Amazon to open retail pop-up store in San Francisco

The store will take the form of a kiosk and will be located in a downtown mall not far from where many tech companies have offices.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

Amazon wants you to go hands-on with its tablets, just like CEO Jeff Bezos. Amazon

Amazon is setting up a retail store in a San Francisco mall for the holidays.

The company has confirmed a report from GeekWire on Monday, which said that Amazon will open a "pop-up" store in San Francisco as well as one in Sacramento. The news is the first acknowledgement that Amazon is expanding beyond its online roots. An October 9 story from the Wall Street Journal said that Amazon will open a physical store in New York City, but the retail giant has yet to confirm that bit of information.

The stores will be set up as kiosks in shopping malls where customers should be able to check out such products as the Kindle e-reader, the Fire phone and tablets, and the Fire TV. The San Francisco kiosk will set up shop at the Westfield San Francisco Centre, a mall located in downtown San Francisco on Market and Fifth streets, not far from where many tech companies have offices. The kiosk is scheduled to open for business on Wednesday, October 22, according to GeekWire, which said that Amazon confirmed the location and the date.

GeekWire and Amazon both mentioned a pop-up store in Sacramento but didn't provide any details on its location or launch date. Amazon also confirmed the information in the following statement sent to CNET:

Yes, we're excited to open new pop-up kiosks in San Francisco and Sacramento in time for the holidays so that customers can try out our new devices. The team is moving incredibly quickly -- already this year we've launched Fire TV, Fire phone, new Fire tablets, new Kindle e-readers and a bunch of new features and services. While customers can already see our products online and at retailers like Best Buy and Staples, we wanted to provide another option to try out our full lineup leading into the holidays. This is similar to something we did last year during the holiday season. More details will be available once it's launched!

Given the October 22 date, the San Francisco kiosk may pop up ahead of a full store reportedly slated to open in New York City in time for the holidays. Citing unnamed sources, the Wall Street Journal said that Amazon's NYC store would be situated across from the Empire State Building and will act as both warehouse and storefront. Customers would be able to order an item online and then pick it up at the store later in the day. So far, Amazon has neither confirmed nor denied the Journal's report.

The company also told CNET that it has made no announcements about a Manhattan location.

Amazon has experimented with physical locations in the past through kiosks, vending machines, and lockers where customers could pick up different products. But the new pop-up stores may be a sign that the company is getting more serious about tapping into the benefits of a retail presence where people can try out actual products and buy them on the spot. That's an especially crucial benefit for the holiday season as most retail sales still come from brick-and-mortar stores.

Update, 9:45 a.m. PT: Adds comment from Amazon.