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Aug 01

First Verizon Destination Store Mall of America Bloomington Minnesota
First Verizon Destination Store at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota
A widespread change in retail is happening now at the 1st Verizon Destination Store, in the Mall of America. As a Verizon Wireless Buzz Ambassador, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to try out some of the top gadgets featured in the store. It was the first time I was able to be hands-on with even more accessories that the company offers.

Verizon Destination Store In The Mall Of America Tour

A majority of sales for Verizon still take place in its brick-and-mortar stores, so it’s critical for them to innovate. The conversion of their remaining 1,700 retail locations will be setup as smaller “smart stores” taking design queues from the larger destination stores.

Other companies like Apple figured out that a hands-on type of store sells more products than any other layout. This is what ranks them as the top US based retailer, ranked by average sales per square foot. I’ve been to other renovated carrier stores since, to get a real life comparison of what makes the Verizon Destination store unique.

Get Fit Zone Verizon Destination Store
Get Fit Zone Mountain Bike at the Verizon Destination Store

Knowledgeable and nice staff were an immediate great first impression evident at this store. It didn’t feel like someone was hovering over me asking if they could help or find something every five minutes.

Get Fit Accessories Verizon Destination Store
Get Fit Accessories at the Verizon Destination Store

I purposely spent a few minutes in each of the six zones to see if anyone would approach me. Only when I picked up a product and started looking at it more closely did someone come by and ask if I wanted to see how that gadget might work at home or with my smartphone.

Custom Cases Verizon Destination Store
Custom Cases Wall at the Verizon Destination Store

Custom Case Design Tablet Verizon Destination Store
Custom Case Design Tablet at the Verizon Destination Store

Five Key Areas For Verizon Destination Stores

Create: The store has a multitude of cases for the most popular of smartphones. Create customized cases with digital photos in about an hour. A green screen allows you to take a fun photo of yourself with a cool background to personalize a case too.

Learn: Get to know that new tablet or cool accessory with live Wireless Workshops which are hosted in-store daily. A specialist leads the classes via a large touch-screen display.

Listen: The Amplify It zone includes high-end headsets and speakers where you can create your own playlists or hear music from local musicians.

Get Fit: The interactive treadmill will have you working towards a fitness goal in no time. The mountain bike display nearby shows off fitness apps and gadgets like a smart scale or activity tracker from adidas.

Become Part of the Store: The curved digital screen in the center of the store is interactive. Stand in a special spot and images coming flying into view. Pick one of the options flying by to learn more.

Amplify It Zone DJ Deck Verizon Destination Store
Amplify It Zone With DJ Deck At Verizon Destination Store

The Amplify It zone creates auditory excitement to entice people into the store, starting on the left side closest to the front. The School Of Rock has partnered with Verizon to offer a few gadgets that help students learn a skill, like how to become a DJ. An adjacent section had a wall full of portable speakers in a colorful grid pumping out top pop tunes.

Amplify It Zone Headsets Verizon Destination Store
Amplify It Zone With Headsets At Verizon Destination Store

A knowledgeable salesperson in this zone quickly got to the point of what most people want to know about portable speakers. He gave me stats about how long the batteries last, how to pair them to my smartphone or tablet and a demo of what they sounded like with streaming music. After I picked out the speaker I liked most, the Ultimate Ears BOOM, the salesperson showed me even more options of my selection.

LG Tune Pro and Beats by Dr Dre Verizon Destination Store
LG Tune Pro and Beats by Dr Dre at the Verizon Destination Store

The BOOM can be paired with a second one, which is called re-streaming. That doubles the volume or creates left and right stereo. Its 15 hours of battery life; 360-degree speaker design and ability to pair with eight devices while actively being connected to two at once, made it the most impressive at its price. The volume out of one BOOM is enough sound for any small or medium sized party.

Business Zone Accessories Verizon Destination Store
Business Zone Accessories At The Verizon Destination Store

Accessories to get business done were in the section next to Amplify It. The Anywhere Business zone had displays setup for how people might utilize their tablets and smartphones to complete tasks on the go. This is where accessories like Bluetooth headsets, portable cash registers and a multitude of other gadgets for professional scenarios were placed.

