Need help with your iphone?
There is no Apple genius bar in Puerto Armuelles, but there is Genius Place.
Visit Genius Place to solve your cell phone crisis – Android or iphone.
Sometimes, free of charge.
They also sell technology and accessories, such as:
Cell Phones, cases, chargers, power banks, routers, modems, mouse(s) (“Mice?”), all sorts of computer and electronic accessories, as well as watches and sunglasses.
You used to be able to buy clothing and shoes there too, but no more. It is only a cell phone/tech store now.
They also do repairs on cell phones, computers, and watches. See below for more on the repair crew.
Location, Hours, Phone
On the main street, 150 meters down from Romero Supermarket, on the same side of the street. (see map)
Open Monday – Saturday: 9am – 7pm. Closed Sundays.
How It Got It’s Name
I asked him how he came to name his business, Genius Place.
Where I come from, this would be an invitation for a lot of sarcastic comments.
Nextali explained that the name was “discovered” during the remodel of the building, before the store had even opened.
Nextali and the guys doing the remodel kept giving one another a hard time. “Oh thank you for passing me the nails…You’re a genius!” or “Hey Genius, can you help me move this scaffolding?” “No, you are the genius; I am but a humble assistant”, etc…
So that is how this useful and conveniently located store got it’s name.
About Genius Place
In 2003, Chiquita Banana Company closed its operations here in Puerto Armuelles for good. So, what does a company town do after the company has left the town behind?
Many people leave. But the loss of Chiquita Banana also enabled many entrepreneurs to start up businesses at bargain basement prices.
One such businessman is Nextali Montenegro, owner of Genius Place.
Nextali is from Paso Canoas, the town at the Costa Rica–Panama border, about 35 kilometers north of Puerto Armuelles.
Nextali’s family has a long history in the retail business, having run successful clothing shops in Paso Canoas for more than a generation. After Nextali finished his university studies in business administration, he wanted to expand the family’s businesses into new markets. When he was 22 years old, Nextali saw Puerto Armuelles as the perfect opportunity to “get in on the ground floor.”
It has worked out well for him. Nextali owns the entire building where his shop is located, including the Uno Express courier service and the beauty supply store. So, as the market improves, Genius Place is poised to expand at their own pace. Genius Place has a second location in Bugaba, near the central park, and they have plans to open a shop in Volcan in the next several months.
Nextali is happy about the arrival of Del Monte in Puerto. Obviously, having so many new jobs in Puerto Armuelles is great for his cell phone business, since the cell phone, more than any other product, after food and shelter, is what working class Panamanians spend their money on. It’s the same all over the world.
Nextali has two employees currently. Joel Aparicio, 29, is a graduate in cellular and computer technology and repair. He can definitely answer any of the usual questions that customers may have.
Joel is always eager to improve his English skills by working with ex-pat customers. However, his English skills are just fine for communicating and assisting with any computer/phone tech questions.
Kevin De Leone is 30. He is also a tech “geek”. Both he and Joel have their own work desks where they solder and repair cell phones, and many other repairs that come through the door. Kevin is not an English speaker. However, his good nature is apparent. There is certainly an air of good will and cooperation in the shop, much of it due to these 2 guys.
My Experience at Genius Place
To give you an idea of the kinds of products and services that bring me, personally, to Genius Place, here’s an example. The other day, when I went into the shop to do the interview for this article, I realized that I had a couple of cell phone related tasks to accomplish while I was there.
First, I needed a new battery for one of our cell phones. “No Problem”, I was told. Within 5 minutes the new battery was installed.
Then, I remembered that I also needed to buy a power bank for another phone, an old iphone with a battery that barely held a charge anymore. They had several power banks to choose from.
I also needed assistance installing internet data on my cell phone. Nextali took care of this for me.
The final task may amaze some of you, if you are even reasonably tech savy. I had installed Whats App on my phone, but I could not remember how to use all its features. (To be honest, I forgot how to use WhatsApp completely.….I know. My wife Betsy, and especially my two daughters, give me no end of grief for being so technologically hopeless).
“No Problem”, I was told. Nextali explained to me, once again, all the features and how to use them. “Pan Cocido” (A piece of cake). Better yet, if I had asked any of the women in my family for help, they would have given me such a hard time for being such an “old fuddy duddy” that it would not have been worth asking for help. Nextali didn’t tease me once.
Check out Genius Place next time you need help with your technology.
Read my wife’s article to get the basics about your cell phone and service options in Panama.
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