San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
CANOGA PARK, CALIF.— Best Buy has opened the first Magnolia Audio Video location that's directly adjacent to a Best Buy store. The new Magnolia unit, which opened here in the Woodland Hills on Oct. 10, was created out of an existing 58,000-square-foot, freestanding Best Buy store that was updated and downsized to the chain's more typical 45,000-square-foot footprint to accommodate its new neighbor. The stores maintain separate entrances and share only car audio installation bays. Best Buy had observed that Magnolia stores located near Best Buy units performed better than those that aren't, and hopes to heighten the synergistic effect with the new configuration. Magnolia opened another Los Angeles store on the same day in Torrance, bringing its L.A. count to three and its chainwide store count to 22.
KANSAS CITY, MO.— Ultimate Electronics opened two of four planned Kansas City area stores here and in Independence, Mo. earlier this month. Ultimate spent about $6 million on the pair. Each location measures 32,000-square-feet and features the chain's signature 15-foot-high Technology Tower and new Hard Rock Sound Asylum themed demo room. They will be joined by a third store next month in nearby Lenexa, Kan. and a fourth unit in Leawood, Kan. in late 2004. Ultimate also plans to enter Witchita, Kan. on Oct. 31. "The stores will showcase one of the most comprehensive product offerings of consumer electronics in the area," said president Dave Workman. "We aim to maintain a 'best of class' status when compared to other consumer electronics retailers in the business." The Kansas City market began heating up this past summer with the opening of Nebraska Furniture Mart's 712,000-square-foot mega-store near the Kansas Speedway. Separately, the company has completed the changeover of its Minneapolis Audio King stores to Ultimate Electronics.
NEW YORK— A new generation of shopping bots, the online price comparison and e-tail referral sites, is cropping up on the Internet. Making the biggest splash is Shopping.com, which was spawned by the merger last May of DealTime, a pioneer shopping search engine, and Epinions, a consumer reviews site. The result, launched last month, is what the company calls "the world's ultimate shopping experience," thanks to its comprehensive selection (more than 5 million items), consumer reviews (1 million and counting) and e-tail referrals (3,000-plus at launch, including such CE stalwarts as Sears and Abt). Also vying for the shopping bot throne is ResellerRatings.com, which allows registered users to rate their online buying experiences while searching out deals, and founding father PriceGrabber.com, which has added a new shopping list feature that aggregates shoppers' selections.