When James Lee created his latest business, Hub, he envisioned something special. He didn't want it to be "just" another computer store. He wanted something special, unique, niche. He wanted a technology boutique.
"I wanted something that would intrigue people," Lee said.
Situated on the upper half of a building along Breckenridge's Main Street, Hub is a wide open space, with large windows letting in natural light and all kinds of interesting tech gadgets and gizmos lining the walls. There's a couch and a big screen, a demo table and a place where kids can sit and entertain themselves with drawing and other activities. The clean, modern design style is very intentional, Lee said.
"I wanted to create a practical space that made people feel like they were just going to sit down in their living room," Lee explained. "Because we use all these products at our homes."
In addition to the physical design, Lee is working to create a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
"I just want people to be comfortable and just be OK with saying, 'I don't know anything' and 'can you help?'" he said with a laugh. "And I'm cool with that."
Lee's enthusiasm about computers, especially the gadgets that he carries in his store, is catching. Computers have long been his passion, he says, and he's fooled around with them ever since he was a kid, taking them apart and putting them back together, playing around with software until he knows it inside and out.
Present a computer problem to Lee and he'll immediately rattle off several options for how to fix it. He's quick to jump online, too, to find just what he needs. His enjoyment of computers and other technology is one that he wants to share with others, and he plans to use Hub to do just that.
"As the name suggests, Hub, I want to be the technology hub for Summit County," Lee said. "I want people to not just only come here to buy headphones but also come here to talk about web design and, you know, 'I want my phone to do this, does it work, does it do that?'"
Lee has lots of ideas for the future of Hub, including giving it aspects of a WiFi lounge and teaching workshops and clinics on various computer softwares, such as iMovie on the Mac. He also hopes to get the younger generations involved and discusses ideas like creating a homework club for high schoolers or teaching technology classes to elementary students. People who love technology are like a community, he says, and love to talk about the topic together.
Lee particularly prides himself on the electronics available in his store, which he says are unique and hard to find elsewhere.
"I'm carrying brands you don't see everywhere," he said. "I'm selling quirky little things."
These "quirky" items include a gadget that, once attached, can turn any surface into a stereo - a cardboard box, a wall, a glass. Another are wooden iPhone cases made by a company in Edwards, which Lee says is looking into making cases out of beetle kill wood.
Where does he find these products? Online, scrolling across websites to find the latest in technology news and gadgets.
"I'm a geek," he said with a little laugh. He likes finding products that have barely hit the market, that have just been invented by fellow tech geeks.
"I think to me, that's what boutique is - the stuff you don't see at Target," he said.
Although he's only been open since the end of December, Lee says that business has been going well so far. Although many of his customers are travelers, he's gotten quite a bit of local business as well. The visitors usually come in to replace forgotten items, such as adapters, power cords and headphones, or to solve the occasional wifi disconnect problem. The locals, however, are interested in Lee's computer repair services and, he believes, will take advantage of his soon-to-come home and office installation offers.
"That's what I like about the model," Lee said. "The people that need their computer repaired, they live here."
Hub was opened, Lee says, because he saw a lack of the type of services it provides and felt there was a strong enough need to get his business going.
"Ever since I've been here, there has never been a computer store in Breck, nowhere you can get your computer repaired, or anything like that," he said. "We're offering a pretty unique service for the area, something that we've needed for a long time."
Fortunately, the business is doing well and Lee is looking forward to further projects with Hub and his fellows in the tech community.
"I'm pretty excited with how everything is going," he said.