In Depth: iStore

Today I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of the Toronto location of the iStore at Scarborough Town Center.

IMG_1502Now, when I first got the invite for this grand opening, I thought that this was going to be a Apple Store clone. But I was really wrong about that. iStore is an Apple reseller that is very different than the Apple Store. That starts with the types of products they carry:

IMG_1530For example, they have products from Vanesa Rey….

IMG_1527Ted Baker….

IMG_1526Knomo….

IMG_1511B&O Audio Gear….

IMG_1507And Kate Spade to name some brands that they carry. Many of these are not in the Apple Store which allows them to co-exist in places that have an Apple Store, or be a destination for locations that don’t, such as the Scarborough Town Center which is in North East Toronto that has no Apple Store or Apple Reseller in sight. They bill themselves as “technology meets fashion” and I think it’s safe to say that this is true given this product mix. It’s clearly aimed not at someone like yours truly, but at the consumer that is more upscale. And that’s a good thing.

IMG_1508They have a bunch of other cool stuff that varies from drones, GoPro cameras, toys, and more. The iStore has some other unique features as well:

IMG_1514For example, they have a free recharging station for your phone that securely locks up your phone using your fingerprint.

IMG_1515This is where you place your phone and you’ll note that it will charge any device.

IMG_1510

Another unique feature is this area where you can test really expensive high end speakers. It has one neat trick.

IMG_1533

Simply by closing the door, you make it soundproof which allows you to properly judge the quality of the speakers. This is something that is a brilliant idea for the simple reason that you cannot expect someone to drop a few hundred dollars on speakers and have to judge them in a noisy retail environment.

IMG_1513Another cool feature is that there are these thin displays to draw your attention to what they they have on display. Plus all the items are available outside their packaging for you to pick up, touch and examine.

IMG_1535This is perhaps the best example of how accessible everything is. They have displays at a level where kids can touch and play. Plus they have bean bag chairs for them to sit on.

IMG_1519iStore is a Telus partner and you can pick up your next iPad or iPhone and get it onto the Telus network while you’re in the store.

IMG_1518You can also get your next Mac here as well, though I will note that they have a consumer focus. Thus you’ll have to go elsewhere for your next Mac Pro. Another note, the Macs, iPhones and iPad only take up about 20% of the real estate. That’s the exact opposite of the Apple Store where the same products take up 80% of the real estate.

IMG_1532Even with all this press in the store, it is very open and I never felt claustrophobic. It’s also not overwhelmingly bright which is a complaint that I have about the Apple Store.

iStore in Scarborough Town Center is open now. If you’re in the Greater Toronto Area, pay them a visit if you’re in the market for an iDevice or a Mac, or accessories for either. I truly believe that you’ll like the store and perhaps even Apple will have a look to see what they can learn from iStore about how retailing computers and accessories should be done.

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