AT&T(s t) on Saturday will open the doors to a new flagship store on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue that isn’t quite like any of its 2300 retail locations. The 10,000 Square-foot space right in the heart of the Windy City’s main shopping promenade is designed to showcase anything and everything you can do with an AT&T wireless connection.
“The whole theme of the store is to show how you can use technology and how we can bring it life for you,” said Kent Mathy, president of AT&T’s north central region. With that idea in mind, AT&T wanted to create a flagship showroom that was “less transactional and more experiential,” Mathy said.
If it sounds like an Apple(s aapl) Store, there are a lot of similarities: the lack of registers — employees use iPads as point of sale devices – and the Apps Bar, which looks strikingly similar to Apple’s Genius Bar. The big difference is AT&T isn’t necessarily showcasing its own products. All of the devices in stores are, of course, for sale, but the focus is on the different apps and services that run over those devices.
The 40 customer-facing employees who staff the store all moved from different parts of the country, having been selected from AT&T’s 26,000 retail staff for their expertise, Mathy said. They will be manning the different the store’s sections demoing different use cases for AT&T smartphones and other connected devices.
The “Get Fit Boutique” for instance will feature health and fitness apps and show customers how they can link external devices like the FitBit to your phone. App Bar employees will be available to answer technical questions and troubleshoot any app or device related problem.
There will also be boutiques for AT&T’s U-Verse broadband and TV services, a connected car demo of the Nissan Leaf, and Ma Bell’s new Digital Life connected home platform – though the service isn’t yet available in Chicago. The flagship location will also sell items unavailable through other online or brick-and-mortar AT&T retail outlets, such as limited edition smartphone cases designed by local Chicago artists.
AT&T hasn’t yet decided whether it will bring the flagship concept to any other cities, but Mathy said the Chicago location isn’t just a temporary trial fixture. AT&T intends for it to be a permanent location, he said.