The first Best Buy in the UK opens its doors this weekend, and Crave has had a preview. The US retailer could shake up our stagnant technology retail sector, or it could be more high prices and bad customer service, only in blue shirts. Take our photo tour and tell us what you think: Best Buy or nice try?
The cavernous first store is in Thurrock, Essex, near Lakeside shopping centre and in a retail park with Ikea, Toys'R'Us and many other consumerist cathedrals. The range of products is much wider than most technology shops, even approaching a department store in selling kitchens alongside TVs and laptops.
We were impressed by the keen and knowledgeable staff, although bear in mind this was a press day and everyone was on their best behaviour. The staff had each been training for a whopping nine weeks, and, interestingly, had been visited and trained by a number of manufacturers, including Sony, Samsung and Ubisoft.
From anecdotal evidence and your comments, it seems many of you are fed up of the level of customer service in PC World, Curry's and Comet. The chaps and chappesses we met today seemed like genuine geeks, recognising the tech publications they were chatting to. Whether this positive first impression will be borne out as you lot steam through the doors from Saturday remains to be seen. Still, if Best Buy's only effect is to make the folks at DSGi buck their ideas up a bit, that'll be a good thing, we reckon.
We're not going to suggest Best Buy is the saviour of technology retail, in terms of customer service or prices. We're simply going to show you around the store with our photo tour, and invite your thoughts in the comments. Click continue to have a look around the Thurrock branch, and let us know if you plan to visit Best Buy -- and if you do, let us know how it went.