It seems silly now to imagine that some of us groused about the opening of a “Mini-Mall” in the Realform Girdle Building– it just seemed so yuppie-ish and suburban and right there on Bedford and North 5th, like the places we’d escaped to get to New York. If you can image, “gentrification” wasn’t yet a watchword.
But by 2001, along with the Verb Café (RIP, well sorta– there’s a Verb 2.0 in Greenpoint) and the Internet Garage (read: before email was on your phone, you’d stop by here to “Get high on speed!!!11” as their Facebook page advises), you could stop by Mikey’s Hookup and play ping pong while picking up a guitar cord.
By 2005 Mikey had expanded and moved around the corner to North 6th Street—a block from Galapagos (which later ran away from rising rents and found their way to Dumbo somewhat absurdly, then Detroit) and close to Plan-eat Thai—and he briefly opened another store in Dumbo.
When Mikey’s became an Authorized Apple Service Provider, lugging your heavy-ass Macs to Tekserve on Sixth Avenue in the City to drink a 5-cent Coke and wait for your number to appear on a Classic Mac, was, like, so 1999. You just dropped it off at Mikey’s.
Now the legendary Tekserve is closed after 29 years in business, squeezed out by Apple Stores and high rents, as reported by Cult of Mac, which made us wonder, what’s happening with Mikey’s? Didn’t Williamsburg’s very own Apple Store just open across from the Whole Paycheck on Bedford? Are we going to lose our beloved Hookup now, too?
So we called Mikey himself, aka Mikey Weiss:
“Here’s the thing people are shocked to hear,” he said. “Since the Apple Store opened, our repairs have tripled. Tripled in volume of the people dropping off repairs. Just in the past 2 weeks.”
Dumbfounded, we just let him continue.
“Already before they opened, the Soho and 14th Street stores were already sending people to us, so I had a feeling if they were four blocks away it was gonna be kinda nuts. But then when Tekserve decided to close their doors, thousands of customers now are trying to find places to go, and we’re on the list of the next Apple Authorized Repair Center. So it’s been kind of mayhem in the past couple weeks.”
Mikey was quick to let us know that his technicians are handling the workload, “kicking ass,” and getting the work done, while the store reorganizes to take in more computers than they ever have before. He’s also picking up some staff from Tekserve. “I’ve been interviewing a couple people this week,” he said, since half his employees were already former Tekservers.
Mikey even took a couple of meetings with David Lerner, owner and founder of Tekserve, to talk about their closing. Lerner actually made the most un-business-school-like business move of all time and suggested that his old customers bring all their computer concerns to Mikey’s. Lerner even gave Mikey a “behind-the-scenes” tour of Tekserve, and the latter returned the favor.
“He’s a really nice guy– he came in last week and I gave him a tour of our store, it kind of reminded him of back in the old days of Tekserve,” Mikey recalled.
But the friendliness hasn’t been solely between the small business owners, Mikey’s also seen some support from– gasp!– the Apple Store. And it’s easy to see why he’s so busy.
As Mikey put it: “The thing is, Apple really doesn’t repair as much as people think they do.” And instead of simply advising people to toss out their $3,000 MacBook Pros, the Geniuses will send their customers with certain repair needs across the way. “They immediately send you to us, to save your data and repair your computer,” he explained.
It gets better. “This new Apple Store is very different from others,” Mikey said. “If you go in and look around, you actually don’t even see any accessories or products– they don’t really have anything. They just sell Apple products, and maybe the smallest handful of extra accessories.” I bet you can guess what that means, huh? “So the Apple Store is just constantly telling people to come to us—for accessories and cables and hard drives and adapters,” Mikey said. “It’s been kind of a cool partnership, with them being really nice. And we send people to them, because [for example] we don’t repair phones.”
It might be the first good gentrification story to come out of Williamsburg.
“I already knew this was gonna happen, but I didn’t know Tekserve was gonna close at the same time, which was crazy,” Mikey said. “I’ll miss Tekserve as much as anyone else, they did a great thing for thousands and thousands of customers—it’s a shame to see them go. Hopefully we can pick up where they left off.”
In even better news, Mikey just renewed his lease last year, and says he’ll be in the neighborhood for many more years to come. “I’m just as shocked as everyone else, really. For years I was kinda growing my business because I was afraid of what was to come, and when the big box corporate store finally moved in it actually helped out in the end. Something I didn’t expect.”
Disclosure: Mikey’s Hookup once rescued my data from a failed harddrive—something the Apple Store said they couldn’t do—in 3 days, for under 300 dollars.