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First Look: Virgin Mobile’s New Flagship Chicago Store


Sprint Nextel is no newcomer to carrierowned
stores, operating both the post-paid Sprint and
prepaid Boost Mobile chains.

Joining the retail portfolio this summer is Sprint’s
other prepaid brand, Virgin Mobile, which will have
seven standalone stores, four kiosks and one in-line
mall shop up and running throughout Chicagoland this

Unique among them, and to all CE formats, is Virgin
Mobile’s new flagship store, located in Lincoln Park. Unlike
its sister stores, the prototype flagship eschews the
hi-tech look and product arrays that are typical of cellular
shops, and instead embraces a twenty-something
crash-pad esthetic, replete with couch, coffee table,
floor rug, cushions, vinyl records and concert posters.

While the 1,650-foot boutique does have live demo
models, arrayed across two butcher block tables, the
store was designed to go “several dimensions beyond
the key product sales,” Sprint spokeswoman Jayne
Wallace explained.

“We’re not only selling smartphones, we’re creating
a context for the smartphone culture,” she told
TWICE. “Virgin is a lifestyle and wants to be unlike
your other phone carriers … We want to create a new
relationship between customers and phone providers,
and this is one step toward changing the interaction
from a traditional carrier store to one that ‘gets you,’
and wants to help you master the smartphone culture.”

To that end, the store’s “hosts” go beyond standard
service and support to help customers discover how
their phone and its apps can enhance their lives. “The
handset is only as good as you’re able to make it work
for you,” Wallace said.

Sprint plans to test all its Virgin Mobile formats
throughout greater Chicago, its largest market, before
slowly moving into additional regions across the country,
where the stores will rub shoulders with traditional
retail partners like Best Buy, RadioShack, Target and

New locations won’t necessarily have the same loftlike
ambiance as the flagship shop, Wallace said, although
“We do hope to eventually move the stores a
little closer to that vision.”