A Glimpse Into the Amazon Mystery Store

Concept originally meant to be large-format site, Bloomberg reports
Photograph: Shutterstock

SEATTLE — The purpose and origin of Amazon’s mystery store on 600 E. Pike St. in Seattle is slowly unraveling as Amazon Go expands to new locations.

A recent report from Bloomberg said that the Pike location was originally built to be the first Amazon Go, and that the plans to build Amazon Go were hatched as early as 2012. The online retailer initially envisioned a concept closer to a grocery store than a convenience store, complete with baristas, butchers and cheesemongers, the report said.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos visited a warehouse set up as the original Amazon Go concept in the fall of 2015 to take the concept for a test run. Bloomberg reported that while Bezos congratulated the team behind the concept on the work they had done, he said the act of shopping there felt disjointed. If all a customer wanted was a candy bar, they could simply grab one and walk out of the store. But if a customer wished to purchase a slice of meat from the butcher, they would inevitably have to wait.

If Amazon were to advertise the concept as a store without lines, he said it would have to deliver in every way. No exceptions. From there, the Amazon Go team shrunk the concept from a grocery store to a convenience store, limiting the shop to items that could be quickly and easily picked.

“It was one of those Amazon things,” one employee told Bloomberg. “’We love it—let’s change everything!’”

Fast-forward to today. There are 13 Amazon Go locations currently open, with four more—one in San Francisco, one in Seattle and two in Chicago—on the way. The upcoming locations range from as small as a 930-square-foot location planned for Chicago’s Merchandise Mart to as large as a 1,425-square-foot unit, also slated for Chicago.

The upcoming 1,150-square-foot Seattle unit is notable for its exact location. Until now, every Amazon Go had been located in a downtown area near plenty of offices. The new Seattle unit will be located in a high-rise apartment complex at 1001 Minor Ave.

Amazon has not released opening dates for any of the upcoming stores. They are all listed as coming soon. As for the mystery store at 600 E. Pike, Amazon has given no indication of when it might open and what it might be like inside.

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