City Mac reboots with new co-owner, more service hours and workshops

TRAVERSE CITY – When Greg Nickerson went from employee to co-owner of City Mac back earlier this year he was prepared to face the inevitable changes in his day-to-day job duties.

"(Ownership) thrust me more into the administrative and managerial side of things instead of the service and tech side," said Nickerson, who has been part of City Mac – previously known as Computer Haus – for the last 24 years. "But that was to be expected."

What he wasn't as eager to deal with was the faltering economy and its affect on business; he figured he already had enough on his plate. In November, City Mac – the lone Apple computer store in northern Michigan – relocated to a sleek new 6,100 square feet retail space on South Airport Road, nestled between Mongolian BBQ and MC Sports. In addition to tripling the size of its showroom, the new store added the Digital CafĂ©, which offers coffee, sandwiches and baked goods.

"When we started our move at the end of October things hadn't really dropped off yet," Nickerson said. "November wasn't very good, but then we ended up having a pretty decent December. But after that, things really flattened out."

Still, Nickerson thinks the move paid off.

"I'm afraid of where we would be right now if we hadn't made the move," he said. "We've had a lot more walk in traffic than we ever had before. Location and atmosphere, especially with our coffee bar, has had a lot to do with that."

And despite the economy, Nickerson and his partner Jim Neu, the original owner, have their thoughts on expansion. Neu is currently in North Carolina pursuing the possibility of establishing another City Mac there.

"We're always looking down the road," Nickerson said. "We're looking at opening a store in North Carolina and possibly making a franchise out of it. But we're holding tight right now. I just wish things would loosen up a little (economically)."

In the meantime, Nickerson will continue to focus on selling and servicing what he calls "the best computer in the world" – the Macintosh. A reputation, he said, the company works hard to live up to.

"Apple hasn't come out with any revolutionary stuff lately, but (their products) continue to get faster, smaller and less expensive," Nickerson said. "As far as the tech part of it goes, they continue to pack more and more into them."

Most impressive, he said, is what Apple has done to improve its hand-held devices.

"The applications you can get for the iPod Touch and the iphone are unbelievable," he said, adding that Apple has made a point of simplifying and integrating its devices.

"Your email, appointment calendars, web browsing, cameras – they're all synchronized with your computer," he said. "They're making it much easier to use."

City Mac has been doing its part, as well. The store has put a premium on service, increasing its hours from 52 to 80 hours per week, while also offering a variety of computer workshops.

"We've tried to offer much more in the way of customer service," Nickerson said. "In these times, we think that's extremely important." To sign up for its monthly seminars, go to BN