Mini computer flingers go after a slice of the high street retail Pi

Eben Upton talks to El Reg about hopes, dreams and solid starts

The first Pi shop has opened its doors in Cambridge and, if the first weekend of trading is anything to go by, has done rather well.

Raspberry Pi Foundation supremo Eben Upton told The Register that the location had been selected because the slinger of diminutive computers reckoned the area has the right demographics of techies and those not necessarily technical, but curious enough to take the outfit's wares for a spin, and maybe drop the cost of a decent takeaway on a starter kit.

He also admitted "because it's our home town" before adding: "If we can make the shop work anywhere, it will be in Cambridge."

The store itself is located in Cambridge's Grand Arcade Shopping Centre, alongside department store John Lewis and eye-wateringly expensive cable shop Apple.

Visitors spent the weekend enjoying some hands-on time playing with the tiny machines and browsing the shelves of handy starter packs and, of course, Pi merchandise.

CEO Upton observed: "The shop provides potential customers with a chance to learn about Raspberry Pi, while at the same time giving us a chance to learn more about their needs."

As for whether this might end up being a short-lived experiment or a long-term project, Upton told el Reg that the first three days of revenue from the outlet was well north of £10k, which he reckoned was a "solid start". He added that the gang would need more time get a feel for the overall trend.

Neighbouring Apple might point out that it could exceed the Pi team's takings by just shifting ten or so iPhones. Of course, one would be hard pressed to find much in an Apple store that could come close to the value proposition within the doors of the Pi shop.

The move to retail is an interesting one – the Pi Foundation lacks an online retail presence and relies on the likes of RS Components to sell in bulk, while The Pi Hut targets the makers of the world.

Upton told us: "If there were already a shop in Cambridge doing that good a job of selling the product and presenting the brand I don't think we'd have done this. As it was, nobody's done physical retail for Raspberry Pi outside North America, so it fell to us."

So there.

If things go well, the Pi team is considering a cautious rollout, starting with smaller cities like Oxford, Bath, Edinburgh, York maybe and "broadening out from there", Upton said. ®

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