It’s only 1:30 in the afternoon - the store has only been open since 10 - and Arianne Benford, who lives in Flatbush and has been working at the service desk since August, says she’s taken 25 to 30 calls.
“If people aren’t walking in, they’re calling,” she says. “We’re like the Brooklyn switchboard right now.”
Owner Jeff Graber says he’s used a Mac every day for the last 25 years, and from the day he first used one he was hooked. “My boss saw my interest and put me in charge of all the computer stuff,” he says. “I still couldn’t afford to buy my own. He generously sold me a Mac for one dollar. Then I taught myself everything.”
Realizing he loved working with computers, he submitted a business plan to Apple in 1996. After passing the technical exams required to authorize a company as a service provider and reseller, he set to work.
But friends and neighbors from Brooklyn complained about always having to go to Manhattan to find him for repairs. So Graber eventually moved the store to Ninth Street off Prospect Park West, and in 2007 moved again to his current location, a larger and more welcoming space at 168 7th Street off of Third Avenue in Gowanus.
“Instead of traveling to Manhattan, people can save time and find the same service locally,” says Graber. “Almost every day people thank us for being in Brooklyn.”
But service isn’t limited to the county of Kings. Benford says customers come from Queens and Staten Island, and since a lot of business is conducted over the phone, it’s convenient for residents from all over the city.
As if on cue, she dons a headset to take an incoming call via Skype. The Mac user on the other end is worried about the damage done by some spilled coffee. It doesn’t sound good. “Coffee, coke, and alcohol will eat a computer alive,” Benford says.
But you don’t have to wait for a spill or a crack to head to the Mac store. The art exhibit PROGRAMMED, curated by Michele Jaslow and Spring Hofeldt, is worth a trip all its own. The installations, all made from recycled electronics parts, are meant to spark conversations on recycling.
“One of the curators had a Mac repaired and we began discussing an art show in our space,” says Graber. “We offer free electronic recycling and I suggested we use some of the old electronics for a show. That's how PROGRAMMED began.”
The curators held an open call for submissions and opened the exhibit in December.
A pile of monitors, hard drives, and other indistinguishable parts that turn, tick, and light up - called “Stay Hungry Stay Foolish” by Noah M. Fischer - takes up a majority of the space. Electrical cable flowers hang on the wall next to a reflective collage made from hard drives called “Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall.“
The art is an overwhelming presence in the small space, and yet, says Benford, “this is probably one-third of what we had.”
“This show is a reflection of our business, and that’s important to us,” says Graber. “I’m a creative type, and it’s necessary for me to take a break, enjoy the art, and recharge my batteries. Renewed creativity inspires me to grow the business. I think any business could benefit from directly accessible art that shows their true colors.”
PROGRAMMED is on view at The Mac Support Store (168 7th Street, Gowanus) until March 13, 2010.