Purchase photos

iWait, then iGet new iPhone

5/18/2012

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

The Nex-Tech Wireless parking lot at 4310 Vine started filling at approximately 10:15 p.m. Thursday as people with visions of iPhones dancing in their heads lined up for the chance to purchase the iconic device from a locally owned provider.

Standing near the front of the line about 15 minutes before midnight, Alex Delton, Hays High School student, wasn't worried about being out too late. After all, his last day of school was Thursday, and he "just really wanted the iPhone."

iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 sales were slated to begin at midnight and continue until 2 a.m., with the store opening again at 6 a.m. today.

From the back of the line, people were a bit more concerned about the wait.

"I didn't anticipate this line," said Bryant Bombardier, Hays. "But I don't have to work in the morning, and I don't have anything to do all night."

He pointed to a trailer set up with computers on the north side of the building and said chances were good customers would get fast service, with the addition of extra staff.

"I'm hoping so, because I really don't want to be here until four in the morning."

Bombardier, who rather unenthusiastically said he owns a Blackberry while most of his friends have iPhones through Verizon and AT&T, was ready to join the elite ranks of iPhone users.

"They always show (iPhones) off," he said. "Well, I'm getting mine -- and if I have to wait in line, I have to wait in line."

Eight stations and approximately 30 employees were set up to deal with the lines of eager customers. Nex-Tech Wireless employee Alicia Hering said staff had been planning on serving a large crowd.

"We love to do stuff like this," she said. "It's fun, and we all work together so well."

Nex-Tech Wireless staff had been preparing for approximately nine months to become a distributor of the iPhone. During the process, the local wireless phone service provider worked to prep its system, network, back office, inventory and distribution, said Johnie Johnson, president and CEO for Nex-Tech Wireless.

One of only three rural companies in the nation launching today, Johnson said the opportunity to offer the iPhone is a big event for the company.

"Our teams have been trained by Apple in merchandising," he said. "Making sure we protect their identity and integrity and give a good customer experience."

Receiving calls from customers since the announcement of their intention to sell the iPhone on May 8, Johnson said it was obvious local residents are excited about the chance to get "this most sought-after device with the company that has the best customer care and best coverage."

Katie Powell, a Fort Hays State University student, was the first customer to walk out with an iPhone from Nex-Tech Wireless.

Arriving at the parking lot approximately 9 p.m., Powell said she got out of her car and stood in line at 11 p.m.

She had planned on upgrading to a Blackberry Bold until she heard Nex-Tech Wireless announce it would be carrying the iPhone. She made it a priority to be one of the first customers on hand for the launch.

"I just knew it's in high demand," she said. "I didn't want to miss out."