Tablets, smartphones and jumping "sumo" drones. Countless accessories for audio and the connected home. These are just a few of the things Verizon Wireless wants Bostonians to see at its new "Boston Destination Store," located on Boylston Street., in the city's Back Bay neighborhood.
The 8,000-square-foot retail space is a far cry from the traditional cell phone shop. It showcases roughly 1,700 products, all meant to complement and enhance your wireless devices by expanding their functionality, according to Michael Murphy, spokesman for Verizon Wireless New England. That's compared to between 500 and 1,000 products on display in the typical Verizon shop.
A hands-on approach
Verizon says it wants visitors to engage and interact with its representatives and the products on display in new and creative ways. For example, you can experience the audio quality of its Bose headphones by mixing your own tracks using Samsung Android tablets and a special Verizon app, which includes audio clips created by local artists. You can hop onto an exercise bike in front of a giant display that simulates bike rides through locations of your choice (using Google Street View imagery) and helps demonstrate various fitness gadgets.
The store is composed of six specific "zones," surrounded by a variety of Boston-themed decorations, charging stations and touch-screen displays. (Murphy says a few of the store’s 70 staffers are assigned to constantly clean the screens and devices to reduce the spread of germs.)
The six zones include spots for audio accessories, fitness gadgets, connected home devices, electronic toys for kids (and those who wish they were), phone cases and small business. A payment kiosk lets you pay bills. It even has a small "selfie booth," complete with costumes and cardboard cutouts of local celebrities that's open to all visitors.
The phone-case zone lets you create personalized cases for a variety of devices, using your own photos from Flickr, Instagram, Facebook or a camera roll. You can even scan printed photographs for use in custom cases. The process takes about 30 minutes, depending on how many others are also creating cases, Murphy says.
Verizon Destination stores aim to help you learn about your current devices, teach you how the latest and greatest gadgets can expand the value of those devices, and both answer questions and solve technology problems, according to Murphy. To that end, the company set up a special "workshop" area where you can attend group-training sessions and schedule custom sessions, all free of charge.
Verizon takes the hybrid road
The store is notable because it represents a clear shift for Verizon Wireless, from telecommunications provider to hybrid of wireless carrier and electronics retailer. For example, the Boston Destination Store is packed with a number of devices that don't employ the Verizon Wireless network at all.
The Boston store opened on March 19. It's the company's fourth destination location and the first such store located on the East Coast. The first Verizon destination store opened in 2013 in Bloomington, Minn., followed by the Chicago and Houston stores in 2014. Murphy says Verizon plans to open additional destination stores in the future, but it hasn't released specifics on timing or locations.
The company is celebrating the launch this weekend in Boston with a series of local celebrity meet and greets, including sessions with music and TV star Donnie Wahlberg and Red Sox legend Jim Rice. You can find more information about the Verizon Wireless Boston Destination Store on the company's website.