MARYVILLE, Mo. — So, you've spent hundreds of dollars on a top-of-the-line smart phone that suddenly quits working or gets broken.
At best you're looking at an insurance deductible of $200 or $300. And at worst you're going to have to buy a new phone.
Well, not necessarily, according to Andrew Provencio, who owns and operates Cell Phone USA, a repair shop for all things digital located in a small storefront at 105 S. Main St. just south of the downtown square.
Provencio, a retired U.S. Army veteran who left the service after suffering a stroke, has been dabbling with electronics since he was a boy, and though trained as an artillerist spent a lot of his spare time in uniform repairing cell phones and other devices belonging to both officers and his fellow enlistees.
The Alaska native also picked up considerable tech experience via Apple internet courses and while working for CompUSA, the now-liquidated consumer electronics giant.
After years of rescuing phones, televisions, tablets and computers belonging to friends and acquaintances, Provencio said he realized about a year ago that his “hobby” had turned into a de facto business. So last December he rented the South Main space and plugged in the electric “open” sign.
Since then, Provencio said, business has been so brisk he has trouble finding time to clear finished projects from his workbench before having to start the next job.
“It's the greatest problem in the world to have,” he said.
In a time when a lot of consumers have given in to “throwaway culture,” finding it easier simply to discard aging or broken devices than buy new ones, Provencio is something of a throwback to a time when most people opted for getting stuff fixed instead of replaced.
“Almost anything can be repaired,” he said. “Buying a new device is not always the best option.”
By way of example, he picks up a late-model iPhone that looks like it's been hit by a truck. The case is in splinters, and the screen is a spiderweb of cracks and chips.
“This is a $1,000 phone,” Provencio said, “and I can repair it for about $300. People need to realize that in most cases you have the ability to double or triple the lifetime of a device, and the repair cost is usually going to be cheaper than the deductible on your insurance claim.”
Though he'll work on almost anything — including motherboards from arcade games and storm-damaged HVAC and lighting systems — Provencio said most of his business revolves around smart phones and televisions, because those are two things almost everybody owns.
And compared to purchasing a new flatscreen, he said, the price of a typical repair job is quite affordable. Unless a television's screen is cracked or its backlight has failed, Provencio explained, most TV repairs come in at around $150, including labor.
In addition to repair services, Cell Phone USA offers a few basic accessories, though Provencio said he keeps this part of the business fairly bare bones in order to avoid direct competition with local cell phone stores.
And unlike those retail phone shops, Provencio stocks and sells batteries for most common wireless devices. He also maintains an inventory of cords, covers and screen protectors, some of which have been gleaned from used devices.
On other fronts, Cell Phone USA buys, sells and trades pre-owned electronics, including devices that no longer work, as long as the machines are less than about 10 years old.
Of course, not all digital gadgets can be fixed, and some that can aren't worth it. But Provencio said he doesn't charge customers for determining if repair is a better option than replacement.
“We diagnose for free,” he said. “If I can't fix it then you don't pay.”
Cell Phone USA is usually open noon-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Provencio said he also welcomes phone calls and text messages from customers who want to set up an appointment, and that many repairs can be completed on a while-you-wait basis.
The shop's phone number is 660-528-0523, and the business' website is located at cellphoneusa.net.