As Google makes more and more hardware products, it makes more and more sense for the company to have some kind of retail arm to show off its stuff. Google has a few “stores within stores” at places like Best Buy in the US and Currys PC World in the UK, setups where the company pays for a premium demo area specifically for its products. Google also has the occasional temporary “pop-up store” for holidays. A standalone brick-and-mortar Google Store has never materialized, though, despite several attempts.
A new report from the Chicago Tribune claims that Google is starting up its standalone retail ambitions again, this time with a flagship retail space in Chicago’s Fulton Market district. The report says Google is “close to finalizing a lease” for an almost 14,000-square-foot space that would consist of “several connected, two-story brick buildings between 845 and 851 W. Randolph St.” This would be just two blocks south of Google’s Chicago headquarters.
When asked for comment, Google gave The Tribune its usual “We don’t comment on rumor or speculation” statement. Newcastle Limited, the company that owns the space, also declined comment to The Tribune. Newcastle’s listing of the space is here.
When it comes to Google and retail, nothing is certain until the store actually opens. The company has actually started building flagship retail stores before only to walk away from the plans at some point during construction. Who could forget the “Google Barges” from 2013, a small fleet of shipping vessels Google acquired with the goal of turning them into floating “interactive showrooms?” The company experimented with building the showrooms out of shipping containers before giving up on the plan and selling off the barges. There was also that time Google leased a 5,000-square-foot retail space in New York’s SoHo district in 2015. It spent $ 6 million renovating it for a flagship retail presence before canning the idea and sub-leasing the space.