Google to open Its First Permanent Retail Store this Summer in New York City

Store, in tech giant’s Chelsea campus, will showcase and repair Pixel phones, Nest thermostats, Fibit wearables.

By guest author Matt Grossman from the Wall Street Journal

Google will open its first-ever permanent retail store in New York City in coming weeks, a bet that a physical retail presence can help showcase and sell its products as the pandemic eases.

The store, to be located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, will open this summer and sell items such as Google’s Pixel phones, Nest smart thermostats and Fitbit wearable devices, the company said Thursday in a blog post. The store will also host workshops on using Google products and provide repair and troubleshooting services.

The store will be part of Google’s existing campus in the neighborhood. In 2018, Google bought the 1.2-million-square-foot Chelsea Market building for more than $2 billion, across the street from its even larger office building at 111 Eighth Ave.

“Google has been in New York for the last 20 years, and we view the store as a natural extension of our longtime commitment to the city,” Jason Rosenthal, the company’s vice president of direct channels and membership, said in the blog post.

Alphabet Inc.’s GOOG -0.47% Google has temporarily run pop-up stores in New York and Chicago in the past, but the Chelsea site would be its first permanent location for shoppers. New York City is Google’s second-biggest employee base after its global headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Other giant tech companies have pursued bricks-and-mortar operations with varying results. Apple Inc. opened its first retail store nearly 20 years ago and brought its retail concept to New York City in 2002 with a store in the SoHo neighborhood, not far from Chelsea in downtown Manhattan. In the years since, Apple’s retail empire has grown to hundreds of stores world-wide.

Apple has a large New York City store just across the street from Google’s offices in Chelsea.

Microsoft Corp. , on the other hand, said last year that it would exit its bricks-and-mortar operations more than a decade after opening its first retail location. An executive said at the time that the company’s portfolio was shifting more toward online products.

Apple’s and Microsoft’s stores were both hit by waves of closures amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Google said it would require masks, hand hygiene and social distancing at its Manhattan store.

The company’s announcement coincides with the easing of pandemic-related restrictions in New York, as a vaccination campaign has helped tame the pandemic in the U.S. This week, New York eased mask requirements for vaccinated people, a move that accorded with updated federal guidance.