Proving the old adage that everything old is new again, Amazon is reportedly planning to open its first-ever bricks-and-mortar location in New York City, just in time for the holiday shopping season.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the e-commerce titan is beavering away at renovating a space at 7 West 34th Street in Manhattan, across from the Empire State Building and a block away from the Macy's department store's flagship location.
Details of Amazon's plans are scant, but the WSJ's sources say the site won't be a traditional retail store as such, in that it won't be a place where customers go to ring up purchases at cash registers.
Instead, it will act as a "mini-warehouse" where customers can pick up online orders, as well as stocking a limited amount of product for same-day delivery within New York. It will also be a place where customers can go for a face-to-face experience for product returns and exchanges – and, presumably, complaints, it being the holidays after all.
Or it may not happen at all. The Journal's anonymous tipsters say Amazon is treating the project as an experiment, and that it may change its plans before the store opens or it could quickly close it if the effort proves unsuccessful.
This isn't the first time Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has explored the idea of giving his brand a real-world presence. The e-commerce and e-media mogul, who also owns the Washington Post dead-trees newspaper and its affiliated paper publications, was said to be planning a retail location in Seattle in 2012, but that never panned out.
Amazon has long been experimenting with various ways of getting purchases into customers' hands more quickly, though. It has tested everything from delivering packages to giant pop-up shipping container "lockers," to inking deals with train stations, to floating a cockamamie plan to deliver packages via drones. It even holds a patent on predictive product distribution for same-day shipping.
As for Amazon's West 34th Street location, it's unclear exactly when the e-tailer plans to open the store's doors. Similarly, the WSJ's snooping could not uncover how much it's paying for the prized real estate, how much inventory it will carry, or how long its lease lasts. ®