Computer Discount of New Jersey isn't in it alone

| 13 Sep 2012 | 01:06

— Mike Russo knows first-hand how tough it's been to survive with a retail business in this tough economy. As co-owner of Computer Discount of New Jersey (CDNJ), located in the center of West Milford on Union Valley Road, Russo admits he and his father and business partner, Joe Russo, thought about shutting down the retail side of their business just over a year ago. Instead, they decided to go about it a bit differently. A former Radio Shack affiliate, Russo ended that relationship and focuses now on what actually sells in the store and their customer service.
"We're not a hobbyist store anymore," said Russo. "We focus on the items that sell, the ones that are popular."
And it's working. Case in point: Russo has a wall filled with printer ink. He will match the prices of the big box stores; oftentimes, he beats their prices. So when you are in the market for printer ink, don't think you have to make the trip to a big chain store. CDNJ has a huge selection and competitive prices.
"If we're not changing with the times, we're not going to make it," said Russo.

Giving back

The Russos have been a staple in West Milford for over 30 years. They've enjoyed prosperous times as well as survived tough ones. They sell laptop and desktop computers, printers, cell phone accessories and basics like batteries. And of course ink cartridges. And while every local business must focus on their own survival, the Russos are doing that but with a caveat. They are promoting other local businesses along with their own.
Russo started a program where each month he selects another local business to promote along with his own. For the rest of September and October, Russo has selected West Milford Hardware on Marshall Hill Road. Customers of West Milford Hardware who bring their receipt dated from September or October to CDNJ and then buy anything there will get a $15 gift card at CDNJ. That's it. There's no minimum to buy and there's nothing the other business has to do. But, as Russo said, they can encourage their customers to stop over at CDNJ.
"We came up with the idea to reward people who shop locally," said Russo.
In the past, he has spotlighted the West Milford Pharmacy, Be Creative Tile & Marble, Kor Fitness and others. The owners of those establishments appreciate the plug and the vast number of customers reached through CDNJ's network, gathered over the past 30 years.
"I just want to remind people there are a lot of great businesses right in our backyard," said Russo.
And some great people
CDNJ was the lucky recipient of West Milford's initial Cash Mob, a group of residents who got together and "mobbed" the store, each spending at least $20 in the store. Sponsored by Sustainable West Milford and the West Milford chamber of Commerce, the Cash Mob is planning to gather again in September and choose another lucky business in which to spend their cash. Russo was grateful for the support by the Cash Mob and promised to participate in the next one.
Value added
Joe Russo points out that people have many choices when it comes to shopping. What the smaller, local stores can do to gain and keep customers is, what he calls, add value.
For example, CDNJ will deliver to its older customers and businesses. Customer service is a huge piece of their appeal. Joe Russo talked about the knowledgeable staff at CDNJ, including Taylor Jennings, Ian O'Loughlan and longtime employee Sally Weatherly. They will spend time with the customers and get it right.
"If we cannot add value to what people are buying, there's no value to buying from us," said Joe Russo.

And they fix things

Aside from selling technology, the other part of the CDNJ business is repairs. Russo employs technicians who set up and repair personal computers and printers. The turnover time is generally between two and four days but sometimes same day repairs are done. It's on a case-by-case basis.
But a couple of things are for sure: CDNJ wants to promote itself as a hometown business with customer service second to none. They will meet or beat many prices from the big box stores. And they want the other local businesses in town to benefit from their customers as well. Their monthly "shop local" store selection is one way to do that.
"It's just to create and heighten awareness of local businesses," said Russo. "It's a thank you. We want them to reap the rewards too."
CDNJ is located at 1499 Union Valley Road, at the corner of Union Valley and Marshall Hill Road. Their phone number is 973-728-7555.