Amazon 4-star store opens in Glendale, the first for Southern California

December 5, 2019

By Kevin Smith | San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Ever wished you could walk into a store that has virtually every product you’re looking for as well as merchandise that’s trending in your area?

That’s the philosophy behind the new Amazon 4-star, which opened Thursday at The Americana at Brand mall in Glendale.

The 4,000-square-foot store carries highly rated products from top categories across all of Amazon.com, ranging from consumer electronics, kitchenware and home goods, to toys, books and games.

As Amazon ventures into brick-and-mortar stores, the big question is whether or not the concept will resonate with customers who can click and buy from home.

“I think they will continue to roll out more Amazon 4-star stores,” said Burt Flickinger III, managing director for the retail consulting firm Strategic Resource Group. “From what we’ve seen, the pricing on products is better in those stores that at Best Buy or Fry’s.”

Flickinger said the store’s use of custom categories, such as “Trending Around Los Angeles,” is a particularly shrewd move.

“This is one of the most innovating moves in retail, and we’ve studied retail going back decades,” he said. “People between the ages of 18 and 29 are buying a lot of things online, and with this format, they don’t have to plow through places like Best Buy or Barnes & Noble. This makes it easy because shoppers can go right to what’s hot.”

The online retail behemoth is also making moves into brick-and-mortar grocery stores, with locations coming to Woodland Hills and Irvine.

More locations planned

The Glendale location is the first Amazon 4-star store in Southern California and the eighth nationwide, which includes another store in Berkeley. More California locations are planned for Burlingame and Corte Madera, company officials said.

Everything the Glendale store carries is either rated 4 stars and above by Amazon customers, a top seller or is new and trending on Amazon.com.

Looking for a Ring Video Doorbell Pro with high-definition video capture? Amazon 4-star is selling it for $249. An Echo Dot smart speaker with Alexa is priced at $24.99, and an Instant Pot Duo 60 7-in-1 electric pressure cooker is $49.

“Our stores are highly-curated and a direct reflection of our customers — what they’re buying and what they’re loving,” the e-commerce giant said in a statement.

In selecting merchandise for the stores, Amazon’s curators look at pre-orders, sales trends, customer reviews and ratings, customer wish lists and what Amazon.com editorial teams have curated online.

Specialized sections

The store has specialized sections, including “Most-Wished-For on Amazon.com,” “Trending Around Los Angeles” and “This Season’s Top Toys.” Many of the products come with customer review cards that include quotes from Amazon shoppers.

There’s also a device section where shoppers can test-drive Amazon devices and accessories, including the Echo Dot and other smart home accessories that work with Alexa.

The online retailer also has Amazon Books locations in Westfield Century City, Waterside at Marina Del Rey and Palisades Village, as well as an Amazon Pop Up store Westfield Century City.

A stronger foothold in food

Amazon is also gaining traction in the food industry.

The company announced last month that it will open a new grocery store at 6245 Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Woodland Hills where a Toys “R” Us was formerly located. It will be separate from the Whole Foods chain of stores the company acquired for $13.7 billion in 2017 and the Amazon Go cashier-free convenience stores it operates.

“When Amazon acquired Whole Foods they found that the newer format stores Whole Foods had recently opened were so poorly designed that they could do a better job by starting over with new stores,” Flickinger said. “We spent 14 months going to all of the Whole Foods stores in major markets and many of them were seeing half a million to a million dollars in revenue losses per year.”