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Apple reseller shuts off the lights

The now-bumpy road for Mac resellers takes another turn as a key independent chain closes up its stores.

One of Apple Computer's most prominent independent resellers is closing its doors.

Elite Computers & Software, the Mac reseller known for its spot across the street from Apple Computer's headquarters in Cupertino, is closing that location and all of its other Northern California stores, plus a handful of ComputerWare by Elite stores elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay area.

A voicemail recording at the company's Berkeley location notes that that store and several others are now closed. "As of Tuesday, Apr. 15, this location and all other ComputerWare locations have been closed," the recording says.

Earlier in April, a number of resellers lost their authorization to sell Apple products after they refused to sign a new contract with the Mac maker. However, many of those companies, including Dell Computer, Fry's Electronics and Micro Center, have now inked contracts.

Macadam Computers has also re-signed, even though it is one of several resellers that is suing Apple over business practices.

According to an article in the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, Elite has begun its own legal action against the Mac maker. The newspaper reported that Elite filed suit in Santa Clara Superior Court last month seeking more than $5 million in damages from Apple for breach of contract, unfair competition, false advertising and fraud.

Elite CEO Thomas Armes was not immediately available for comment.

After years of running Elite in Cupertino, Armes purchased the ComputerWare name in 2001 and reopened a number of locations of the defunct San Francisco Bay area Mac-only computer chain. The move came even as Apple was opening its own series of retail outlets, which now include stores in the Bay Area cities of Palo Alto and Emeryville.

The ComputerWare recording says that all of the stores' inventory is being liquidated at the Cupertino location. A representative at the Cupertino store said that the outlet will close in about two months, once the liquidation is complete.