Q&A with Andy Howard of Downtown Phone RepairJanuary 24, 2019
Drop your phone and crack the screen recently? Or maybe the battery life on your iPhone isn't quite what it used to be? City Market has the fix at Downtown Phone Repair, housed on our upper mezzanine level. We asked owner and chief phone savior Andy Howard a few questions about fixing up people's phones!
- What is your background?
I went to school for math and statistics and worked in the insurance industry for over 10 years. I like it, but I definitely didn’t love it. When my kids were born, I decided to branch out on my own, so I quit my job and started freelancing.
- How did you get started fixing phones?
I started out selling repair parts for phones, but after ordering the bulk parts, packaging them, listing them, and taking the orders to the post office, I was netting only a buck or two an hour for all that work. I had all the parts sitting around so I decided maybe I could just fix phones.
- Have you always had an interest in electronics and their inner workings?
In general, yes. My brother and I took apart some radios and TVs as kids just to see what was in there. In middle school, we got a computer and I would spend hours playing shareware games and playing with Microsoft Paint. I got the internet when I was in high school and that took me to the next level.
- What led to you opening Downtown Phone Repair in the City Market?
When I decided to start fixing phones, I looked for a place to do business. Most of the spots around downtown Indy were 2,000sqft and $2500/mo. That was just totally unaffordable and I only really needed about 100sqft. I was getting my haircut by Brenda at Jack’s Barbershop downstairs in the Market at the same time as Stevi. Stevi told me about the carts and I was sold. It was the exact size and the right price.
- How has being located in City Market, and in downtown Indy, impacted your business?
My business exists almost exclusively from two sources. The first source is walk-ups. People pop into the Market all the time to eat lunch. They are always surprised and happy to find a phone repair place so they don’t have to go to some other part of the city to get their phone fixed. The second source is returning customers. Trust me, there are some folks who visit me every 6 months.
- Do you exclusively work on iPhones or do you fix other phones and devices as well?
I stick mostly to iPhones, though I can do other stuff. They are very easy to repair and the value of the phone is typically quite a bit more than the repair. With Android devices, neither of those are typically true. They are much more difficult and expensive to repair, and they just don’t hold their value as well as an iPhone.
- What are you most proud of about your business?
The quality of my workmanship is the best you are going to find in the phone repair business. Other shops save money by buying cheap parts or hiring someone for minimum wage. That is not going to lead to happy customers. I provide the best quality and customer service I can, because I want to be proud of the business I run.
- What is next for Downtown Phone Repair?
In the near term, I’m always trying to make sure I’m up to date on repairing the latest model of phones. For the long-term, it would be nice to expand, but finding a location and figuring out how that fits in with my current one-man-shop set up is pretty daunting. I’d probably sum up my answer to this question as: We’ll see…