Samsung Opens Strangely Familiar Retail Presence In Vancouver

July 11, 2012 by Dave Haynes

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So three things come immediately to mind …

1 – Could the designers have tried, even just a little, to not make an Apple store clone?

2 – They found a guy named Politeski to play the nice Canadian?

3 – The store is just up the road – right, left, left and right – from the Canadian HQ of beleaguered Best Buy, which sells a lot of Samsung. Translated in Korean, I think it is: “Pfffffft.”

Anyway, this is the Samsung retail store – the first of its kind in North America – which opened today at the big Metrotown Mall in Burnaby, BC, aka semi-suburban Vancouver.

Reports the Vancouver Sun:

The store launch comes as the company celebrates its latest patent victory over Apple’s attempt to block sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus smartphones; its phone sales have driven the company to a record $9.5 billion US quarterly profit and its newest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III is flying off the shelves.

A showcase for all that is mobile in Samsung’s growing lineup of consumer products — from smartphones, to tablets, notebook computers and digital cameras — the Metro Vancouver store could be seen as a legacy of the 2010 Olympic Games. 

It was the enthusiastic reaction to Samsung’s offical Olympic partner showcases here that put Vancouver on the agenda when Samsung started scouting possible locations for a Canadian store. When a prime spot in the Metrotown shopping centre came up, that sealed the deal.

“Back in the 2010 winter Olympics, since we’re a global partner, we had partnerships and pavilions set up in Vancouver and we interacted with tens of thousands of customers,” said James Politeski, who became the first non-Korean president of Samsung Canada when he was named to the post last December. “Their reaction was ‘wow, Samsung is amazing, these products are amazing, tell us more.’”

Samsung is doing just that with the roll out of it 140-square-metre store, a consumer tech playground that echoes the sleek functionality of the devices that are lined up in ‘experience’ displays as you walk in the door off the Metropolis atrium hub. The idea is to pick up each device, try it out and learn how it connects with other Samsung devices, including televisions, which while not for sale in the store, are there as part of the demo process.

The phones are lined up; there’s a choice of tablets starting with the little Galaxy Note, the tablet with a 5.29-inch display that seems to have found a fit with a niche market, chalking up more than 5 million sales by the first quarter report. As you walk further into the store — the offerings get larger until you reach the notebook computers. Accessories line one wall and if you keep going right to the back, you’ll find Samsung’s version of the Apple Genius Bar, an area set aside for one-to-one or group demonstrations to help customers put the devices through their paces.

“This is a huge play for us,” said Politeski. “We’re super psyched; it’s a beautiful environment in which to experience a multitude of different Samsung products not only how they work themselves but also how they work together.”

While it might be regarded as Samsung taking a page from Apple’s book, with Apple stores already well established across Canada, Samsung would see it as writing its own new chapter.

The big feature is a 3 by 3 video wall, as well as at least a couple super-skinny and sexy LED-driven LCDs. As in the Apple stores, tablets are being used as merchandising/product explainer tools.

I like, for the most part. Always good to see digital fully designed in. I just wish there was a little more spark in the design, though I can imagine there was a row of S. Koreans flat telling the retail design team they wanted their own version of an Apple store.

Money talks.

The store opens on the same day Microsoft announced plans to open its first Canadian store, later this year at the high-end Yorkdale mall in Toronto. Those stores also have lotsa digital, and, yikes, line dancing staffers.

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