Many students were upset when they found out Herbert H. Lehman High School would be banning cell phones from inside the facility.
But one person saw a business opportunity.
Since the start of the school year, Vernon Alcoser, who owns Pure Loyalty Electronic Device Storage, has been bringing a truck to high school where students can store their phones and other devices in the morning and pick them up after school lets out. The services are provided for $1 per item.
“I don’t mind paying for it,” said 10th-grader, Jose Stewart, after he picked up his phone from the truck’s small window. “It’s kind of adding up, but it’s a really good service. I need my phone every day I come here.”
According to Alcoser, Stewart isn’t the only one willing to pay to keep his phone close by. Each day about 400 students from Lehman, or about 10 percent of the student body, take advantage of the service.
Business has been so good at Lehman, Alcoser is now regularly sending a truck to Dewitt Clinton High School as well. So far about 200 kids from that school use the service.
“I found out at the start of the year that kids were not allowed to have the phones in school. They didn’t have anything close by so I thought I’d send out the truck,” he said. “But more than anything I had heard some concerns from parents about not being able to reach their kids when they are in school. They really want to have that contact so this allows them to do that. The parents really support us.”
At the start of the year, Lehman High School installed metal detectors that have made it nearly impossible for students to get any electronic devices into the building. School officials said keeping the phones out of the facility is a way to keep kids focused on school and to cut down on crime, as the expensive devices are often targets of theft.
While neither his truck nor his business are registered in any way with the city Department of Education, Pure Loyalty has been storing cell phones, MP3 players, iPods and everything else that is popular and hand-held since 2007, Alcoser said.
“Basically every morning there’s a long line at it,” said Nadalee Latoree, a 12th grader who said she gets free storage in exchange for helping to advertise the business.
Alcoser said advertising, and building up trust with the students is probably the hardest part of the business.
“We started at Clinton about two weeks ago and it’s going to take a while to build up the customer base there,” he said.
While business might be booming at Lehman, it still has it’s skeptics.
“I don’t trust it at all,” said Hanna Abusood. “He could just run off with a bunch of phones. We don’t even know the guy. I would rather let the school take it.”
She said for now, she is just leaving her phone at home.