Kite+Key electrifies U. with gadgets, accessories
The bottom floor of an on-campus dormitory may be an unlikely place to find electronics for sale, but that’s exactly where the new technology store on Livingston campus is located.
Kite+Key opened Oct. 10 as the first tech retail store on Rutgers campus authorized to sell Apple products. It offers a variety of gadgets and accessories at standard prices with built-in student discounts, said Dmitri Tisdale-Stanley, a specialist at the store.
The name pays homage to William Franklin, one of the signees of the Rutgers Charter, which officially established the University. He’s the son of Benjamin Franklin, whose experiment with a key, kite and lightning revolutionized theories on electricity, said Christopher Georgetti, a systems manager at the store.
Michael Pelardis is a senior project administrator for University Housing and oversees housing and development for Livingston campus, including the tech retail store.
He said he first devised a plan to open the on-campus tech store more than two years ago, completing a multi-step review process to finally become an authorized Apple distributor.
“At the end of the day, technology is so integrated into everyone’s lives,” he said. “If a student wants technology at a standard price, they are going to get it with or without us. Our mission is to support them and be a part of the renaissance of integrating technology into education and our lives.”
Conveniently located under Livingston Apartment building A, Kite+Key does not only carry Apple products, despite its Apple-esque interior design. But Apple products have been the most popular so far, said Georgetti, a Mason Gross School of the Arts graduate student.
The non-commissioned staff is primarily made up of former Apple employees trained in the art of concierge-style customer service.
The store sells a range of laptops, desktops and tablets made by Samsung, Dell, Asus and HP, ranging in price from $450 to $1000. MacBooks, iMacs and iPads are sold with Apple’s student discount built-in to the price, taking up to $200 off the Manufacturer's Suggest Retail Price.
Georgetti said if the store doesn’t have a certain product in stock, the store could place an order for the customer.
Kite+Key is not a gadget store just for students, said Tisdale-Stanley, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
“We’ve helped professors find niche things, like laser pointers and can fulfill large department orders for Rutgers staff if they need it,” he said.
Despite its wide product offering, Kite+Key isn’t able to satisfy all technology needs — they cannot do repairs in the store. They sell AppleCare, a form of product service from Apple.
The store now partners with the Office of Information Technology to handle repairs, Georgetti said.
“By Christmas, we hope to be able to check in repairs here,” he said.
Kite+Key does not sell phones and has no plans to do so because extra carrier regulations and training would be required for the store to sell smartphones, he said. The store still sells accessories for popular smartphones.
He said Kite+Key is still trying to get its name out to students by creating accounts on popular social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“We’re going to have a Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale and use a mix of social media and print media to reach out to the student population here,” Georgetti said. “We want this to be the place where a student says, ‘Hey I need a computer — let’s go to Kite+Key.’”
Tyler Gold and Nis Frome are both contributing tech writers for The Daily Targum.
Tyler is an intern at The Verge. You can follow him on Twitter @tylergold.
Nis Frome is the co-founder of Hublished.com. You can follow him on Twitter @nisfrome.