TYLT VU charging pad Verizon Destination Store
TYLT VU Qi Wireless Charging Pad At The Verizon Destination Store

TYLT VU Charging Pads Verizon Destination Store
TYLT VU Charging Pads at the Verizon Destination Store

TYLT VU Wireless Charging Pad & VU Mate S4 Receiver Card

Charging smartphones with wireless technology is one of the newest trends that I saw at the store. TYLT, a power backup accessory I’ve reviewed in the past, had several of their products on display that can charge phones wirelessly via the Qi standard. The VU charging pad powered a Nokia Icon and Galaxy S4 via an installable VU Mate receiver card.

Sphero Robotic Balls Verizon Destination Store
Sphero Robotic Balls At The Verizon Destination Store

Parrot AR Drone Verizon Destination Store
Parrot AR.Drone at the Verizon Destination Store

Sphero Robotic Balls As Seen At CES 2013

Playing a game, flying a Parrot drone or generally having fun with technology was naturally the focus of the Entertainment zone. It had a captivating way to play with a row of iPhone 5cs. The Sphero app was loaded onto several of them, which controlled robotic balls around a mini obstacle course.

Sphero Robotic Ball Obstacle Course At The Verizon Destination Store
Sphero Robotic Ball Obstacle Course

I spent most of the time in the store there. A salesperson mentioned to me that the Spheros in the store get more demo mileage than anywhere else. The Sphero 2.0 incorporated improvements discovered from the original toys sent to the location.

Virtual Reality Wall Verizon Destination Store
Interactive Wall At The Verizon Destination Store

An adjacent area to the Entertainment zone had a giant virtual reality wall activated by movement. The screens were constantly showing a series of shifting red boxes that coalesced into the shape of a person when someone stepped into its control area. From there, my store guide showed me how to activate its control points.

Google Nest Verizon Destination Store
Google Nest At The Verizon Destination Store

Near the interactive screen wall was the Home and On The Go zone. A miniature home with live automation accessories were on display. A Dropcam Pro was linked to a tablet to show what video looked like from inside of a room and how its software works through a network. A Nest learning thermostat from Google was also on display showing off its energy saving capabilities. My review of these home automation devices are located in my other post.

Smartphone and Tablet wall Verizon Destination Store
Smartphone and Tablet wall At The Verizon Destination Store

With so many accessories for nearly every type of user, I wondered where they kept all of the smartphones and tablets. A quick look in the back revealed floor to ceiling displays of backup batteries and cases in differing colors and thicknesses from many of the top brands. Large touch screens accompanied all of the smartphones and tablets, which should aid in making the decision process easier.

smartphone and cases wall Verizon Destination Store
Smartphone and Cases Wall at the Verizon Destination Store

Go from gadget shopping online to in-store with Verizon’s integrated shopping cart. This helps to make sure everything that is ordered will work with a particular brand of smartphone and avoid shipping fees. Finishing purchases in the store also gives a salesperson a chance to make an additional sale. Shoppers will have access to same-day delivery from this location.

Google Nest Slingbox Kevo Philips Hue Verizon Destination Store
Google Nest, Slingbox 500, Kevo and Philips Hue LED Bulb at the Verizon Destination Store

Accessories are now the stars of the show at Verizon Destination Stores. Its design will be the basis for all future Verizon retail renovations.

Verizon Destination Store Mall of America Entry
Verizon Destination Store Entry

Smartphones and tablets are wireless hubs with access to the Internet that makes third party gadgets come alive. Custom cases made in-store, virtual reality tech, hands-on demos and knowledgeable people make this store at the Mall of America stand out from all others.

Nokia Lumia ICON Black
Nokia Lumia Icon

Nokia Lumia Icon Unboxing

All photos for this post were taken with a Nokia Lumia Icon available exclusively on Verizon Wireless. The wide-angle lens on the smartphone’s 20MP camera took exactly the photos I needed to finish this post.

VZWBuzz Ambassador Badge

Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for this review. I am a Verizon Wireless Buzz Group Ambassador. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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