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Bluetooth sets sell out in wake of new law

Las Vegas is a city of procrastinators, it seems.

Since the law prohibiting use of hand-held cellphones while driving went into effect Oct. 1, sales of wireless Bluetooth headsets have skyrocketed. Edgar Barrera, store manager of the Wireless Toyz at 2801 W. Washington Ave., said his store has been picked clean.

“We actually ran out of every single Bluetooth we had,” Barrera said. “It’s amazing how everybody is buying them right now.”

Under the new law, motorists can yak or text all they want as long as they’re not holding the phone. Communicating from behind the wheel using any hands-free technology is allowed.

Barerra said the run on Bluetooths began Sept. 30 — the last-possible shopping day before the law went into effect. On Oct. 5 he was completely sold out. On Friday, he received a shipment of about 100 of the devices — about a one-week supply.

At Wireless Toyz, the cost of a Bluetooth headset ranges from $29.99 to $129. Hands-free devices equipped with earbuds and wires that link to a microphone start at $19.

Barrera said people are also buying the wire-based hands-free devices, but not as much as the Bluetooth. He thinks it’s because customers just don’t want wires bogging them down.

Southern Highlands resident Jennifer Betancourt, though, said she prefers the wires.

“I don’t want something sticking out of my head like a robot,” Betancourt said, referring to the Bluetooth’s hang-on-the-ear design.

Betancourt ordered her device online for $6, from hdaccessory.com. It arrived in about five days. Even though she’s complying with the law, Betancourt said the device may be hurting more than helping.

“I’m so worried about my hands-free device, I’m not as focused as I was before the law went into effect,” she said. “I feel like Hands-Free Harriet.”

Word on the street is that retailers Walmart, Target and Best Buy stores around Las Vegas have also run out of the devices, though corporate public relations for those stores didn’t respond to requests for information. The AT&T store at 710 E. Flamingo Road, though, had a full range of Bluetooth headsets in stock Friday, ranging in price from $32 to $129.

Ronny Adler owns the three Fones Gone Wild locations in Las Vegas, where Bluetooth sales have risen about 25 percent this week. He sells five models, ranging from $25 to more than $100. The more you pay, the better the sound quality and noise-reduction capability, Adler said.

Nevada is the ninth state to outlaw drivers from using hand-held cellphones and the 34th to prohibit texting while driving.

Police will issue warnings until the end of December for those who ignore the law. On Jan. 1, penalties will be issued: $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second and $250 for the third and subsequent offenses.

Contact reporter Laura Emerson at
lemerson@lvbusinesspress.com or 702-380-4588.

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