Computer franchisor accelerates

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<B>By KAREN SUCHARSKI</B> <FONT SIZE=-1><I>Staff Reporter</I></FONT>

Although Computer Renaissance opened just over two months ago, revenue isalready 40% ahead of projections and owner Brock Munsell expects to top $1million in sales for the first year.

"It’s been crazy," he said. "It kicked off much better than we expected."

Computer Renaissance is a used and new computer equipment franchise basedout of Minneapolis. The company has four other franchised concepts, all basedon the "used but not used up" theme and sharing the same logo. Readers mayrecognize the theme from local Play It Again Sports commercials.

Play It Again Sports is the largest of the concepts. The two local storesare owned by Brian Sinclair and Lana (Munsell) Sinclair. Brock and StephanieMunsell were visiting the Sinclairs when they decided to move here and openthe computer store.

Starting with just the two owners, the store now employs four salespeopleand two technicians in its full-service computer repair shop. Brock Munsellsaid he is looking for one more technician. Although there are many knowledgeablepeople in Colorado Springs, it is hard to find qualified employees due tolow unemployment, Munsell said.

Munsell said he is also looking to expand his current store and open a secondlocation in the fast-growing northern part of the city around the first ofthe year.

The Munsells’ love of Manitou Springs led them to buy a home there and tocontact Altura Computer Systems, a Manitou Springs-based manufacturer ofhigh-end laptop computers. Munsell said he was having a hard time keepingstocked laptops and he was looking to add a new unit to his product mix.The mix consists of about 70% used and 30% new equipment.

The quality of the Altura laptop was what he was looking for and his storeis now the only retail outlet outside of the Manitou Springs headquarters.

There are 130 Computer Renaissance stores open with 187 in the works inapproximately 25 states. Munsell said the concept is attractive to entrepreneurswho don’t want to spend $1,800 to $2,000 to get into computing. The costof a Computer Renaissance franchise is in the realm of $300 to $1,000 for"the trailing edge of computing," according to Munsell.