Last year, a report from the Chicago Tribune claimed that Google was “close to finalizing a lease” for a flagship retail store in Chicago. The 14,000-square-foot space would have been Google’s first major retail space that wasn’t a temporary pop-up store or a demo area inside a third-party electronics store. Eight months later, the Chicago Tribune is back to report that the deal is off after “Google halted plans late in the leasing process.
When we first wrote up the news eight months ago, it came a caveat: “When it comes to Google and retail, nothing is certain until the store actually opens.” You can add this store to the growing list of started-and-stopped retail projects. Who remembers the infamous Google Barge, a floating modular retail space with a “party deck” built out of an old container ship? Then there was that time in 2015 when Google leased a 5,000-square-foot retail space in New York City, spent $6 million renovating it, and then canned the idea before the store opened.
When asked to comment by the Tribune on this latest deal falling apart, Google only offered the usual “We don’t comment on rumor or speculation.”
Google regularly snaps up real estate for office space, with the latest purchase being New York City’s famous Chelsea Market, but retail stores have been a sore spot for the company. It makes tons of hardware, including smartphones, laptops, smart speakers, Nest smart home products, VR goggles, and more, but it can only show them alongside competing products in general electronics stores. When it comes to brick-and-mortar retail, Google finds itself in its far-too-typical position of chasing Apple, which has over 500 retail stores worldwide.