“Right now it’s looking okay. That’ll save them some money,” Hawkins said. ‘I think that’s people’s main concern when they come in, is trying to not spend a lot.”
Hawkins, a Jacksonville native, worked at her sister’s pool store in Piedmont over the summer, and after talking with Dan Freeman, a Piedmont cabinet-shop owner and member of the city’s re-established Business Council, she was encouraged to open up her own shop. She did so in October.
She’s always had an interest in computers, but it wasn’t until a high school teacher introduced her to the Jacksonville school system’s director of technology, Anthony Kingston, that her interest became something more. Kingston hired Emily while she was still in high school and kept her on after graduation and as she began her studies at Jacksonville State University.
With her interests in all things digital, one might expect she studied computer technology in college. Well, no.
“Criminal justice and emergency management,” Hawkins said with a laugh.
After graduating from JSU, Emily began working as a research writer for the Center for Domestic Preparedness, and in her spare time, repaired computers from her home.
But then things changed, and Hawkins found herself relying on her skills with technology.
“My department lost funding, and I was like, ‘I’m going to go back to do what I know,’” Hawkins said.
For the last year Hawkins has worked full time from home, until she opened her Piedmont shop.
Hawkins’ repairs both laptop and desktop computers, offering a wide range of service from PC tune-ups to virus and spyware removal and hardware repair.
Things were slow the first week, but having the recent Octoberfest and downtown trick-or-treat events helped in getting the word out about the shop, Hawkins said.
“That’s helped a lot. I’ve had a lot of phone calls,” Hawkins said.
When deciding whether to have a computer repaired or just buy another, often customers find themselves attempting to estimate the cost of repair, Hawkins said. That’s not an easy thing, and often times a repair costs less than one would think, she said.
But if it’s cheaper to buy another computer, Hawkins said, she is always honest with people.
Building and maintaining websites is another talent Hawkins has, having built websites for the Pool Doctor, Calhoun Women Behind the Badge and maintaining the website for The Spirit of Anniston.
Having a website doesn’t have to be expensive, Hawkins said. It’s all a matter of what the customer needs.
“Sometimes people just need one or two pages, and to have their contact information. I try to ask them what their budget is,” Hawkins said.
Star staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @burkhalter_star.