Get your Gadget Fixed

Marin Magazine, Thinh Nguyen
Marin Magazine, THINH NGUYEN
Thinh Nguyen

THINH NGUYEN ARRIVED in the U.S. as a 5-year-old refugee from Vietnam. Today, the 30-year-old S.F. State grad has a flourishing business repairing the damages of our digital lifestyle. His new Novato store also sells the latest in electronic gadgets.

What do you do? We fix phones. We also buy and refurbish and sell used phones. It’s a big market. We also fix iPads, iPods and laptop screens.

How did you start? I learned phone repair from a YouTube video. First I drove to people’s houses; then I had a tiny little hut across from Starbucks near Montecito Plaza in San Rafael. It was about 3 feet by 7. Super tiny. Claustrophobic.

You’re a handy guy. I’m good with my hands. I got it from my dad, who is super handy. When I was a kid, I liked to take things apart.

Could you put them back together? Most of the time.

What does your dad do? He used to do nails. He was a manicurist. My parents had a nail salon in San Rafael, but it closed when the economy went bad. Now my dad works for me.

Works for you? Yes, I taught him how to fix phones.

What’s the most common repair? A broken screen. On most phones we can fix that in an hour.

For how much? For an iPhone 6, it’s $149 — definitely cheaper than buying a new one.

People tell you what happened? Right, I’ve heard it all. The most common is that they put their phone in their lap while they’re driving and when they step out of the car the phone falls to the ground.

What’s the weirdest story? People drop them in the toilet or wash them in their dirty clothes, but the weirdest involved a chicken farmer. She liked to keep eggs in her bra, but she also kept her phone there. One day, the eggs broke and got all over her phone.

The Novato store is more than phone repair? I’m expanding what we offer. It was always my dream to have a cool gadget store. I’m super into gadgets and unique items.

For example? We have hoverboards. They go nine miles on a charge. And we have a live jellyfish tank. It’s a kit. They ship you the live jellyfish from Florida.

What are your plans? My dream is to have hundreds of these stores — the new RadioShack, but much cooler.

Thinh Nguyen, owner of Gadget Pron, 473 Third St., San Rafael; 857 Grant Ave., Novato

Marin Magazine, Gadget Pron

Marin Magazine, Gadget Pron

Marin Magazine, Gadget Pron


This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition under the headline: “Handy Man.”