Step into the Razer zone
Razer has always done things its own way. Now, the iconic gaming company is opening its first-ever store in the United States, located in the heart of downtown San Francisco, inside the Westfield shopping mall.
Razer invited us to check out the store before its official launch on Saturday, and the company is anticipating a crowd. In Taipei, Taiwan, police had to shut down a mall during the grand opening of the Razer store there because 2,000 passionate gamers showed up.
On the pages that follow, you'll get a sneak peek of the new Razer store before it opens to the general public tomorrow.
A giant LG display greets you
The store has a prime, street-front location where passersby will be hypnotized by Razer's giant LG-powered display, positioned right next to the street-facing windows.
An Apple store, it isn't
The interior of the San Francisco Razer store is murdered out, and looks like the polar opposite of the white, airy flagship Apple store that, coincidentally, is holding its grand opening the same day as Razer.
Razer's iconic ouroboros logo dominates the middle of the room, where people naturally began taking selfies.
You won't find a 'Do Not Touch' sign here
The store, which is actually quite small due to its long and narrow shape, is lined with displays for Razer products, like its family of RGB mechanical keyboards, gaming headsets and laptop systems.
Headphone stations are decked out with custom displays. Here, you can listen to music or watch a movie or game clip to hear how the headphones sound in different situations.
Stay and game
Razer also has its Razer Blade 2015 and Razer Blade Stealth gaming laptops available to try. But the experience will be far different than any other store that lets you peck at the keyboard for a few, as Razer is encouraging gamers to stay and play games.
"We want people to get hands on with our products," Razer Public Relations Specialist Kevin Scarpati tells us. "Our motto is 'Touch. Stay. Play.' It's going to be a great place for you to drop off your kids while you go shop."
A community of gamers
Beyond letting people go hands on with its products, Razer hopes its San Francisco store will build a community of passionate gamers. The company plans to host tournaments and have autograph signings with professional eSports players.
"We want to build a community by nature," says Associate Digital Marketing Manager Andrew Philippou. "People should come into the Razer store and meet naturally by being drawn into the same games."
Games are preloaded onto the demo laptops for visitors to play. You can even sign in with your own accounts if you trust using a public computer. There's no kiosk mode on the laptops either, so they're free to use as full-fledged PCs.
Fun for everyone
The gigantic display along the wall is hooked up to all of the laptops in the store, so Razer can use the screens for tournaments. There are switches at each of the demo stations that allow quick swapping between sources.
Razer also has demo stations for its fight sticks and Wildcat Xbox controller. Journalists and Razer employees had a ton of fun playing Mortal Kombat X together. The set-up should make for an interactive, entertaining experience when customers come to play for themselves.
It's about more than making money
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Razer store is that there's no stock room. There just isn't enough space for one.
"That shows you how little we care about making money with this store," says Scarpati. "We want people to come test our products and go to our online store to buy them."
That's not to say Razer won't have anything in stock at the store, as it plans to carry some smaller peripherals like gaming mice and mouse pads. "We're also very close to Best Buy, so we can send customers to buy things there," says Scarpati.
Razer still sees its online store as the place where customers should get their products, and while its retail partners, like Best Buy, do carry accessories, they don't stock Razer's laptops. It expects gamers will want to customize their systems to their needs, which can only be done via the online store.
Razer still sees its online store as the place where customers should get their products, and while its retail partners, like Best Buy, do carry accessories, they don't stock Razer's laptops. Razer expects gamers will want to customize their systems to their needs, which can only be done via the online store.
Should you visit?
The company hopes people will become part of the Cult of Razer after getting their hands on its devices. Indeed, Razer has a rabid fanbase thanks to its outreach efforts. The company takes customer feedback seriously, and is constantly tweaking its products based on what it hears.
Razer has plans to open more retail stores throughout US and the rest of the world, but didn't comment on any specifics.
Although I found the Razer San Francisco store to be a bit small, its welcoming staff and laid-back approach to retail are truly unique in the industry. There's absolutely no pressure to buy anything, as Razer hopes its products will sell themselves. While it's disappointing that you won't be able to walk out of the store with a laptop, the Razer store will be a great place for passionate gamers to get together, have fun, and try out products they may have never had a chance to otherwise.
If you have some time this weekend and are in San Francisco, drop by the Razer store to check it out yourself. You might want to show up early though as there will most definitely be a crowd.
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