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Alaska Used Computer Source.

In a dog-eat-dog world where discount and department stores sell everything from peanut butter to building supplies, Alaska Used Computer Source -- by dealing only in computers -- meets its competition while carving a unique market niche.

"We're on the few, and maybe the only store in Alaska, taking trade-ins," says Harry Davidson, owner and founder of the no-frills, mid-town Anchorage store. The business is two-and-a-half years old and growing.

It's grown beyond the definition of its name and, even though Davidson has no plans to rename his store, he explains that the business boasts three distinct arms.

Foremost is the used computer business, selling complete used computer systems, printers and peripherals. The idea came to Davidson a few years ago when he realized there was a huge surplus of very good used equipment just being warehoused.

"Businesses, such as oil companies, Native corporations and attorneys, were upgrading, and the old was being left behind," he says. "I heard of a store in Sacramento, Calif., selling used merchandise, and I visited it to see how it worked."

When Davidson returned to Alaska, a major Anchorage business was being liquidated, and all of its computer equipment was sold at auction. Much of it became the store's first inventory. Today, the lion's share of equipment available at the Alaska Used Computer Source is there because individuals and companies want, or need, to upgrade. All merchandise is Apple/Macintosh, IBM/IBM compatible or other micro-computers that can be reconfigured to be IBM compatible.

According to Davidson, a good basic used IBM-compatible XT class machine with a 20-megabyte hard drive equipped with monitor and keyboard runs around $400. An AT class computer would be in the $550 range, while a "386" would begin at about $850.

But selling used merchandise isn't the whole story. The second arm of the business encompasses a complete computer service center that repairs and upgrades equipment. "You may not need a new computer if you're dissatisfied with what you have," Davidson says. "We offer free appraisals for an existing system to see if it's cost effective to upgrade. Many inexpensive models sold in department stores can't be upgraded, so before buying, it pays to think about whether there's a chance of outgrowing that inexpensive model.

"We have customers all over the state and have shipped computers to eastern Russia. Customers can be confident in the technical and telephone support we provide with what we sell," Davidson says.

It's this technical expertise and service orientation that drives the third arm of the business, catering to an ever-growing market of customers wanting a computer built to their own specifications more RAM, more screen, more security. "Today, half our sales are in new, custom-made equipment we build ourselves," he says.

Davidson describes a dream machine for a customer with a sky's-the-limit budget. This custom model would be a multi-media system, with large screen and compact disk player, sound board, stereo speakers, 300 or more megabyte hard drive, data tape backup unit for data security, special keyboard, special mouse or track ball or a pen-pointing device. Some people want it all.

"Multi-media systems are the newest trend in business," Davidson says. "We build an IBM-compatible clone and add anything the customer wants or needs for business or personal use."

The Alaska Used Computer Source is currently building a complete system for a Russian customer to include a 220-volt color VGA monitor and 220-volt printer with Cyrillic printer font and Cyrillic keyboard. It will also have a switchable power source. "We have good freight contacts with Russia," Davidson says. As business grows in eastern Russia, building Russian computers may also become a trend.

Aside from selling, upgrading and building computers, Davidson says his company does appraisals for tax purposes or donations. "Before we opened, there was no way to know how to price used equipment," he says. "We've helped establish a standard in pricing."

The Alaska Used Computer Source is more than its name implies. It offers an alternative when a used machine will do as well as a new one. It's a place to shop when buying a first computer and it's a good place to shop when price is no object and you're buying the dream machine -- the one with everything -- the one that can't be bought in a department store.

For more information, contact:

Alaska Used Computer Source 601 W. 36th Avenue, Ste. 15 Anchorage, Alaska 99503 Telephone: (907) 562-7107 Fax: (907) 562-5524
COPYRIGHT 1992 Alaska Business Publishing Company, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:expansion of services
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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