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Microsoft Targets Apple with Expansion of Retail Stores

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I don't make a habit of attending grand opening ceremonies but when Microsoft opened its second retail store in my backyard Saturday, I decided to accept the company's invitation to check it out. Microsoft opened one of the largest stores to date at the Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City, N.Y. on Long Island (right outside New York City). It's the fifth store in New York and arrives less than two years after opening area locations in Huntington, N.Y. (also on Long Island) and in White Plains, N.Y. in Westchester County. Roosevelt Field is the largest shopping mall in the New York metro area and the ninth largest in the U.S., according to Wikipedia.

The store that opened this weekend is one of the company's largest at 3,775 square feet and 41 employees. It coincidentally opened a day after Friday's Surface Pro 3 launch. "It just worked out that way," said Fazal Din, the store manager, when asked if the opening was timed in coordination with the launch. "But it's a great way to open the store."

While Microsoft's retail stores are primarily intended to draw consumers and are often strategically located near Apple Stores (as this one is), the stores are also targeting business customers, Din said. "We want this store to be the IT department for small businesses," Din said. The store is also reaching out to local partners, he added.

Microsoft corporate VP Panos Panay was on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday, where a number of customers later asked him to autograph their new Surface Pro 3s. "This is not only the 98th store, but it's also the 12th store in the tri-state area [New York, New Jersey and Connecticut]. It's kind of a big deal," Panay said. "This is a great area for Microsoft to show its technologies."

Hundreds, if not a few thousand, teenagers camped outside the store in the enclosed mall to score tickets for a free Demi Lovato concert Microsoft arranged in the outside parking lot. The company also gave $1 million in donations to the local divisions of several charities including Autism Speaks, United Way, Variety Child Learning Center and the Girl Scouts of Nassau County.

Nine additional stores are in the pipeline, one of which will open this week in The Woodlands, Texas this Thursday. Most of the stores are in the U.S. with a few in Canada and Puerto Rico. By comparison, Apple, which started opening stores years before Microsoft, has an estimated 424 stores worldwide and 225 in the U.S. With retail sales of over $20 billion for Apple's stores, they represented 12 percent of the company's revenues. Like Apple and Samsung, Microsoft also has its own specialty departments in Best Buy stores.

Though Microsoft is touting the 98th store, by my count only 59 are full retail stores. The rest are smaller specialty stores. It appears Microsoft is largely opening retail stores in the suburbs of large cities rather than in urban locations. For example the only location in New York City is a specialty store in the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle.

 

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/23/2014 at 1:28 PM


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