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Is Michigan Avenue Becoming the American Akihabara?

By Chris Karr in Miscellaneous on Aug 1, 2006 4:11PM

The latest in a string of new gadget peddlers will be making themselves a new home on Chicago's Magnificent Mile.

In a press release released yesterday, GPS manufacturer Garmin announced that they too will be hawking their blinking wares on the north Michigan Avenue. This follows the recent stores opened by Nokia and Motorola in the area.

Being gadget freaks, Chicagoist welcomes all the new vendors of overpriced toys for grownups. We fondly remember looking around the Sony store before it was shuttered and Steve Jobs has lifted quite a bit from our wallets through the Apple Store. We did take a look in the new Nokia store, but haven't made it out to Motorola's outlet yet.

However, we have a few suggestions for the new shopkeepers. For one, drop the pretense that you're selling fashion accessories for the tech crowd. Our biggest complaint about the Nokia store was that it seemed to be a showroom more than an actual store. It seemed like they were more interested in showing off three models of phones instead of selling other products that they have to offer. Second, if you're going to sell gadgets on the Mag Mile, let shoppers play with them a bit. Design your space in a fashion that encourages hands-on activity - not a "look, but don't touch" environment. There's no better way to sell a gadget than to get one in a sucker's customer's hands and convince them that they can't leave the store without it. Garmin, if you're reading this, consider the idea of letting your potential customers wander out and about with the new devices to give them a spin (after confiscating a credit card, of course). Don't make us speculate while holding a device tethered to the wall.

We can do that at Target.

(For the curious, Akihabara is a geek's favorite place in the world.)