141 S Allegheny St. Bellefonte, PA 16823
This is the ninth article in a series spotlighting some of the local businesses in Bellefonte. Pop into one of these participating businesses- Alleycat Quiltworks, Bella Vino Wine Bar, Jake’s Cards & Games, Iron Star Trading Company, M&M Copy Service, Brother's Pizzeria, Pizza Mia, Elite Edge Athletics, Wireless Made Simple, Blonde Bistro, Bellefonte Art Museum or Bonfatto's- starting on Small Business Saturday, November 24th (and for a limited time after), to pick up your FREE BFT decal. It's our way of saying thanks for supporting all the independent shops and eateries that help keep Bellefonte so remarkably unique.
By Serge Bielanko
When I say the words 'Christmas shopping' to you, what do you think of right off the bat?
The mall? The outlet stores down around Lancaster? Maybe a holiday market or two in a church basement or something? And Amazon, of course.
One place you probably don't think about at first when you start running through all of your last minute holiday shopping memories is the cell phone shop down on the corner, huh? I mean, why would you, right?! People don't shop for gifts in the cell phone store!
The answer is going to surprise you, same as it surprised me. Because the answer is a resounding YES. They sure do. In fact, as it turns out, people who are stealthy and skilled in the ancient arts of always picking out the coolest, most sophisticated and personal presents to give to loved ones have LONG known what you and I have been ignoring forever.
And that's this. Cell phone stores are where it's at for holiday shopping.
Because they're actually a great place to find presents that are both personal and seriously useful. Which is, sorry to break it to you, not something that would describe most of the gifts we've been giving out for years now.
Case in point? You bet. I'll go you one further. I'll steer you right up to the front door of a locally-owned small business that you probably already know about but have never fully considered on your December shopping trips. I'm talking about Wireless Made Simple at 141 South Allegheny Street. You know the place. I know you do. It's basically the first downtown shop you run into if you roll into Bellefonte down Bishop Street and it's been there for quite a long time. Since 2004 to be exact. One of several Central Pennsylvania Verizon shops owned and operated by Centre County guy, Eric Bruckner, Wireless Made Simple has a lot more to offer creative gift-givers than any of us realize.
Like what, you ask?
Good question. I decided to put them to the man himself, find out everything I could possibly find out about why Wireless Made Simple is a truly hidden gem in the crown jewel of the whole downtown Bellefonte holiday shopping experience.
This is a shop that is an important part of the scene here and sells something that practically every human being on the planet wants...or even needs. I'm talking about technology. The future. The here and now and the tomorrow, too. This town has lots of yesterdays for sale. But what about people who want to buy a piece of the future for someone they love this Christmas.
Let's find out what we never knew until now, shall we?
Bellefonte.com: Most people maybe don't think of a wireless shop as the first place they might hit up to grab some cool holiday gifts for family and friends, but that's what makes this whole thing so unique. Because it actually IS a great place to find presents that are both personal and seriously useful. Can you tell us some gift ideas you guys offer that would make anyone smile on Christmas morning?
Eric Bruckner: Absolutely! The most obvious thing we offer is cell phones, which family members often buy for one another. But then we also offer a ton of things people do not realize. We have a great home phone replacement service that gives you unlimited US calling for $20/mo and many people love this as a gift idea for people that want to keep that home phone. We also have tablets, smart watches for adults and kids, vehicle safety devices for new or elderly drivers and so many more. Then when it comes to Stocking Stuffers, we have wireless bluetooth headsets and speakers, cases and mounts, wireless and corded chargers and usb cords, glass protectors, pop sockets and so many more items. You could literally buy multiple gifts and stocking stuffers for almost all ages of friends and family members!
BFT: Do you have any specials or special events happening in the shop this December?
EB: We do. We always have great promotions throughout the month. There should be a BOGO coming and we always have an in store promotion (our stores only) that allow you to purchase qualifying phones and bundles them with a tablet or vehicle safety device that turns most cars into smart safe cars, and get up to a $300 in store or bill credit. This is huge for people that are maybe behind on a bill or want to free up some spending money for other holiday shopping, or maybe have a broken device with some payments left on it. Other stores do not offer this package. The store's new Manager, Ryan Barnett, is doing an amazing job running the store and has it all set up for Christmas and the holidays! He is even having an ugly Christmas sweater weekend, the weekend before Christmas!
BFT: What's your favorite thing about Bellefonte during the holidays?
EB: The cozy friendliness. Having been downtown for 14 years now and having lived here for nearly 20 years, we have gotten to know so many people and everyone is so friendly. Most people smile and say hello, and it is just such a warm feeling. We are locally owned and keep most of our revenue in the community, too. Some of the other stores in the area take their profits and send them to other places. Being local has always been very important to us, and we do everything we can to help the local community. In February we donate hundreds of teacher supply kits to local schools, and in August, we donate hundreds of school supply filled backpacks to local students that may need help with school supplies. We also donate food to the food bank in town when we can, including 10 complete Thanksgiving meals last year.
Many people do not realize that they can choose to go to any Verizon store that they want. Many people think they have to stay at the store they are at or go to the corporate store on North Atherton and not shop local. We are truly a locally owned distributor for a national service, and we have the same or better deals, all the time.
BFT: Cell phones are such an intrinsic part of our lives now, but the culture of what's new and available can be overwhelming to many of us. Can you help shoppers decide what they might want to get someone on their list?
EB: It is hard to buy a phone for a new user without them being there to "try it on". Different sizes, different volumes, different durabilities, just so many variables. If you are looking to get a phone for someone, we recommend bringing them in, or getting them a gift certificate so they can come in later and get the one that fits them the best. Many stores try to get you to buy the items they need to sell. Since the first day we opened, our philosophy has always been to ask questions and find out exactly what you need and why, then find the perfect fit. If it is not a phone you are looking for, then it is hard to go wrong with a wireless charger, or phone mount, or glass protection with a $300 repair guarantee, or any other generic item like that.
BFT: Between me and you: does Santa have an iPhone or a Galaxy or what?
EB: If I had to guess, I would say Android. iPhones are simpler to use, but are not as customizable, outside of the Apple ecosystem. Funny little number that is the same industry wide, I usually have around 30 employees between our 4 stores. At any given time, there are usually about 3-5 iPhone users, the rest are android. It is much more preferred by workers in the industry, who are more familiar and trained on how to use them beyond the obvious uses.
There you have it.
Add Wireless Made Simple to your ever-growing list of locally-owned businesses where you can shop for holiday gifts.
And if you stop in to say hi to Eric or his co-workers soon, make sure you grab a BFT sticker to show your Bellefonte love to the world. The stickers are absolutely free. It's Bellefonte.com's way of saying thanks to all of you who support our community's cherished small businesses.
Wireless Made Simple
141 S Allegheny St.
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 16823
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