A Neighborhood Enterprise For The 21st Century Years ago, at-home service was common. From New York to California there are now repair people who will pull up in their vans, and, in just a few minutes, fix your mp3 player, or your iPhone.
NPR logo

A Neighborhood Enterprise For The 21st Century

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/106876617/106876596" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
A Neighborhood Enterprise For The 21st Century

A Neighborhood Enterprise For The 21st Century

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/106876617/106876596" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

NPR's Margot Adler reports.

MARGOT ADLER: Demetrios Leontaris sometimes calls himself the iPod doctor and his license plate says exactly that. But the first thing you notice is how many people come up to his van and ask him for a business card.

DEMETRIOS LEONTARIS: Unidentified Man: Okay, thanks a lot. Do you work with Macintosh?

ADLER: Leontaris has repaired cell phones, laptops, and digital music players. And he says his business got started by chance.

LEONTARIS: I fell in love with the iPod when I saw one. I really didn't have money to buy one. So, I bought a broken one thinking I'd get it fixed by Apple for a decent price.

ADLER: But he found out Apple's repair prices were too steep. So he bought another broken iPod for the parts. Took them both apart and fixed one of them. Before he knew it...

LEONTARIS: I just kept running into people with broken iPods that wanted them fixed.

ADLER: Whether your Blackberry has a cracked screen or you threw your Zune into the laundry, Leontaris generally has a fix. He sees about 10-15 clients a day and has two technicians working for him. He picks up his phone which rests on his knee.

LEONTARIS: Hi Eddie(ph) how are you? I'm here. I'm at 86th and Third right by the Banana Republic. It's across the street from the Papaya King, can't miss me.

ADLER: Do you have all your tools with you?

LEONTARIS: Yeah. I keep them either in the cup holder here or in my bag. But everything is pretty portable.

ADLER: Leontaris sits behind the wheel in his black van. His seat belt is buckled. He has a tiny silver toolkit, the size of a lunch box that sits on his lap and also acts as a worktable. Eddie Gonzalez and his son bring two iPods. One needs a new battery, which has to be soldered in the shop. The click wheel is broken on the other one.

LEONTARIS: Yep. There's a fairly simple explanation for this. There's a - there's a rubber piece behind the button that slipped down out of place. So basically we're going to put it back into the place now.

ADLER: It costs Gonzalez $49. Gonzalez found Leontaris on the Internet, of course, saw a couple of nice reviews.

EDDIE GONZALEZ: They're all true, right?

LEONTARIS: Yes.

GONZALEZ: Okay.

ADLER: So that's how you heard about him?

GONZALEZ: That's correct.

ADLER: Leontaris says his business goes in cycles. Students want their laptops fixed before school reopens. Winter break and spring breaks are hot times. But the worst time is just before Christmas, because people are waiting to see what they'll get.

LEONTARIS: I've actually had people tell me on the phone, well, let me see if I get a new one for Christmas and I'll call you back next week.

ADLER: Unidentified Woman: How did it happen?

SHANTY KING: Unidentified Man: She sat on it. She sat on her bag with the phones was in there.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ADLER: Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.