I walked into Tekserve on my 23rd birthday and filled out a job application. Two weeks later I was sitting in the service area1 a few seats away from Harrison Ford, with his PowerBook, as I waited for my first day of training. It was clear this place would be special.
Today is Tekserve’s final day as a retail and service location, after 29 years serving the Apple community. Having not grown up in NYC I didn’t have memories of its early days. I remember it from Apple discussion boards online, back when those were new, and of course from the immortal Sex and the City episode. But then I got to work there. It was my first real adult job. I went in thinking I would spend a few months there. It ended up being over eight years.
I was already a huge Mac nerd, but this job pushed that up to 11. It was an eye opening experience where I really got to know all the things I didn’t know. And this was when Apple really had only two products, Macs and iPods. There was no iPhone, no iPad, no Apple TV.2 My phone was a Treo 650. In fact, for the first year I was the “Palm Guy”. There was a need for that back then.
I don’t think anyone who worked there left without feeling an amazing sense of community. Tekserve was not perfect, goodness knows it was not perfect, and there were a lot of missteps along the way. But the people who worked there were, and remain, among my closest friends. These were smart, interesting, driven people. I learned so much from them, and they learned from me in turn. It was a community. For all the complaints you may have seen of Tek employees as snobbish, aloof hipsters3, the place was, at its best, unapologetically New York. Hard, rough around the edges, but honest and real.
Unfortunately this is really what is being lost. Anyone who follows Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York knows what is happening. The combination of mega-corporate retail, the internet, and the shockingly high rent in New York City is erasing these kind of places. In their place are bland, stale, faceless machines. Whatever your opinion of Tekserve, it was not this.
So even though I have not worked there in nearly two years, it will never forget my time there. Tekserve was the start of a career, the start of friendships, and the start of an entire chapter of my life. It was a special place that existed at a special time. And the Apple community is a little bit less of a community now that Tekserve, and so many of the small Apple Specialists like it are disappearing.
So goodbye Tekserve. We will miss you, but we will never forget you.