More CE Seen At Gateway's Country Stores

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Gateway has fully plunged into the world of CE retailing by greatly expanding the list of non-PC products sold through its Country Store chain, including a Gateway-branded 42-inch plasma display TV.

The plan has Gateway's 300 Country Stores stocking 150 CE devices, everything from digital cameras to MP3 players to satellite and cable services. Actually stocking these products in the stores is a major departure for Gateway which had declined to even stock its core PC products, instead using the locations as a place for customers to pick a PC then place an order for mail delivery. The company had relaxed this policy lately and has stocked a few PCs in each store for immediate pick up.

Tom Edwards, consumer electronics analyst for NPDTechworld, Port Washington, N.Y., believed the move is an attempt to build much-needed store traffic in the Country Stores and a response to similar moves by CompUSA and Dell.

Edwards noted, "How long can a store live just selling PCs?"

The stores already carry a limited number of digital cameras, software and other computer peripherals, but this will be expanded to include 10 digital cameras, three Canon camcorders, five MP3 portable audio players and about 20 new software titles. In addition, the 42-inch PDP will be officially introduced on Nov. 4.

In a written release, the Gateway executives said the key to its success with this project will be the chain's trained sales staff and that all the devices will be connected to PCs so customers can gain experience with the products prior to purchase.

"We've listened to customers' frustrations with how digital electronics are sold today and we're introducing a better way to shop for them," said Gateway CEO Ted Waitt.

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