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@Work: PC Paradise

Jan. 21, 2005 – Say you're at your computer frantically typing a story for, I don't know … the V.I. Source. Say this very same computer, reliable until this minute, I don't know… starts throwing sparks from the hard drive. Panic ensues as you can actually hear the sizzle of months of hard work melting away. At the computer store you encounter others at varying stages of nervous breakdowns.
Techno-speak bounces back and forth across the service desk—giga, mega, whatta? There are only two things you really want to know: Can this thing be nursed back to health? And can you save the data?
"When I started out, I did basic computer service for businesses," says PC Paradise owner Victoria Prehn. "Now I'm more like a therapist. People feel they can't live without their computers."
It's been 14 years since Prehn hung her shingle for PC Paradise in Buccaneer Mall. When she moved to the territory in the early 90s, Prehn saw a need for computer consultants and name brand services, so she wrote up a business plan and presented it to Compaq to get the ball rolling. A year later she opened another shop on St. Croix. After Hurricane Marilyn, she took over the Apple contract as well, becoming the exclusive authorized dealer and service center for Apple and H.P. Compaq computers in the Virgin Islands.
The industry has evolved over the years. "Back then the Internet was a tool the government used. At that time it wasn’t even a thought. Communication has changed. There's more of an exchange of ideas," says Prehn. And it's easy to stay on top of her technical game, because "Apple is a product line people are enthusiastic about."
PC Paradise serves businesses, schools, and anyone who happens upon her store with tech needs. The service section is a sideline of product sales.
"We do quite a bit of consulting for medium size businesses; network install, review, improve, upgrade."
As for what new gadget most customers want to get their hands on, it's "ipod, ipod, ipod," says Prehn, who has had to start a waiting list for them. "When they come in they usually run out the door. People get so excited over that product. Once you have one you don't know how you ever got by without it."
So with a stream of customers coming through the door for service, new equipment, the latest gadget, or to sign up for the ipod waiting list, Prehn fields every question with a calm demeanor and the best information available.
PC Paradise is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays by appointment.

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