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March 19, 2014

FirstTech pulls the plug on its Roch. store

FirstTech, the Apple computer store that opened just six months ago in Rochester's Apache Mall, closed its doors for good on Wednesday.

FirstTechclosingsignEmployees say their bosses closed the doors and changed the locks at 11 a.m. and then told the staff about the closing. FirstTech employed 15 people, including the store manager, in Rochester.

A sign on the door of the 3,100-square-foot store said the Rochester location, as well as the main FirstTech store in Minneapolis, are both closing due to lack of profitability.

A FirstTech email said staff will remain at the Rochester store through the end of the week for customers to pick-up orders and/or equipment that had been left there for repairs or maintenance. A doorbell was installed on the store's door. The sign said to ring the bell to arrange pick-up. It also stated that the store will be staffed for pick-ups from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A sticker next to the sign showed that the store was closed, when FedEx came by to pick-up packages from the store.

While the Rochester store is mostly shut down, the Minneapolis FirstTech store will remain open until the end of the month.

The email included this explanation for the abrupt closing, "Over the last two years in particular, the market changes in our industry have been rapid and dramatic. Competition has increased and margins have decreased making it more and more difficult to run our business profitably and still provide the high level of service we are known for."

More details are expected to be posted on the FirstTech website on Thursday.

FirstTech, which described itself as Minnesota's "leading Apple specialist," has sold and serviced Apple equipment, since 1977. It claims to be the oldest reseller of Apple products in the world.

Prior to the Oct. 12 opening of the Apache Mall store, General Manager and Co-owner Pete Paulsen was very optimistic about the project.

"We've done a lot of market research and Rochester is probably the most exciting market in the area. There are great things going on in Rochester and we think it's a great opportunity for us," he said.

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