Batteries Plus: The specialty's in the name ... and the service

Ten years ago, laptops and cell phones were rarities at best, and iPods were a fantasy. But the ever-accelerating pace of consumer electronics innovations has made these products almost ubiquitous.

As people clamor to keep up with technology, they soon become aware that keeping their latest gizmos charged is essential, and that no rechargeable battery will last forever.

A new store that caters to the growing need for batteries of all shapes and sizes opened its doors last month on Youree Drive. Batteries Plus is the nation's largest chain of battery retailers and sells 12,000 different kinds of batteries.

"It's kind of a one-stop shop," said Brad King, general manager of the Shreveport location. He said before he started working for Batteries Plus, he had no inkling of how wide and diverse the market for batteries was.

"Initially that was my first thought. "¦ Whenever you hear about a battery store, all you think of is your basic double-A, triple-A and nine-volts." He said his store has more than 1,000 batteries in stock for everything from cell phones and camcorders to wheelchairs and hearing aids.

"Everything, whether it's portable or electric, is going to where it's computerized," King said. "If electricity goes out, you have to have a backup plan."

He noted that one of his largest clients is the hotel and hospitality industry, which has a need to keep the electricity flowing constantly.

"Everything these days is becoming more battery operated," said Toby Credeur, owner of the Batteries Plus franchise. "The demand for batteries is going to grow."

Credeur said he first became aware of Batteries Plus while in Houston and he thought the concept was a strong one.

King said Batteries Plus' major local competitors are geared mainly toward automotive and industrial batteries, whereas his store caters to a broader range of battery needs.

Because Batteries Plus appears to be a retail store, King said customers may not realize it also provides automotive batteries. According to King, Batteries Plus sells directly to consumers through the store, but also provides batteries for commercial clients. King also said his employees will make house calls to replace batteries in wheelchairs and ventilators.

"Another thing that distinguishes us is that we have the knowledge to help the customer out with their battery needs," he said. "We like to practice not only giving the customer what they want but ask them questions about how they used the battery, how they treated the battery, so we can help them in the future."

King said every Batteries Plus employee is trained to help instruct customers on proper use and handling of different types of batteries, including the correct way to charge a battery so as to extend its life.

Batteries Plus is also a drop-off center for battery recycling. Although they cannot accept older batteries that have mercury content, King said they accept all other kinds of batteries for recycling, including those with some lead content and depleted car batteries.