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Google may finally create its first flagship store in Chicago

Google could finally enter the retail space: The company is reportedly closing in on a lease for its first official and permanent retail store, where it will presumably sell Pixel phones, Pixelbook computers, its upcoming smartwatch, and more.

It’s possible the company could also sell third-party devices running Android, Wear OS, and Chrome OS — though if it does, we expect it to put its own devices front and center.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the store will be a two-story, 14,000-square-foot retail store in the Chicago Fulton Market district. It will be located between 845 and 853 W Randolph Street. That, as CNET reports, is right near Google’s Chicago headquarters — presumably no coincidence.

It wouldn’t at all be surprising to see a Google retail store show up. Apple’s retail stores are iconic, and the likes of Microsoft, Samsung, Huawei, and more, all have their own retail stores to boast. Now that Google has been making a big push into first-party hardware for a few years, it makes sense that it would want to start selling those devices in retail locations.

This wouldn’t be Google’s first attempt at a retail store, though. As noted by Ars Technica, Google has canceled plans for a retail store twice in the past. The first time, that took the form of the Google Barge that showed up in the San Francisco Bay, and were aimed at becoming interactive showrooms where Google could show off its products. Then, Google leased a 5,000-square-foot retail space in New York in 2015, and after spending $6 million on renovating the store, it canned the idea and sub-leased the space. Because of its history, it’s important to take the latest news with a grain of salt.

Still, apart from its botched permanent stores, it has found some success in retail. Google has been creating pop-up stores relatively regularly since it started developing and shipping its own hardware.

Google has a long road ahead of it if it wants its retail stores to end up as popular as its competitors — but at least now Google fans may have a place to try out Google hardware with knowledgeable employees.

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