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Amazon may roll out of dozens of pop-up stores

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Latest MoneyWatch headlines 01:05

Amazon (AMZN) might soon be opening a store near you.

The online retailing giant, which is credited with contributing to the demise of brick-and-mortar stores like Borders, is planning to open about 100 pop-up stores in malls in the next year, according to Business Insider. Amazon didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Amazon already has one real-world bookstore​ in the Seattle neighborhood of University Village. That store is geared toward allowing consumers to try Kindle devices while also stocking about 5,000 book titles. But the new pop-up stores would be more about selling Amazon’s electronics, including its line of Amazon Basics devices. Those are a private-label line of products ranging from yoga mats to portable chargers for mobile phone that the company has ramped up in recent years.

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“The Amazon Device Pop-Up stores have emerged from the test phase with a goal to expand and grow,” the company noted in a job posting on its site. “We are seeking an experienced Sr. Vendor Manager who will own the branded device, accessory and Amazon Basics categories.”

The pop-up stores are small -- about 300 square feet to 500 square feet -- and will be located in major U.S. malls, according to the job posting. The company has quietly opened several pop-ups at malls including the Westfield Southcenter in Seattle and the Natick Mall in Natick, Massachusetts. Amazon could operate as many as 100 by 2017, Business Insider said.

Amazon appears to be rolling out private-label devices that emulate some of those from third-party vendors that are top-rated, according to Bloomberg News. It highlighted a $43 laptop stand that over a decade had earned a five-star rating from thousands of reviews on Amazon. Last year, Amazon Basics rolled out its own version for less than half the price​. 

The pop-up stores may not be as much a threat to booksellers as to electronics retailers such as Best Buy (BBY​) or Staples (SPLS​), which also sell similar phone cables, batteries, chargers and the like. Amazon may also be aiming to push its Echo device through the stores, given that consumers would be able to get a hands-on demonstration of its voice-control service.

Amazon’s approach may end up more similar to Apple’s (AAPL​) retail footprint than that of a big-box store like Best Buy. Apple opened retail stores not only to sell devices directly to customers, but to engender loyalty through helpful, well-trained employees and a clean, well-lit design. That quickly paid off: Apple’s annual retail sales per square foot surpass those of luxury retailers​ such as Coach and Tiffany by 2011. 

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