AT&T debuts new concept store at Marketplace at El Paseo

The Business Journal — January 19, 2015

AT&T’s store of the future opened today in Fresno.

The new, 3,300-square-foot retail outlet — which AT&T calls its concept store — is located at 6733 N. Riverside Drive in The Marketplace at El Paseo shopping center in northwest Fresno.

The store features a floor plan specifically designed to “reinvent the shopping experience” for AT&T customers, said Julie Tone, the company’s director of external affairs.

From cafe-style “learning tables” and brightly lit, hands-on displays and lounge areas with leather sofas to flat-panel, big screens and even mock tubs of movie theater popcorn, the new store is specifically designed to encourage customers to get up close and personal with the company’s increasingly wider array of phones, apps and video and audio services and accessories.

“This is a totally new way of treating retail,” Tone said. “There are no cash registers, no standing in line, with way more employees and way more open space” than the company’s more traditional retail locations.

Each of the store’s 22 employees carry a tablet supported by a new mobile point-of-sale system that allows them to help customers “on the spot,” said Jack Martinez, the store’s manager.

“We want our customers to have an immersive, engaging experience when they come in,” Martinez added. “Our goal is to revolutionize the retail experience.”

Tone said AT&T is “investing millions” to expand and improve the customer experience in its corporate-owned stores.

The new Fresno location is one of only 45 concept stores AT&T currently operates throughout the U.S. and the first of its kind to open in the Central Valley. Many of the new store’s design and merchandising elements were first rolled out in 2014 at the company flagship store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

AT&T currently operates four "traditional" retail stores in Fresno and one in Clovis — and more than 750 stores throughout California.

A number of local dignitaries, including Fresno County Supervisor Brian Pacheco and Fresno City Councilman Steve Brandau, attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was held prior to the store’s 10 a.m. opening.

“We love it when people get creative and are willing to invest in our town,” said Brandau, who was particularly fascinated with a “party-in-a-box” audio product on display adjacent to a shiny electric guitar.

“AT&T does so much around town to support our community,” Brandau said. “This new store, along with all of the others here [in the Marketplace at El Paseo], are going to grab a lot of tax dollars going up and down Highway 99.”

As part of the grand opening, Tone presented a $65,000 check to the Boys and Girls Club of Fresno County. The donation, she explained, will help support the organization’s “Be Great” mentoring program, which is designed to assist 9th grade students in making a successful transition to high school.

A number of students enrolled in the program attended the event.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, who was scheduled to speak at the ribbon cutting but was unable to attend, said in a statement: “We are committed to bringing new goods and services to Fresno consumers, and this is the kind of investment that we want to celebrate as we continue to grow our local economy. Any time we can celebrate the opening of a new store in Fresno, especially one with a new cutting-edge retail concept, it’s a great day.”

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AT&T's new concept store opened today in Fresno at the Marketplace at El Paseo shopping center.

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