By Emily J. Weitz
When you think of a mom and pop shop, the first thing that comes to mind might be a hardware store or a general store, or even a little boutique. A wireless retailer might not seem like the classic small-town business. But in the age of the Internet and cell phones, our world has gotten rapidly more plugged in. And that means that the little local shop that can connect you to the world is a key component of Main Street.
Todd Powell, owner of both Bridgehampton and East Hampton Wireless, has worked to create a small-town feel in his shops.
“Our shops are unique because of our customer service,” he says. “Our locations have been designed to bring that Hamptons feel to a customer’s visit, and to offer small-town comfort.”
When you’re selling something that feels as far from homemade and old-fashioned as an iPhone, it’s a different kind of challenge to bring about that personal feel. But it usually comes back to the same practices.
“Most of the time, my team and I greet you by name, know your account history and are familiar with your ongoing needs. We offer customers emergency replacement service in difficult situations, guaranteed accessory replacement for malfunctions, unique billing analysis, and credit retrieval on billing issues.”
Supporting local business is a beloved concept in the home of the Save Sag Harbor movement. But the economy is tough, and the Internet has become the place to go for the best deals out there. This has a profound effect on local business, but Powell’s argument for supporting local business is far from altruistic.
“Where you buy your phone is critical,” he says. “When you activate a new line of service or upgrade your service to new equipment, any mechanical problems with the phone needs to be addressed with the location you purchased the equipment from.”
In other words, you buy a phone on the Internet, you’re going to get Internet assistance. It’s one thing to enter your credit card information and make a purchase online, but it’s quite another to navigate through the “Frequently Asked Questions” to try to solve a malfunction in your device. It’s that value of eye contact and a compassionate listener that Powell’s wireless stores provide.
“Also,” he adds, “we have always matched any legitimate advertised price online by AT&T.”
Bridgehampton Wireless opened in 2006, and the location in East Hampton opened in 2010. They are AT&T Exclusive Retailer locations, which means they have been approved by AT&T to sell these products.
“The process to become an approved exclusive retailer is not an easy one,” says Powell. “A retailer has to reach rigorous benchmarks by AT&T to receive that designation.”
Since Bridgehampton Wireless opened its doors, the wireless business has evolved tremendously, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
“I believe the change in the business is upon us as we speak,” says Powell.
He is grateful to his team, which provides customers with “The ability to have knowledgeable, understanding support to properly guide [them] through [their] needs and, most important to point out what might be coming down the road shortly so [they] can properly plan a purchase.”
With the small town wireless retailer, it’s like anything else. If you go to your hometown doctor, he or she will be there to check out an illness, but also to monitor your status as you heal. A phone or wireless device requires the same ongoing support. The initial purchase is only a part of the relationship, just as it’s only a fraction of the business.
“Our company philosophy is to properly place you in the right technology and wireless plans to fit your needs and offer you the quickest learning curve with the fewest headaches,” says Powell.
As these small-town wireless shops establish themselves more firmly in the community, they also try to give back. Because the East End has supported them, “We support local charities and high school programs through donations as a way of saying thank you,” says Powell. “Our team is grateful to the East End community.”