Best Buy testing new kinds of stores in effort to boost sales

October 06, 2004|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

MINNEAPOLIS - Best Buy Co., the No. 1 consumer electronics retailer, will test a new store that offers health and wellness products, a pharmacy and spa treatments as it explores methods for boosting sales.

The experimental store, EQ-Life, is to open early next year near Best Buy's headquarters in Richfield, Minn., spokeswoman Susan Busch said yesterday. The retailer also is testing Studio D, a store that teaches shoppers how get the most out of their electronics purchases.

Best Buy, which is encountering increasing competition from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other retailers in selling televisions, laptop computers and other items, is exploring ways to maintain its sales lead.

The company unveiled a program this year to focus stores on selling to their most lucrative customers, and it has expanded into Canada.

"We're a growth company and we're always testing new concepts," Busch said. "All have technology at the center of them."

The 18,000-square-foot EQ-Life store will sell technology-related health products as well as nutritional supplements and exercise products. The store is the result of 18 months of research that found an opportunity to sell health and wellness products and services under one roof to aging baby boomers, EQ-Life spokeswoman Sue Lee said.

The store will appeal mostly to women older than 35 who might work and have families, Lee said. The opening of the store has been reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Studio D opened a 5,300- square-foot store last month in Naperville, Ill., that sells technology in homelike settings. It offers shoppers workshops on maximizing use of digital cameras, computers and video editing software, according to its Web site. The store also provides printing services and rentals.

Best Buy shares fell 31 cents to close at $54.66 yesterday.

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