Charles Sparks, better known to his friends and customers as "Sparky" is moving into larger quarters due to increased business, and to have a better place to display items that he sells, such as computers and other electronic gear.
His business began moving on the same day last week that Microsoft ended its support of XP as a platform, one of the most popular Windows programs ever offered with millions of people using the program on their home and business computers.
Sparky, whose business name is known as Sparky's Computer Repairs, is still located at the Lehigh Flea Market, next door to the Lehigh Acres Citizen Center and the Lee County Sheriff's Office's East District office on Homestead Road.
New sign to go up at the expanded site for his business.
He opened his business three years ago and once the word was out, customers began coming and they return when they need service or to purchase an additional item.
While the move began last week, he is finalizing the expansion of his store and repair shop this week with the help of friends.
He is enlarging the size of his business because before, he had barely enough room to store items for sale. He squeezed himself into an area of the small space where he worked on repairing computers and offering advice to people who stopped by with a question or a problem.
"It's funny to move on the same day that the popular XP Windows program has stopped supporting its service, but that is not a bad thing like a lot of people think," he said while two computers on his bench were downloading different programs for customers.
"If you have XP on your computer, don't worry. Nothing is going to happen. Make sure you have a good anti-virus program installed and you're good to go," he said. "I think with Microsoft halting its support program, people may have less problems with XP."
And of course if they do, Sparky is ready to be of service.
"I can repair XP or reinstall on those computers that have them. People should not believe they have to rush out to some big box store and buy a new computer because XP is no longer being supported or offered by Microsoft.
"It is a good Windows program and many of my customers still have it and plan to continue using it. As long as they are careful in what they download on their own, XP can work for a long time yet."
Sparky is known for his ability to rebuild computers, those that people think are probably obsolete. And he claims he can do it very inexpensively.
The computer store and shop has moved from two small rooms that were nine by nine feet to another that is two rooms, 10 by 20 feet in size. There is a showroom and the other room is where Sparky does his work and can store all the items he needs. Many of those things will now be displayed in both rooms so customers can easily see what he has to offer. Already, rebuilt computers are set apart on a shelf that beckons customers to take a look at them. Most of them appear as new. Then there are chords, tablets, laptops, and just about anything you need for your computer.
One of his friends, Robert Robbins, who has been helping Sparky to move, said he didn't know there was so much in the two small rooms that Sparky occupied.
"Now the store has that professional look. People are going to like it," Robbins said.
Sparky is filled with advice, much of it gathered from his experience and interest in computers since they first came out for sale. He is single and according to his friends, he is married to his business. He has put in long hours, often in the past working more than 80 hours a week, either from his shop or at his home.
He started his business at his home and then decided he needed more room, and took two rooms at the Flea Market and now, he's moving again for the same reason more room.
He works on both PCs and Apple computers, both desktop and laptop models. He can work on Ipads and other devices, but not on TVs.
"I am not in the TV repair business; I work on computers," he said.
If a customer brings in a computer to be repaired, Sparky can usually have the work done with a few hours because he is a master at multitasking. While one computer is downloading a program, which may take a long time, another is downloading something else, and yet another is getting a new motherboard or other interior board. He is used to doing several things at one time. It comes natural.
He can be reached at 239-243-3733 or at night by calling 239-440-6216 or you can stop by at his site at the flea market during the week. His customers not only come from Lehigh, but from other areas of Southwest Florida. One customer comes from Miami and Sparky said he has customers up north who bring him their computers for tune-ups during Season.
He is open on Mondays to most Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and on Tuesdays, he usually closes around 2 p.m. He is not open on Sundays.
Future plans are to make house calls, like doctors did in the past when something was wrong when one needed medical help.
"It'll be like that. If someone needs me to come to their house because they are unable to get their computer or computers to me, I'll make arrangements, often after I leave work. But I haven't set a date to start that yet," he said.
If Sparky has any advice for computer users today, he offers up words of wisdom advising people to not fall for all the ads that say you need this or you need that to be downloaded.
"Just delete them out," he said. "Even though you may have blocked your popups, many small ads will embed themselves when you are on the Internet. You will see something that says you need this and it is recommended. That doesn't mean you need it at all and most of the time, you do not need it," Sparky said.
"Be careful when you download a program today, too. Read every word. Today you may think you are downloading a program and you end up with three to six other programs. Usually you have to uncheck those little boxes and only download what you want. It is something to really watch because so many people have so much downloaded on their computers that it has taken up much space and is slowing down their computers," he said.
Sparky loves computers and offering advice. He'll tell you to let him rebuild your computer before pitching it. Quite often, a customer will leave with his older computer that has been upgraded and works like a new one.
Sparky's Computer Repair can install Windows programs and can fix those that have gone bad.
"A slow computer means something is wrong," he warns. "Don't put up with it because I can most of the time make it like new again," he said.
He says he can beat any price for computer repair service and for rebuilt computers and other electronic equipment.