From the Basement to the Block: This SmartPhone Repair Store is Android’s Genius Bar

I’ve been busy this past year –  making videos, attending press events, establishing professional contacts, writing for various tech sites and constantly trying to find somewhere close to home to work 9-5 so that I wouldn’t be too far away from my wife and newborn.

I test phones everyday, from the consumer low level to the developer dream devices. I take them apart, and i put them back together. I take hundreds of pictures and then I delete them after comparison. I travel from location to location picking the brains of cell phone stores and then bestowing knowledge upon them; until one day my phone went and played dead on me.

Sure, I tried to fix it myself. After all I do it all anyway, right? I tried different methods over and over; buying this part, replacing it, fixing this, manipulating that – none of it worked. I was at a loss. Head hung in shame, I sought out to find somewhere a decent distance from me to repair and restore my device to something of a brand new state. After days of searching, I nonchalantly drove by a shopping center that seemed to glow against the night sky – that’s when I walked into Smart Phone Repair.

More after the break

I was promptly greeted by Lori. Aside from being genuine and radiant, she was also quite aware of what was wrong with my phone. I explained what I needed, and she walked me to the counter and explained what could be done. After some minor chit chat and sharing of ideas, I was introduced to Mike, who I later dubbed “The Surgeon”. This was Lori’s husband and the man who would put my phone under the knife. At this point it was safe to say he was the owner of the store, too. Some time went by, and what some may call “nerdy conversation” ensued. My phone was already taken apart by then, and his apparent skill with the screwdriver had presented itself. He obviously knew what he was doing. Before I knew it, I was lost in a trance, with many questions to ask but very focused on what he was doing as I am a visual learner. Not only was he gifted, but he was one of the coolest and honest people i’ve ever met.

My eyes fixated on his speed and precision, he started to answer one of my questions interview style without me even asking. “Curiosity” he says. “Trying to be different. Trying to use phones on T-Mobile. ” That’s how he got into this whole mess. That’s how he turned an idea into an empire. ” I took apart my phone several times just to explore it. Actually, my sister in law dropped her phone and it started there.” He proceeded, with a few laughs in between. ” She dropped it again, and then again! I fixed it each time” he says.

At this point, it was obvious he had been producing results for quite a while. The store started to flood. People coming in left and right wanting their phones customized, unlocked, rooted, cleaned, repaired, or jailbroken. Yes, he’s just as handy with Iphones and he is with Android devices, and though many people can say that, he showed it. ” I started to put ads on Craigslist.” This was said as he motioned towards me to enter the back of the store, and I got a first hand glimpse of his operating room. “My phone was blowing up. I had about ten calls a night and started fixing them in my basement.” He moved what looked like a pile of robot parts from reel steel to the side, but they were actually various parts to different phones and tablets; an inspire 4G camera here, a droid 2 LCD over there. Various Iphone housings. Screwdrivers and screen protectors everywhere. ” My wife didn’t want strangers coming to the house and I wanted to be more professional.” He then continued to repair my phone and placed the final screw in the bottom, and to my amazement, turned my phone on, working one hundred percent.  ” Then I decided to open a store ” he tells me and lets me know that they were the first smartphone repair store in Suffolk County.

Every phone in that store was unlocked or prepared to be unlocked. Rooted or prepared to be rooted. Covered in complete protection or being prepped to be covered in a complete invisible shield. Everything was pristine – from the storefront to the back room. “My favorite phone is the SGS2” he remarks as I point to the phone in the showcase, but then we exchange words as I remember I have to keep schedule. I leave the store, intrigued, happy that my phone is fixed, and with more knowledge than I had going in. Upon entering my car, I already knew how I was going to start forming my article.

The night before publishing, I recieved a text message from Mike. “I have a Droid Incredible 2 on Simple Mobile!” he proclaims. “They said it couldn’t be done.” Apparently, they were wrong. ” I also tweaked Siri to open apps and search Youtube” he says. Hard at work, after work. It’s 11:45pm. He’ll be back at the store before 9 with Lori. Earlier that day the store was closed, but he went in anyway to clean and organize. When you build from the ground up, the store becomes your second home, I guess.

We hear stories everyday about celebrities, politicians, and public figures. I write plenty of articles about the latest devices and up and coming technology from around the world on different publications. This time, though, I felt the need to give some exposure to a smartphone enthusiast that took his curiosity and turned it into a store front success. These stories get published, but not to often. Hopefully Mike and Lori’s achievements help out those on the same path, or with doubts that with hard work and honesty, good things can happen.