Parents and teachers often complain that it’s difficult to get teenagers to talk.
But they are the best customers of cell phones.
Spend an afternoon at Advanced Wireless at 117 Main Street in Belen and you’ll see a steady stream of customers.
Like Nicolas Chavez, 15, and his friend, Vincent Lopez, also 15, who walked in with cash from their jobs to buy cell phones.
“I don’t have a phone,” Nicolas said when asked why he was spending his money on a cell phone. And, he added, he can’t call out from school because those in authority “are nosy” and might overhear the conversation.
Vincent wants a cell phone so he can talk to his girlfriend.
Prices range from $79 for a basic phone to $299 for a smaller one (two inches by three inches) with “a variety of features,” said Norm Courtney, general manager of Advanced Wireless.
The basic phone allows the buyer to call anywhere in the U.S. from anywhere in Valencia County.
Cell phones have been around for years, Courtney said, in the “brick phone” form — a big, strap phone used by contractors. In the past few years, companies made cell phones smaller for general use. They work off of towers, just like radios, Courtney said.
Business is good, he added. He figures that 50 percent of his sales go to teens. He sells phones and accessories, but if there are any problems with the phone, Albuquerque is the closest place for repairs.
But cell phones are very sturdy, Courtney said. “The main problems happen when people put them on the top of the car and drive off or drop them in the water in the bathroom.”
Many people buy them and think they’ll just use them for emergencies. Then, they find cell phones to be so convenient, they end up using them all the time, he said.
The $79 black Nokia is the most popular phone, Courtney said. It comes with different buttons and different face plates — decorated with everything from Mickey Mouse, to a red, white and blue design, to flowers.
These phones are “a fashion,” Courtney said. “In restaurants, I see all the kids at a table talking on them.”
The Cricket service is popular with young people because it does not require a credit check or an annual contract, but there’s a $200 deposit. It costs about $29.95 per month for basic service.
The advanced features on a $169 phone include voice activated dialing and a long-lasting battery.
Nokia, Motorola and AudioVox are phone brands. Cricket, Voice Stream and AT & T are phone services, he explained.
Accessories available at Advanced Wireless include a car charger that allows phone owners to re-charge them in the car’s cigarette lighter and a variety of cases.
Advanced Wireless is owned by the Khavari family of Los Lunas, which also owns a store in Albuquerque.