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Longest-running Apple dealer FirstTech closing amid price squeeze

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FirstTech, billed as the world's first-ever reseller of Apple products and the longest-running independent Apple dealer, is closing.

The company wrote a message on its website, notifying customers.

"It is with deep regret that we inform you that both FirstTech locations, Minneapolis and Rochester, are closing.

"Over the last two years in particular, the market changes in our industry have been rapid and dramatic. Competition has increased and margins have decreased making it more and more difficult to run our business profitably and still provide the high level of service we are known for."

The mainstay in Minneapolis' Uptown area will begin selling of its inventory at a discount rate Thursday March 20, and will lock up for the last time March 29, the Pioneer Press reports.

Product Manager Fred Evans tells the paper the independent shop's simply couldn't compete price-wise with national vendors. Smaller and smaller margins on hardware also played a part.

"It has been a dramatic change in that regard, the last couple of years in particular," Evans tells the paper.

FirstTech opened in 1941 as a company called Z Radio, before Apple computers were even a concept. It was started by Maury and Betty Zuckerman – it's since been passed down to another generation, to brothers Arnie, Harvey and Rick Zuckerman. The business grew, originally acting as a radio repair company but slowly morphing into a retail space. In 1977 the business – at that point called Team Electronics – signed a deal with Apple Computer to sell the now-ubiquitous brand's first-ever home computer.

The Business Journal says at that point, Apple was so new it didn't have contracts. So Team Electronics used another customer's paperwork to get the deal done.

Team Electronics officially became the very first Apple retailer.

The store's early days with Apple were documented in the film "Welcome to Macintosh." You can see an excerpt from it here:

Thirty-seven years later, under the name FirstTech, the business has to lay off its 70 employees by the end of the month, the Star Tribune reports. About 15 of those worked at a store in Rochester that closed Wednesday. Evans tells the paper the company has dealt with losses for years now.

“You can only sell so many computers at $100 below cost in order to get business,” he says.

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