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RI’s first Verizon Smart Store opens in Warwick
Beacon photos by Jennifer Rodrigues
VALUABLE DONATION: Judy Earle of the Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center graciously accepted a check for $2,500 from Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine grant program. She said the unexpected donation would be put towards expanding services at the Center, which helps victims of domestic violence.

The Verizon Wireless store on Bald Hill Road has a brand new look. The store celebrated a grand opening as Rhode Island’s first Verizon “Smart Store” on Thursday, promoting a more interactive experience for customers.

Located at 399 Ball Hill Road in the same plaza as UNO Pizzeria, the store now features five Lifestyle Zones where customers can find new gadgets, accessories and gear for their needs. The zones include Get Fit for accessories to monitor health and fitness, Amplify It for wireless speakers or other music gear, Have Fun where kids (and big kids) can find all the latest toys to use with tablets or phones, Home and On The Go, which showcases home monitoring equipment that can be used right on a Smartphone, and Anywhere Business for entrepreneurs or those who need to be able to do business anywhere. And of course, all of Verizon’s cell phones and tablets have their area, filling the back portion of the store.

“They connect to your life and your daily routine,” said Rich Hunter, Verizon Wireless retail sales director, who served as MC for the morning event.

The new style is designed to be hands-on and interactive. Gone are the days of display phones that don’t work and products being hung on the walls. Verizon spokesman Michael Murphy explained this store design does away with the “peg and hook” style and showcases that Verizon is much more than a cell phone provider.

“Just about every product in the store is operational,” said Murphy, pointing out that customers can test everything from the speakers to the home monitoring systems to the phones.

With the phones towards the back, the front of the store is filled with the five Lifestyle Zones, showcasing the variety of accessories available to enhance phones or tablets.

“We’re more than just phones; we’re really a technology provider,” said Murphy. “It’s those accessories that maximize the phones we’re carrying.”

Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian also attended, praising the store for not only the new set-up and bringing 30 jobs to the city but for showing how the area has come back after the 2010 floods. The plaza was one of the locations that closed due to the water damage.

“This was one of the first places to open up again,” said Avedisian.

Now it has grown once again to have one of only five Smart Stores in the region and the only one in Rhode Island.

“The new look and the new feel here is important to show how the city has come back,” added the mayor.

Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce chairman Steven Kitchin echoed the mayor’s sentiment.

“This sends a message that Warwick and Central Rhode Island are open for business,” he said.

The new store also features a workshop area with large, touch-screen displays that serve as teaching spaces for scheduled or by-appointment workshops.

“We will teach you things about your phone. We ask the customer what they want to learn,” said Murphy.

The scheduled workshops will revolve around a specific topic, such as am iOS operating system or a particular phone model, but customers can call to schedule a time to come in and get training for their needs. Not only does this help customers, but Murphy says it helps to determine what training is needed.

“We’re learning more about customers and their questions,” said Murphy.

In addition to the ribbon cutting, the grand opening was an opportunity to present a donation to Warwick’s Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center through the company’s HopeLine program. Through HopeLine, Verizon Wireless collects no-longer-used cell phones, recycles them and donates the proceeds to advocacy groups for survivors of domestic violence. Judy Earle attended the event to accept the check for $2,500 for the Center.

“It will help us continue to do the work we do and expand the service we provide,” said Earle.

The donation was unexpected, which Earle said means it can be used to enhance the budget the organization is currently working with. She hopes to put it towards establishing a new support group and expanding the hours of the center.

“It directly provides support for the work we are doing,” she said.


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