Temple opens first technology retail store on campus

OWLtech, which offers discounted electronics and an equipment recycling service, opened in Pearson Hall on Thursday.

About 150 students and staff attended the OWLtech grand opening at Pearson Hall on Thursday. | LUKE SMITH / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Information Technology Services opened Temple University’s first retail technology store, OWLtech, in Pearson Hall on Thursday.

OWLtech will offer technology products including computers, tablets and accessories, from Apple, Windows, Dell and Microsoft, both in store and online. It will also provide tech support and a repair center similar to the Apple Store’s Genius Bar that will open before the summer, said Robert Gaynor, the computer store’s manager. 

“I love the idea of this store being a resource for not only the students, but the community itself,” Gaynor said. “Now, students do not have to leave campus. …It’s not great to have to tell students that they have to go to the Apple [Store on] Walnut [Street] to get their item either repaired or to purchase something. It keeps it on campus.” 

Provost JoAnne Epps and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Clark, who oversaw the planning, design and construction of the store, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony with about 150 students and faculty to celebrate the opening of the story, which raffled off an iPad and AirPods.  

The store is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and accepts Diamond Dollars, credit and debit cards, Apple Pay and Android Pay. While the store originally planned to not accept cash payments, it will begin accepting them in the summer to comply with a city law passed in February that requires businesses to accept cash, Gaynor said.

Students, alumni and faculty can receive a discount on Apple products typically ranging from $50-$200 by verifying their Temple email addresses and showing their OWLcards upon checkout, Gaynor said. The prices listed at the store for Apple products have the discount already applied, and OWLtech will aim to provide Microsoft products that are “affordable,” he added.

“…We wanted to extend new technology with a focus of providing better service for the students to make it easier for students to access the technology they may need to get through school,” said Cindy Leavitt, the vice president of ITS.

Gaynor will manage the store full-time along with Kyle Dumond, the assistant store manager. Students employed by ITS will work part-time at the store and have a range of majors and backgrounds, Gaynor said.

The store also bridges with the Computer Recycling Center, which collects, refurbishes and sells used computer and electronic equipment back to the Temple community or donates and properly disposes of unwanted technology.

North Philadelphia residents will be able to access the store’s repair services and purchase some technology products like Apple Watches and non-Apple products, but they will not be able to purchase “big-ticket” Apple products licensed for students and staff due to the educational discount and the university’s agreement with the company, said Bill McMaster, director systems of ITS.

The project cost $1.22 million to complete, Leavitt told The Temple News in September 2018. While OWLtech has been in the works for about eight years, it experienced several hiccups throughout its development due to construction and supplier delays and the search for money and space to make it happen, McMaster said.

OWLtech took over the space where Pearson’s Hall rock-climbing wall was in 2017 after a new wall was built in the Student Training and Recreation Complex. 

The store’s AirPod 2s sold out the first day the store was open and are now on back-order, McMaster said.  

“We’re selling things, so we’re providing a need,” he added.

Ernest Holland, a freshman film and media arts major, said it will be helpful for students who aren’t Philadelphia natives to have a nearby store for Apple products. 

“Now they have a place they can go to for their electronic needs and feel comfortable, because it’s right on campus,” Holland said. “People can get assistance and have like a ‘mini Apple Store’ right at their fingertips.”

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