It's been years since Macy's, and, for that matter, most full-line department stores, surrendered their consumer electronics businesses to sharper priced specialty chains.
Now, the category is making a small, yet high profile comeback within the upscale Federated division via an in-store promotion for Samsung's Yepp line of digital audio players.
Beginning this month, the portable MP3 device is being highlighted at Macy's legendary Herald Square store here, where Samsung has set up a Tech Shop display within the lower level housewares section known as The Cellar. The focal point of the Tech Shop is a digital audio kiosk with an informative looping demo.
According to a Macy's spokeswoman, the promotion hardly heralds a return to aisles of televisions and home audio products. Rather, it calls attention to a category that, along with handheld devices and universal remotes, has been carried by the store in the past, but whose presence was diffused by its placement among kitchen and other household appliances.
So far, the Tech Shop is limited to Macy's flagship store in midtown Manhattan, and its product array begins and ends with the Yepp devices. But based on consumer response, the concept could be carried to other stores throughout the country, the spokeswoman said.
To kick off the concept shop, Samsung is sponsoring an in-store performance today by R&B group City High, and will hold free giveaways, product demos and a sweepstakes for a 20-inch Samsung TV/DVD combo. The company is handing out 250 passes for the performance on a first-come, first-serve basis, along with 500 T-shirts and 500 City High CD singles that the band will autograph.
The event is being promoted on Macy's Jumbotron on Seventh Ave., as well as on posters and local radio.
"This event reflects the continuing trend toward digital convergence in today's powerful entertainment products," said Russell Bleeker, marketing manager for Samsung's digital convergence group. "We are all looking forward to the successful launching of Macy's Tech Shop with our line of digital audio players."