As Google makes more and more hardware products, it makes more and more sense for the company to have some kind of retail arm to show off its stuff. Google has a few “stores within stores” at places like Best Buy in the US and Currys PC World in the UK, setups where the company pays for a premium demo area specifically for its products.
A new report from the claims that Google is starting up its standalone retail ambitions again, this time with a flagship retail space in Chicago’s Fulton Market district. The report says Google is “close to finalizing a lease” for an almost 14,000 square foot space that would consist of “several connected, two-story brick buildings between 845 and 851 W. Randolph St.” This would be just two blocks south of Google’s Chicago headquarters.
When asked for comment, Google gave its usual “We don’t comment on rumor or speculation” statement. Newcastle Limited, the company that owns the space, also declined comment to. Newcastle’s listing of the space is here.
When it comes to Google and retail, nothing is certain until the store actually opens. The company has actually starting building flagship retail stores before only to walk away from the plans at some point during construction. Who could forget the “Google Barges” from 2013, a small fleet of shipping vessels Google acquired with the goal of turning them into floating “interactive showrooms?” The company experimented with building the showrooms out of shipping containers before giving up on the plan and selling off the barges. There was also that time Google leased a 5000 square foot retail space in New York’s SoHo district in 2015. It spent $6 million renovating it for a flagship retail presence before canning the idea and sub-leasing the space.