As his electronics store comes up on 20 years in Williamsburg, Mikey Weiss is reflecting on the history of Mikey’s Hookup and how it’s made it this far with a documentary series on YouTube.
Mikey’s Hookup, located at 88 N 6th St., has been serving North Brooklyn’s electronic needs, including everything from selling the latest Apple products to providing out-of-warranty repairs. Weiss, who fostered a passion for tinkering with electronics from an early age, turned his hobby into a business starting with a 3-by-5-foot table that would become a beacon for the bustling creative and arts communities in the area.
This mini web series in particular was inspired by the desire to celebrate the store’s success and longevity — including opening a sister branch in Silver Lake, Los Angeles — beyond just a one-time anniversary event or party.
“For the past few years I was really wanting to do some kind of anniversary party for all my staff, my friends, the neighborhood; like I would always think of these outrageous ideas of ‘I’m gonna have this block party on N 6th St., have all these awesome bands play and it’ll be this great 20th anniversary.’ And then I thought about it and realized that’s just a one-day event and then people forget about it and we have to wait another 20 years for some other great celebration,” Weiss explained.
“But then my wife — who’s a video editor and used to work for NBC and she’s fantastic — she brought up the idea of making a fun documentary to show the neighborhood, something for the locals to enjoy.”
From there, the creation was fairly intuitive, including filming Weiss and Mikey’s Hookup staff in their element, plus longtime friends and customers discussing the store and neighborhood, and editing footage to shorter clips. And the biggest highlight of the process was less about audio cables and microphone rentals and more about the human elements of the store and the relationships created along the way.
“[The most surprising part] was the honesty and the fun and the silliness of everyone we interviewed,” Weiss reflected. “They just had so much fun doing it and it didn’t feel like some serious documentary ’cause they knew we were just having fun with it. And it’s not like it’s gonna go to some big festival, it was just for friends and locals. And it was great to see them participate in it and the reaction has been awesome.”
Mikey’s Hookup, which originally started as part of Internet Garage in the Bedford Ave Mini Mall, has seen the neighborhood go through countless changes in its tenure, both good and bad, including the closure of many local businesses (not to mention the opening of Nike right across from Mikey’s). But on the bright side, Weiss acknowledges the community loyalty of shoppers who actively choose to shop small rather than lining up outside the Apple store.
“We sell the same products [as the Apple store], but we also sell thousands of other products that they don’t sell, and that’s what keeps us afloat; like they’re not going to sell supplies for recording studios and podcasters and video editors, so they’re just going to sell Apple products, but our store is like a hardware store for the arts, really,” Weiss said. “Everyone needs their computer to do music, to do video, to do lights, so the store is a supply store to help people with their computers and whatever art they’re doing with it.”
While the store has now expanded to another location in Los Angeles, Weiss is still witnessing the neighborly atmosphere of Williamsburg, with a surprising number of familiar faces popping in despite the new coastline. But the new zip code doesn’t mean less attention will be given to the Mikey’s home base, where he and the staff continue to remain flexible to meet customer wants.
And what advice does Weiss have for other budding small business owners hoping to have an equally fruitful 20 years? Don’t be afraid to start small.
“Just start in a shoebox, start with the table on the street. Start in a hallway or just start with the smallest amount of rent possible and the smallest amount of overhead and grow from there,” Weiss advised. “It can only go up. If you really do love your business, the owner should be operating it and should be employee number one to really get it off the ground instead of hiring a manager to run a store without having your vision.”
For more upcoming episodes of the store’s web series, stay tuned here.