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"Pop-up" Amazon stores are in 12 states, including two in Washington State. Credit: Amazon
“Pop-up” Amazon stores are in 12 states, including two in Washington State. Credit: Amazon

Amazon is following the lead of fellow tech giants Apple and Microsoft in establishing retail locations in major malls throughout the U.S.

The pop-up stores, as Amazon calls them, have a full complement of Amazon devices from the Alexa-powered Echo speaker, to Dash buttons, to various Kindle models. A website for the stores shows 21 locations in 12 states, and the online retail giant could have as many as 100 locations nationwide by next year, according to a report from Business Insider. There are already two stores in the Seattle area: at Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood and Westfield Southcenter in Tukwila.

Apple has long been the standard-bearer when it comes to retail experience among tech companies. Apple has 485 stores worldwide, and its stores have become as recognizable as the devices themselves. Microsoft followed suit in 2009 when it opened its first store, and now Amazon is making its move to connect with customers in a physical space. The concept is relatively new for Amazon, as there were only six of these stores at the end of last year, Business Insider, reports.

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The stores are about 300 to 500 square feet — much smaller than Apple stores — and are typically located in the middle of the mall, rather than in a storefront. Pop-up retail refers to stores that open seemingly over night and go away just as fast. They usually have short leases, but Business Insider identified at least one Amazon store that opened in 2014 in San Francisco’s Westfield Mall and remains there today.

Curiously enough, Amazon’s devices division, rather than its retail team, is leading the pop-up store effort. The stores may be a way to get people to try out the company’s popular Alexa-run devices for themselves.

The pop-up stores are separate from the company’s brick-and-mortar bookstore push, which kicked off last year with its first store in Seattle. Amazon has also confirmed three other stores in San Diego, Portland and Chicago.

Another example of Amazon’s brick-and-mortar strategy is the company’s plan to open drive-up grocery stores. GeekWire reported last month that a 9,759-square-foot retail space where customers can pick up groceries that they’ve ordered online is set to open in Seattle, in what the company calls “a new model of grocery shopping.”

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