Updates from The Cellar: June 2020

Greetings, programs!

We wanted to give the community a quick update on where we’re at and where we’re going. First off, a huge thanks to the Durham area for being generally compliant with our requests for safety and social distancing measures in our shop. We feel very lucky that we’ve been able to stay open without any breaks in our operation, and we are continuing to take measures to ensure that both we and our staff stay safe and don’t get sick.

In the meantime, some have noticed some changes around here: we’ve finally formally introduced a streamlined, modern logo that’s far easier to read, reduces better, and is far more flexible in usages. We rolled out that logo first across social platforms, then our website, and finally on team clothing; and we hope to get all our exterior signage updated by this fall. In addition to the new logo, our new exterior signage features improved readability and revised copy that should make us (at least a little) easier to find and our offered services a little more clear.

We also finally took the time to revise our website’s front end; both in macro ways (a complete rewrite of the copy and revision of the overall formatting) and micro (tiny adjustments to text sizes, kerning, iconography, colors, etc. to improve readability and focus).

We’ve also made some adjustments, mostly small ones, to the services we offer and how we offer them. In order to maximize the use of time that we have and minimize costs to the customer, we’ve tightened our focus to our core competencies and removed many “fluff” services that we aren’t really equipped to handle. We’re also being a bit more strict about ages of devices that we can and can’t service, or doing work within outdated/unsupported operating systems.

Making sure we keep our focus narrow means we can provide the best service possible to all our customers at the fairest price. To that end a lot of the “consultation” (i.e., “handholding”) type-stuff we used to do has basically been eliminated, though we always try to direct our customers to the best possible resource for their specific needs when it’s not us.

There’s still more refinements ahead – among other things, we’re working with the city of Durham and owners of the buildings adjacent to Alley 8 to try to have accessibility improvements done for customers coming in off of 9th. Yes, we know those alley steps are kind of dangerous, and we’re working on it!

These adjustments and improvements, plus the increased workflow following COVID-19, have been stressful on all of us. Between our operating hours and our staff size, it means we’re basically all-hands-on-deck most of the time. It’s really difficult for any one of us to use any vacation time (especially for several days in one go) because of our rate of business and how hard it is for just two techs to manage the shop on their own.

Last year, we decided to tackle this problem by simply closing the shop for the entire week leading up to the 4th of July holiday. This year, we’ve decided to take a week off again – but this time it’ll be the first week of August (8/3-8/7). During this time there will be no pick ups, drop-offs, phones answered, responses to site contact form submissions, etc. We’ll be in touch with anyone who has a computer currently in for repair to warn them to make sure to pick up by July 31.

We genuinely appreciate your patience with us during our break week, and we look forward to jumping back in on August 10 to help keep your devices running!

<3, Gabriel, Simon, Newell, and Daryn

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