CapitolMac, the local Apple computer-focused retailer and repair shop that predates the Apple Store’s existence, is preparing to shut down.
That includes plans to close its two stores: its Fan storefront at 1700 W. Main St. by the end of the month and a Baltimore location.
Barring a sale, outside investment or some other last-minute alternative, the pending closure will mark the end of a three decades-long run for CapitolMac, which was founded in the late 1980s as Apple’s Macintosh computers were gaining in popularity.
The decision also follows recent years of fast growth as the company earned a spot in 2017 on the Inc. 5000 list of the nation’s fastest-growing businesses.
Owner Dheeraj Vasishta said a changing retail environment and consumers’ increased accessibility to Apple’s products were among the reasons for CapitolMac’s closure. He also said his company took a hit because of the way Apple now handles repairs.
“The portfolio of services we do has narrowed over the years as new Apple hardware has moved to a ‘swap-it-out’ policy,” Vasishta said. “Macs are less upgradeable and upgrades are limited to certain models. It takes away a great service we provided.”
Vasishta said in years past, Apple would recommend its hardware be fixed, but the tech giant has since moved more toward just replacing broken devices, which affected CapitolMac’s repairs business.
“It’s become a bit tighter, particularly with all things Apple,” he said. “We’d always supplemented that with repairs and third-party products. That carried us for quite a while.”
He added that Apple products have become available in more places, which wasn’t the case during Apple and CapitolMac’s early years.
“We’ve seen Apple go from a premium product at limited places to spreading themselves all over. They’re on Amazon and in the big boxes they once looked down on. Their stuff is now used as loss leaders from retailers, with Apple’s blessing,” Vasishta said.
The Baltimore Business Journal first reported CapitolMac’s plans to close its stores in Richmond and Baltimore.
The chain formerly had a store in Williamsburg, but that location has split off as a separate entity under the name iCommand and will be unaffected by CapitolMac’s closing.
Vasishta said they’re planning to close the 3,000-square-foot Fan spot by the end of January, but he’s not ruling out a sale or other rescue of the company.
“It’s not absolutely too late yet. But if we manage to have the right conversation with the right party through investment, partnership or sale, it is still something that can work,” he said.
“I had an entire plan for retooling and pivoting CapitolMac if we got a funding infusion. We’ve seen colleagues in the field do this sort of thing and find success.”
If that doesn’t come through, Vasishta said he’ll likely go back to running his own Apple-focused IT consulting company, which he did prior to buying CapitolMac in 2009.