Microsoft is taking a walk on the luxury side and will be opening its first flagship store on Manhattan's tony Fifth Avenue. The store will be located at 677 Fifth Avenue, which currently houses a Fendi shop. Microsoft executives say the store has been in the works for five years.
"As our first flagship store, it will serve as the centerpiece of our Microsoft Stores experience," David Porter, corporate vice president for Microsoft retail stores, said in a statement. Porter added that Microsoft has always had plans to open a flagship store but was simply waiting for the right location.
The Fifth Avenue store is hardly Microsoft's first retail endeavor. There are already 104 Microsoft stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Additionally, the Redmond, Washington-based software giant announced plans to open Microsoft mini-stores in 600 Best Buy locations. Microsoft took its first stab at Manhattan retail during the holiday season of 2012 when it opened a pop-up store in Times Square for the launch of Windows 8 and the Surface tablet.
But with its flagship store, Microsoft hopes to attract a range of customers besides tourists. "Fifth Avenue has fast retail and luxury," Joanne Podell, a Cushman & Wakefield vice chairman, told the Wall Street Journal. "This street appeals to everyone from the wealthy to the not so wealthy. It's an ecumenical street."
A team at real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield representing the landlord, 677 Fifth Avenue Corp., calls the deal "a perfect pairing." The Microsoft flagship store will be neighbors with the Fifth Avenue Apple store, which is a few blocks away. Taking a cue from Apple, which has 254 stores in the U.S. alone, Microsoft plans to open 10 more stores in the U.S. and Canada.
Microsoft stores are usually a hub for retail items such as Windows PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets as well as Xbox consoles and accessories, and customers can get technical assistance at the stores' answer desks. But Microsoft says the Fifth Avenue flagship store will offer more than the average Microsoft retail store. The company has not given details as to how the flagship store will be different; Porter simply described it as an "experiential space" for Microsoft to connect with customers.