Talk of the Trail: Downtown Phone Repair

There are hundreds of businesses along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail that have helped transform the urban core, including Downtown Phone Repair, located on the second floor of City Market, and owned by Andy Howard, Fletcher Place resident, enthusiastic Pacers Bikeshare rider, dad to Adelaide, Miriam and Jasper and husband to Marlene.

Andy Howard outside of his phone repair shop on the second floor of City Market.

Tell us about Downtown Phone Repair.

I mostly fix broken iPhone screens, but can do most cell phone repairs given enough time and YouTube videos.

What motivated you to start your business?

I stopped being excited about my former career. I ended up spending a few years being a stay-at-home dad before I decided to open the repair shop just over a year ago on May 12, 2014.

Did the Cultural Trail weigh in your decision on where to locate?

Not directly, but having more people biking and walking by, regardless of if they are coming to your business at that very moment, definitely increases visibility.

Dad-powered taxi (and he can take photos at the same time)!

Is biking part of your business’ culture?

Yes. I use the Pacers Bikeshare to get to work pretty much every day. There is a station about a block from my house and another directly at the City Market. I’m currently #3 on the leaderboard. I use it as a challenge to keep me healthy. Additionally, I regularly have customers drop off items for repair and then I deliver them by bike after I leave work.

What is the connection between biking/walking and success for your business?

I never arrive at work anything other than invigorated. It doesn’t matter if I’m bundled up for a zero degree ride in January or pouring out sweat in July, I love what I do and I love that I can get there some other way than being crammed in a car stuck in traffic.

What’s your favorite thing about Indy?

Easily the Trail. I found some old pictures of the intersection of Stevens St and Virginia Ave on Google Maps. Comparing the former concrete wasteland that was there (four lanes of traffic, concrete pedestrian islands, tiny sidewalks) to the change the Trail has brought (lush plantings, bioswales, two lanes of traffic, short crossings) is refreshing and everyday I see businesses (including mine) that likely wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the Trail. It fundamentally changed Indy.

…and AFTER the Indy Cultural Trail along Virginia Avenue.

The Cultural Trail has gained a new role in my family recently. My 6-year old twin daughters just learned to ride two-wheelers in the last month or so. Since school is out, they are riding with me from Fletcher Place to the City Market. There is no way that would have happened before the Trail; three-foot sidewalks adjacent to traffic, poorly marked crosswalks, and no pedestrian signals would have made it far too treacherous for them to make that journey. I am entirely comfortable having them bike on the Trail because about the worst-case scenario is them wobbling into a bush or getting a scraped knee from falling over. I had a very active childhood and I’m glad I can pass that on to them.

Twins Adelaide and Miriam sport the best in bike helmet fashion. They are allowed to ride with their parents along the Trail on their own two-wheelers because Andy and his wife, Marlene, feel safe on the protected bike lane.

What does “community” mean to you?

I grew up in the suburbs and still have friends and acquaintances living there. They drive in and out of their garages, spend their entire Saturday tending their yard, and barely know their neighbors. In contrast, every time I’m on the Cultural Trail, at the coffee shop or hanging out at the park, I know someone. If I don’t know them, I find out who they are. My social network since moving to a downtown neighborhood has become so rich and connected, I can’t imagine life without it. That is community. The things the community does together–decorate traffic signal boxes, support local shops, paint the equipment at the park–that creates place.

Stop by Downtown Phone Repair on the second floor of City Market Monday-Friday from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. for all of your phone repair needs. Andy can be reached at 317-456-2469 or dtphonerepair@gmail.com.