FirstTech closure a shock to 70 on staff

Credit: Michelle Bruch

Minneapolis’ independent Apple dealer FirstTech is going out of business, closing March 29.

The day after the news broke, the store was filled with customers, and sales staff fielded constant phone calls. Former employee Amy Rummenie tearfully said FirstTech was the only place she ever bought a laptop. She hugged employees and talked with John Heimbuch, who said he roots for local businesses.

“It’s keeping money in the community as much as possible,” he said.

FirstTech Marketing Manager Allan Evans said several factors are contributing to the closure. Profit margins are increasingly shrinking, he said, as Apple essentially takes a bigger cut of sales. Repairs are also down, due to better-built machines. Large national players are able to sell computers well below cost. Target, for example, is testing mini-Apple stores within the retailer.

“We can’t compete with that,” Evans said.

He said that when FirstTech approached its creditor for help following eight months of slow sales and cash flow issues, the creditor responded by freezing credit and seizing the company’s bank accounts, essentially forcing a closure.

“It was a shock for us as well,” Evans said.

Seventy employees are out of work, some of them longtime staff members for up to three decades.

FirstTech’s family owners also own the Hennepin Avenue property, which Evans said would likely be sold to pay off creditors.

FirstTech was founded as a radio repair shop in 1941, and sold Apple technology for more than 35 years.