Minneapolis: General Nanosystems lost profits due to light rail construction and online bargains

General Nanosystems technician Ryan Hamann works on removing a virus from a computer Monday afternoon at General Nanosystems on University Ave. (Photo by Bridget Bennett)

Most people might not notice the old blue building that houses General Nanosystems on University Avenue Southeast, and fewer may know the shop was a mecca for area computer enthusiasts for nearly two decades.

General Nanosystems, which specializes in custom-built computers and computer products, is closing its doors July 31.

When people were first discovering PCs in the early 1990s, Khalid Mahmood started the computer store out of a single room.

Throughout the years, General Nanosystems gave a number of University of Minnesota computer science students their first jobs, he said.

When Mahmood announced the store’s closing on its Facebook page , dozens of loyal customers posted comments reflecting their disappointment.

“It’s sad,” Mahmood said. “The light rail has affected us quite a bit, unfortunately.”

The store’s service department will continue to exist in a smaller building next door as a new company, Logic Systems.

Computer science senior Chris Dale started going to the store with his dad 10 years ago. He’s now building his own custom PC, which he’ll use for video game programming.

Dale said he prefers General Nanosystems over big retailers because of employees’ extensive knowledge of their products.

“They know way more than the average Best Buy employee,” Dale said. “They’re a rare bird.”

Daanish Khan , a General Nanosystems employee, said he sees a lot of young people coming in to build their own computers.

“Then they come here after what they’ve built doesn’t work,” he said.

Computer science senior Caleb Bak built his first computer six years ago and has continued to go to General Nanosystems for their customer service and honest expertise.

“They’ve never been about trying to make a quick buck,” he said.

Bak said he’s willing to pay a few extra dollars to get good service, but he said small, niche businesses like this one don’t usually fare well in the area.

While General Nanosystems suffered from light-rail construction, Computer Mega Mall owner Syed Mia said moving his store nearby actually increased sales.

Computer Mega Mall, located down the street from General Nanosystems, relocated in November after relocating from the University Technology Enterprise Center , which was razed to make way for a new apartment complex in the spring.

Because the site has more visibility and parking spaces, Mia said he isn’t worried about surviving as a small computer business.

“We haven’t been huge with students,” Mia said, “but there’s more coming in since the move.”

Bak and Dale said no other store in the state has a computer parts selection comparable to that of General Nanosystems.

“I’m going to miss them,” Bak said. “Everything’s going to convenient, online shopping. There’s still a demand for parts that you can’t get online.”

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  • I don't think Lightrail was the only reason. They offered good deals on some things but charged MSRP for way too many items. There were many times I would have gone to Nano but they charged so much more than MicroCenter, Newegg and others. Part of their issue was their lack of entry to the online space. They just didn't compete well. Lightrail was definitely a factor but they were going to close either way, IMO. - by Paul Agee on Sun, 01/19/2014 - 7:55am
  • I liked them, that is so unfortunate, I can totally see how the lightrail affected their business. Is there anything that can be done about that, like the construction project doesn't offer any consolation to businesses that suffer because of what's going on? Personally Microcenter which was just in St. Louis Park had the best prices and selection on building your own stuff, but their customer service was just average at best, and that's being polite. - by Artemus Valencia on Mon, 10/14/2013 - 4:15pm
  • Nnnooooooooooo! - by Bob Edwards on Wed, 01/01/2014 - 10:59am
  • Sooo sad they are gone. A huge loss! - by Barbara Harrison on Thu, 01/02/2014 - 12:32am
  • Be certain to Google computer mega mall before going there and you won't...go there I mean - by FA Stuart on Mon, 12/09/2013 - 10:58pm
  • Big Box Stores Sell Crap and don't give service... But they will sell you a fake warrenty that costs more over time than a new computer. Computers likecars can be repaired and Gen Nano did great work! - by Scott A Stone on Sun, 08/18/2013 - 12:59pm
  • I just found and my heart literally dropped. - by Levi Olson on Mon, 08/26/2013 - 10:13pm
  • Can't wait to see how well the train takes that hill after a freezing rain. - by Royce Lerwick on Wed, 07/31/2013 - 2:46pm
  • F*&%! n Lightrail! - by Joseph Croft on Wed, 07/31/2013 - 9:07am
  • Sad... I built most of my homebrews through the support of this company. Loved their support and will miss them! - by Quinn Blue on Tue, 10/01/2013 - 10:37am

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Closing of GNS

Logic Systems is now located in the same building that General Nanosystems previously occupied. We provide all the same services & some new ones. Logic Systems is Owned and operated by former employees of GNS.