Just In: Google’s first retail store opens this week

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Google is putting its toes in the physical retail waters with its first store, located underneath its headquarters in New York City’s Chelsea area, after years of pop-up experimentation. It will mostly showcase Google’s own gear, such as Pixel phones, Nest smart home devices, Fitbits, and other gadgets. There will also be a variety of third-party accessories and Google-branded stuff such as caps and T-shirts available.

Google refers to this as its “first” store, but in a press conference yesterday, the company refuses to specify when, where, or even if it plans to establish more. It’s possible, but there’s no guarantee. The retail space is a minor method for Google to enter physical stores and compete with Apple Stores, not a large splashy debut. In the midst of the pandemic, Microsoft shuttered all of its retail locations in July.

The Google Store is more like a showroom (or a brand activation event) than a store that sells a lot of merchandise. There are stools and seats strewn throughout the main area, as well as rooms Google refers to as “sandboxes” that contain product-specific experiences.

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Customers will experience a short skit in which they use a Nest hub to answer the door for a delivery person, complete with haptics in the sofa to imitate a knock. Pixel phones will be showcased in a space dedicated to their low-light shooting capabilities.

The Google Store has a more homey, less clinical aesthetic than the Apple Store. There’s a lot of light in here, but there’s also a lot of warm wood tones. The cork and wood furniture was designed in collaboration with a local artisan, according to Google. It’s also proud of the platinum grade it received for environmental design from Leeds. For example, much of the furniture and flooring are constructed from recycled materials.

Diorama boxes with various Google items line the outside of the store. There’s a space dedicated to Stadia gaming, another to Google’s living room offerings, and so on. Google also constructed a circular glass booth, which it plans to fill with exhibits showcasing its technology, beginning with Google Translate.

Google said it will provide on-site Pixel phone repairs as well as product support for all of its hardware devices. It will also provide software support, but only for its consumer goods, not for business users.

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