Verizon wireless service comes to Dinkytown

The store will be the closest cell phone provider for U students.

by Jennifer Bissell

A Verizon Wireless premium retailer will open in Dinkytown in mid-October, making it the closest cell phone provider location to campus.

Mobile Generations, an independently owned business, is not a corporate Verizon Wireless store, but is an authorized dealer, said Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Karen Smith.

The store, to be at Fourth Street Southeast and 15th Avenue Southeast, will offer phone accessories, Verizon Wireless service plans and Verizon Wireless products including Android and BlackBerry smartphones, store manager Chris Thulin said.

The differences between the premium retailer and corporate stores will be limited to pricing and return policies for phones purchased at different stores, Thulin said.

“Basically, putting the largest distributor — when it comes to wireless — on the [University] campus just made sense for us,” he said, “because there is obviously a need.”

Aside from the corporate retail store downtown, the Mobile Generations location will be the closest Verizon Wireless provider to campus. However, it will not be Dinkytown’s first phone store, Dinkytown Business Association president Skott Johnson, said.

“We’ve had phone stores here before. I don’t know why they came and went, but this seems like the biggest [store] yet,” Johnson said, noting that there seems to be a demand in the neighborhood.

University of Minnesota senior Emma Giebler said she wished the store had moved in earlier.

“I’ve went to Verizon quite a few times over the years. I’ve had a lot of broken phones,” Giebler said. “Now I’m graduating — my loss. But it’s cool. It’s good for the future [students].”

While students don’t typically have much money, Thulin said there is still a strong market for selling mobile devices on a campus.

“The 25-and-under crowd, just in the last few years, has pretty much adopted that method of communication stronger than any age demographic out there,” Thulin said. “Students are in college and that’s an expense within itself, but the next thing that they want after they pay their tuition is a means of communication.”

University of Minnesota new media professor Shayla Thiel-Stern agreed.

“It’s a major mode of communication for students,” Thiel-Stern said. “Many of us feel naked if we leave the house without a cell phone.”

First-year student Kelly Harding, who needs a new phone after some water damage on her current one, said she might consider switching to Verizon with the new store in the area.

“It’d be way convenient if it was right there,” Harding said.