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New wireless phone and tablet store open on Massachusetts Street; John Brown to make return to downtown?
Sure, there are still all the usual things you can do in downtown Lawrence after having a nice dinner. You can take a leisurely stroll down Massachusetts Street. You can have a cupcake, or two, at one of the many such shops. You can get four or five dips of ice cream for your three or four cupcakes. You can find a bench to stop all this strolling because you're getting cupcake and ice cream all over your shirt, and you are a bit out of breath. You know, all the usual stuff.
But now there is a new activity to add to the list: Play with the latest smart phones and tablets. A new store that sells smart phones, tablets and hundreds of accessories to go with them has opened at 815 Massachusetts St.
Mobilosity is in the space that used to house the tuxedo shop next to Marks Jewelers. Co-owner Oliver Gans said the store stocks about 700 products ranging from headphones to chargers to batteries to stylish cases for phones and tablets. And yes, the store also carries the actual devices. Currently, the store is carrying Apple iPhones, iPads, Kindle Fire, Kindle e-readers, and Blue phones, a brand that competes with the popular Samsung phones. In the coming weeks, the store also expects to stock Samsung smart phones.
On the accessory side, the store carries brands including Sony, Belkin, Monster Beats, Otterbox and many others. The store also offers some cell phone repair services, such as fixing cracked screens, battery replacement and a few other repairs. Currently it is offering service only for iPhones, but Gans said the store is working to expand the service to Samsung phones and a variety of tablets.
Gans — who co-owns the store with business partners Gabriel and Charles Wargin — said he wants the store to have the feel of an Apple store, but with a broader selection of brands and products.
"We want it to be a store that is very engaging where people can come in and play with the devices and the accessories," Gans said. "We want it to be very different than the big box stores."
Gans said that is why the company decided to locate its first store in downtown Lawrence. He said the group likes the idea that people may just want to stop by while they are enjoying an evening on Massachusetts Street.
The store, which opened last week, has hours of 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
"But recently, we had so many people in here at 8 p.m. that we weren't able to close the doors until 9 p.m.," Gans said. "That's a good problem to have."
In other news and notes from around town:
• I don't know if John Brown ever had an iPhone, but he soon will have his own drinking establishment in downtown. (Wow, think of John Brown on Twitter.)
The city is set to issue a drinking establishment license for John Brown Underground at 7 E. Seventh St. If you are having a hard time picturing the space, it is the basement level spot that used to house the Game Guy video game store. But thus far, the fellows behind John Brown Underground are a bit more shy than their namesake was. According to the drinking establishment license, Scott Elliott is a partner in the business. I believe that is the same Scott Elliott who is part of the ownership group at The Summit, the downtown health club at Ninth and New Hampshire. I've got a call into him, but haven't heard back yet.
A few weeks ago, I did talk to Lawrence businessman Doug Compton about the project. Compton is the landlord for the building. He told me the business was going to have a "speak-easy" feel to it, although that has made me more curious than anything else. It is my understanding that the business can't be just a traditional bar, but will have to make the majority of its revenue from food sales in order to meet city zoning regulations for downtown. I haven't heard yet what the food component of the business may be.
But it is one cool name, and it is within stumbling distance of the News Center, so I'll be sure to stay on the trail of John Brown and let you know any details I find.
• One other quick downtown development note: It looks like Lawrence Bank is going to move its downtown branch for a time into the spot that used to house Central National Bank at Eighth and Massachusetts. The location just will be a temporary spot while a new multistory building is constructed at the northeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets, which is where the bank is currently located. When completed, Lawrence Bank will occupy the ground floor of that office/apartment building.
But the temporary move does involve a twist. The company is asking for the exclusive use of two on-street parking spaces along Eighth Street that are adjacent to the bank building. In addition, the bank wants to place a canopy-like device over the two spaces. See below for a picture of the canopy. The bank, according to the request filed by Lawrence architect Paul Werner, is trying to provide something close to drive-thru service for their customers. The bank is offering to pay the city $192 per year, per parking space for use of the spaces. That's how much it costs for a parking permit downtown, although permits obviously don't allow you the exclusive use of any parking spot downtown.
City staff members are reviewing the request and will take a recommendation to city commissioners.
As for the multistory apartment building project, look for it to begin sooner rather than later. Compton has long said he would like to start construction before the end of this year on the project. Construction work in the area, however, is complicated by the work that is underway on the new Marriott hotel being constructed on the southeast corner of the intersection. That project — which also is being built by a group led by Compton — is moving right along. An architect on the project told me the goal is to have the hotel open by the end of this year.