Google announces its first-ever physical retail store


Illustration of a high-end store on the ground floor of a multistory brick building.
Enlarge / Google’s mockup of its retail store.

In a new blog post, Google announced its “first-ever physical retail store” will launch this summer in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. The company says the “Google Store” will feature the predictable assortment of Google hardware like Pixel phones, Nest devices, Fitbits, and everything else the company makes, along with repairs, workshops, and tech support.

If you’re thinking “There’s no way this is Google’s first-ever physical retail store!” Google’s statement is a reference to a permanent, freestanding store. The company regularly does temporary, seasonal “pop-up” stores all the time around the holidays, and it has a small brand store inside of Best Buys in the US as well as similar deals with other stores worldwide, like a larger store inside Curry’s PC World in London.

By our count, this is Google’s fourth attempt at a freestanding, permanent retail location. Who could forget the first attempt, the Google Barges, a fleet of container ships that Google secretly purchased starting in 2010 in order to create floating retail showrooms that would presumably travel the world while pitching futuristic products like Google Glass. (What a time that was!) By 2014, regulators had gotten wind of Google’s plan, and fire-safety concerns torpedoed the project.

In 2015, we learned about plans for a “flagship” retail store, this time in the SoHo district of NYC (a bit south of the current location). Google leased a 5,000-square-foot space and reportedly spent $6 million renovating the building before mysteriously walking away from the project and deciding to sublease the building.

Attempt #3 was in 2018 in Chicago, where the Chicago Tribune said Google was planning a flagship retail space in the Fulton Market district.  Eight months later, a follow-up report said, “Google halted plans late in the leasing process.”

Google’s previous retail attempts haven’t taken off, but with an official announcement, this store in New York City is further along than any of those other “rumored” stores over the years. New York was the first place Google expanded to after California, starting in 2000, and today the city is home to Google’s biggest campus outside of the main headquarters in Mountain View. In addition to the Manhattan headquarters on 111 8th Ave., the company bought the Chelsea Market building (a famous mall/food court) for $2.4 billion in 2018 and announced an expansion into Hudson Square. This new Google Store would be right in the middle of the Google NYC Campus.



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