Thursday, June 4, 2015

Fill This Front: Eastern Computer

425 South 15th Street Suite 1

                   Kind of a short one today-- there isn't much info out there about this little spot. However, I sure as shit haven't forgotten about it. After all, when the same occupant manages to hold the same spot for 25 years, there's no reason why that space should have to still be empty around a year later. This, then, is where we try to get this FRONT FILLed!
           From what I can tell, the space Eastern Computer occupied for all that time has a history of being a beauty shop in the 1950s and early 60s, a coffee shop in the late 60s and early 70s, and that's about it. A clothing store got rejected by zoning in 1986. It was in 1989 that Eastern Computer came along and held down the space for 25 goddamn years thereafter.  EASTERN Computer? East of what? How is an Eastern Computer different than a Western Computer?
          Some of you young bulls out there may not understand what a computer store is. Back in the day, there were tons of privately-owned computer stores out there where you could buy retail computers or get a custom one built. You could also buy all the games, peripherals, and other shit you buy at big box stores or online now. This all brings me back to when I was a kid and my Dad wanted to buy a home computer after taking some classes at Rider U. One of his dumb work friends told him that the only way to get a good deal on a computer was to go to a Computer Show and buy one of the ones built by the owner and proprietor of a custom computer store.
        I remember when my parents were gone all day at this computer show in Red Bank, NJ and came home with a gigantic 386/25 equipped with a 2400 baud modem, a 5 1/4 disk drive and a 3 1/2 disk drive, a PC Speaker, and a 40 meg hard drive! The motherfucker didn't even have a mouse! It took forever for my Dad to figure out how to hook it up and by the next night we all got to get a look at the Dos Shell!!

This is what it looked like, except this is 4 versions after the one we had.
          After about 3 months of use playing Life and Death, Alge-blaster Plus, shitty shareware games we'd pick up for $1 or download from BBSes for a million years, the computer broke like a motherfucker. The family now had to bring it up to Piscataway NJ, where the shitbag who built this computer's store was. We did this every 3 months for the next year or so. It was my first computer and it was a fucking lemon. We eventually figured out that we were better off going to the local privately owned computer store in town, Jerry's Custom Computers.
         Jerry himself fixed our computer in an hour and whenever something went wrong with it for the next 4 years, my Dad would call him to get a solution over the phone and then mail him a $15 check. My brother ended up taking the computer with him to college and by the time we bought our second computer, a Pentium/75 with a 1 gig harddrive, a 28.8 bps modem, and a CD-Rom, Jerry's Custom Computers and pretty much every other privately computer store in the burbs had long gone out of business, snuffed out the growth of Dell and big box stores.
       However, in the cities, these stores survived. Even to this day, there are still a few kicking out there, altering themselves to fit the times like Bundy Computer, for example. Others managed to survive for massively long periods of time while carrying the exact same business model-- Eastern Computer, until 2014, was one of them, rocking the corner of 16th and Lombard for 24 years without even changing their sign or the shit in their display window. Even ATM-Computing 2000+ at 53rd and Spruce changed some of their shit up during that time. Others shifted their focus to phones-- you see plenty of what I call the Electronic Junk stores around the city-- not as many in the past few years, however.
        Ok, enough nostalgia about old time PC computing. The empty storefront is what's important. This retail storefront lies at the northeast corner of 15th and Lombard-- a high-foot traffic corner close enough to the University of the Arts, Symphony House, South Street stuff, and other attractions that there's no reason why the right person couldn't make this place shine. Its pretty close to the Broad Street Line and is located on the route of the hard-to-find 40 Bus. However, the 4, 27, and 32 all have stops a block away and serve a large portion of the region.
       I'm not sure what the square footage of the space is but it's pretty small. However, any number of businesses like small spaces like this-- a corner cafe, a small art gallery, you name it. It doesn't appear that this thing is available for lease, at least not yet, but it wouldn't hurt if you called the owners of the Gibson Apts (look is up in OPA) and offered a few bucks to lease this place. What are they gonna do? Turn down extra income?
       However you do it, get on the ball with this one and FILL THIS FRONT!