Experiential retailer b8ta later this year plans to open its first Minnesota location at the Mall of America.
Much like Apple’s retail locations, b8ta’s stores allow consumers to test out a variety of tech products before making a purchase. b8ta operates a “retail-as-a-service” model, where outside tech companies place their products in the retailer’s stores.
b8ta’s Mall of America store measures 2,900 square feet, according to a company news release. The store will be on the mall’s first level.
“We’re so pleased to bring b8ta to Mall of America as we continue to expand our experiential retail footprint across the country,” said Carrie Kelly, b8ta’s senior VP of partnerships and business development.
b8ta operates 17 other stores at malls in other major metros. The closest store is in Chicago.
The company’s investors include Macy’s. In 2018, b8ta closed a $19 million fundraising round.
“The reality is Macy’s is one of the most important companies in the country,” b8ta CEO Vibhu Norby told TechCrunch last year. “It’s not that retail itself is dying. It’s just that it’s changing. The way people want to shop is changing, and we have a shared alignment on bringing the next generation of a company into the space.”
b8ta also has been begun piloting its retail-as-a-service model outside the electronics realm. Earlier this month, the company announced a joint venture with Toys R Us owner Tru Kids Brands. As part of the deal, the two are rolling out new, more interactive stores.
A year ago, Toys R Us shuttered all of its U.S. locations.