First Source Cellular is part of the renaissance of Fort Dodge's historic downtown commercial district, but its offerings are very much in sync with the 21st century.
Ryan Davis initially opened his store at 924 Central Ave. in January 2011. Within a short time, however, he said the business had grown so much that he needed more space. In July 2011, the store shifted venue to its present location - 911 Central Ave.
Davis said his business venture began as an enterprise that sold cell phone accessories. Snap-on faceplates and covers were the principal items featured, but the store also stocked a selection of car chargers, wall chargers, data cables, memory cards and Bluetooth headsets. The snap-on faceplates and covers have proved to be big sellers. First Source Cellular typically has in stock 150 different covers.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
First Source Cellular owner Ryan Davis, right, helps Brandon Evans, left, with a cell phone problem recently at his new downtown Fort Dodge location at 911 Central Ave.
As 2011 progressed, First Source Cellular also became an authorized agent for cell phone service providers.
"We became an authorized retailer for i wireless," Davis said. "I wireless is a carrier, a small regional carrier. They are an affiliate of T-Mobile. I wireless has their own towers, usually by small telephone companies. Webster Calhoun Cooperative Telephone Association out of Gowrie is the telephone company that I operate with. ... They invested money into building towers for i wireless here in Webster County."
In 2011, Davis' store also became an agent for Page Plus and this year has added H2O Cellular to the mix.
Cell phone carriers offer various services and technologies. Davis said that because of the diverse options available through the companies he markets, it is possible for him to work with customers to choose just the right arrangements to meet their unique needs at attractive prices.
"Each one has different carriers," Davis said. "Each one has different plans. I like to be able to cater a plan to a customer. Not every customer is the same. ... I try to get a feel for my customers. Do they talk more? Do they text? Do they use the Web? What do they want out of their phone?"
Payment options for cell service include both prepaid and monthly pay plans.
Davis said the trend in the industry is toward prepayment.
"The biggest change I've noticed in the last three years is more people are migrating from plans to prepaid," he said. "In Europe, over 70 percent of the people are on prepaid. I think you're going to see that here in the States."
The selection of phones available to consumers keeps growing and through the companies it represents First Source Cellular is able to offer its clients approximately two dozen different models. Brands available include Alcatel, BlackBerry, HTC and Samsung.
"They range from $19.99 to $539.99," Davis said.
He said one of the attractions of some of the service plans he offers is that people who are shifting from another carrier, but like their current phones will find them to be compatible.
Reflecting on the trends in cell phone hardware, Davis said smartphones are rapidly developing a following.
"People are migrating to smartphones, which are like miniature computers," he said. "They do practically everything."
Acknowledging that he had some concern about the timing of his business launch given the economic slowdown nationally, Davis said it turns out cell phones are regarded by people as on the list of life's necessities. His store has thrived.
"Everybody's got a cell phone," he said. "It's almost like they can't be without it."
To the extent, however, that last few years have caused more people to be frugal, that trend is also very much in sync with what First Source Cellular has to offer.
"Actually, I would encourage people to shop around, check all those other places, figure out the pricing, read the fine print," Davis said. "When you've checked out everybody else's, come down and let us know what you do. We'll try to find a plan that's best for you and save you some money. ... Get the best value for the money."
First Source Cellular is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Wednesdays, the store opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday the store hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Davis said that during the summer months extended hours will be in effect.
Contact Terrence Dwyer at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org