as entertainment system,” Mr. Hart said. “We’ve sold whole new system setups. A lot of folks have lost devices due to water or power surge damage. They need to get their lives back to normal, so they come in to buy equipment.”
What’s it like working in a pitch-black store, we wondered. “They’re having a blast,” Mr. Hart said of Tekserve’s employees. “It’s like being a kid in a fort you made under your parents’ couch. The customers are impressed with our ingenuity, and people are just so happy to find something that’s open because they’re looking for battery packs for their Apple devices. People are looking for iPads so they can reconnect to the world.”
Hurricane Sandy can’t deter Apple enthusiasts looking to get their hands on the new iPad Mini, either. The Mini goes on sale today, and Mr. Hart said they sold their first one to a customer at 9:04 a.m.
“On Wednesday we saw just north of 100 customers,” Mr. Hart said. “Yesterday we saw about 250 and today I would guess with the new iPad 4 and the Mini, I’m anticipating we’re going to have a brisk day. If we see south of 500 people I’d be surprised.”