Talk of the bay
Independence sets phone chain apart
By MARK ALBRIGHT
Published January 16, 2006
You would think the glut of retailers peddling cell phones has peaked. But you would be wrong.
Wireless Toyz is barging in with plans to open more than a dozen stores in the Tampa Bay area within a few months.
What's different about this fast-growing chain - 150 stores in 20 states - is it's an independent that sells contracts and stock phones and accessories for five carriers (all the big ones except Verizon).
In European markets where wireless services are more developed and ubiquitous than in the United States, similar chains are a major market force.
Wireless Toyz is the brainstorm of 31-year-old Joe Barbat. He started selling pagers and later cellular services inside his Iraqi-American father's video store in 1997. His little kiosk soon generated more revenue than the Farmingham, Mich., store.
Carlos Hesano acquired the franchise for the west coast of Florida. Perhaps you saw him dressed up in a cell phone costume waving to passing motorists at the recent opening of a Wireless Toyz store on Tyrone Boulevard at Ninth Avenue N in St. Petersburg.
"This is a business where nobody is too big to do what some consider the lowliest task," he said.
[Last modified January 13, 2006, 17:46:02]
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