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Former Best Buy Concept Store Lives On Online

Minneapolis — Best Buy may have shuttered its two-year-old Escape concept store last month, but its legacy of providing bleeding-edge technology to young CE enthusiasts continues online.

Best Buy opened the club-like CE boutique in the trendy Lincoln Park section of Chicago in November 2004, offering 20-something males a mix of gaming, notebook computers and handheld devices along with an inviting place to demo them.

Escape was ultimately swept up in a Best Buy concept store housecleaning that also saw its female-skewed digital imaging boutique Studio D close last August, and its eq-life health-and-wellness shops divested last June. But unlike its sister stores, Escape lives on online at, where consumers can sample a limited assortment of Japanese micro computers, accessories and novelty electronics imported by Chicago-based, which Best Buy says are months or even years away from distribution in the United States.

“Escape was always planned as a trial concept store, and once we received all the customer research we needed, we wrapped up the concept,” said Matthew Hunt, new format director at Best Buy. “We’re now pleased to let the entire nation in on the secret by featuring some of Escape’s most exclusive technology products online.”

Among the nine SKUs currently available from Escape online are an Asus R2h tablet notebook ($1,000), Raon Digital handheld Vega PC ($880), Nabaztag bunny-shaped Wi-Fi device and Incase laptop backpack.

Best Buy said it remains committed to “integrating the key learnings from Escape into the broader Best Buy organization as part of its ongoing effort to develop new concepts, platforms and formats.” Part of the integration includes the recent launch of imported products on and the possibility of selling Escape products in Best Buy stores.