Having started out as a call-out only service, Chips Computers is now an award winning store. Phil Griffiths tells PCR what it’s like to have a female employee in store and why the team makes Star Wars inspired PCs.
Tell us about how your business started...
The business started in 2005 as a call-out only service, where we would go to residential and business users. We have been continuing that and do repairs and upgrades, and even sell new machines to people and set them up. In 2013 we opened our first store and it’s run by my wife and myself. It’s quite a small store in comparison to some, but we’d like to think of it as the biggest small store.
Just you and your wife run the store. Is it difficult having such a small team?
I’m going to say we are unique as we do have a woman working in the store, but the catch is you have still got sexism. But the advantages are that we get women coming in specifically to see her, because they feel more at ease talking to another woman about things.
What products and services do you offer?
We offer standard services and we have a system set up where people can come in and design their own machines – it gives you 306 trillion combinations of computers. We also custom build laptops as well. Also, we offer services to people who have mental disabilities, like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, where we go to their house and set up their machines.
At the moment we are getting large on gaming peripherals. About a year ago, I’d say we probably had five or ten per cent of the store dedicated to gaming stock, and now about a third of the store is dedicated to gaming peripherals.
One of the things we do is go to the extremes in building computers. We can turn old toys into computers, for example Star Wars toys like the Millennium Falcon or Doctor Who’s Tardis.
Why would you say there has been an increased popularity in PC gaming?
I think it’s mainly down to the latest generation of consoles, which are probably not what everyone expected or wanted them to be.
Some of the consoles can’t play some of the games in HD, which in this day and age is pretty much a must. So people seem to go down the gaming options for the PCs, because they do more and you can get things to look 10 times better.
You won the 2015 Chesterfield Retail Award for Best Technology. What did that mean to you?
Well it was the second time we had been nominated for it in the two years they have been doing it. The first year we lost out to another local store. The second year we won it and it meant a lot to us, because that meant in the first year we had improved the store to actually beat one of our competitors, who had a store for maybe ten years.
Do you stock any software or home security products?
The only security products we tend to stock is security software, like BullGuard, Kaspersky, Norton and so forth. Hardware wise, it’s not something we have really got into at the moment.
What are your thoughts on the security sector and large-scale hacks on well- known companies?
The reason why big companies get hacked is the same reason why people rob rich people. They have got more money or more information. But, there’s not much the home user can do other than keep changing their passwords.
What’s your top-selling product in store?
I’d say our top end gaming stuff at the moment, including Razer and Mad Catz products, which seem to be very popular.
What are your future plans?
We’re keeping our eye on virtual reality or augmented reality, with the Microsoft HoloLens or the Oculus Rift. I have a feeling augmented reality will probably be the bigger of the two, if and when it ever comes out, if the price is right for customers.
Regarding stores, we’re not saying we want to move, but if something right popped up in our area and it had all the facilities we needed, then we would consider moving, rather than add an extra store.
We are also always expanding our maintenance contracts, which are aimed at a lot of residential users.
Year established: 2005 (store opened in 2013)
Number of staff: 2
Address: 13, Heywood Street, Brimington, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S431DB.
Telephone: 01246 200214