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Best Buy Opens In-Store Shops

Best Buy opened high-end home theater and small-business shops in 45 of its flagship stores Friday, making good on previously announced plans (TWICE, April 18, p. 20) to leverage its Magnolia Audio Video and Geek Squad operations.

Best Buy targeted 12 cities for the rollout, including Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington. The new Magnolia Home Theater and Best Buy for Business stores-within-a-store will appear within existing Best Buy locations ranging in size from 20,000 square feet to 45,000 square feet.

The Magnolia shops will feature such premium brands as Pioneer Elite, Fujitsu, MartinLogan and Stewart Filmscreen, which were previously off limits to Best Buy stores, and demo rooms to display them. The shops also offer in-home design services and same-day installation, provided by Best Buy sales associates who received online training and certification by the International Communications Industries Association (ICIA).

The move could put added pressure on CEDIA-type specialty chains including Tweeter and MyerEmco, which are based in Best Buy’s target markets of Boston and Washington, respectively.

The Best Buy for Business locations will offer technology products such as servers and professional notebooks, and services including professional advice and around-the-clock IT support via Geek Squad, to organizations with up to 20 employees. In addition, the shops will encourage networking among local small-business professionals in exclusive events with business leaders, local professional organizations and the Small Business Administration.

The in-store shops are an outgrowth of Best Buy’s customer centricity operating model, which tailors store experiences to particular customer needs and expectations. The platform was launched at 68 Best Buy stores in California last year, and is planned to expand to between 235 and 285 stores nationwide by February.