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Verizon, AT&T to set up mini stores inside Best Buy outlets

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The nation's two largest wireless providers are setting up shop in Best Buy stores across the country in an effort to reach more customers.

In separate announcements Tuesday, Verizon and AT&T said they will create "experience" stores in 250 Best Buy retail outlets by the end of the year; many of those outlets will have mini stores from both providers, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports.

Three stores in Minnesota will have Verizon and AT&T shops: those in Richfield, Rochester and Duluth, according to the Business Journal.

In a news release, Verizon said the store-within-a-store arrangement will allow the company to showcase "connected lifestyles" involving wearable technologies, mobile computing and connected homes.

And obviously, the wireless providers want to sell the devices and wireless plans that are needed to support that lifestyle, notes Android Authority.

The online publication points out that the concept isn't new for Richfield-based Best Buy: It has set up similar mini-store arrangements with Apple, Samsung, Sony and Microsoft in recent years.

Why are these mini stores a good idea?

CNET says the outlets can help companies better promote their products – which would otherwise be simply displayed on a store shelf - through demonstrations and one-on-one encounters with customers. They also save the providers the expense and the risk of setting up their own separate retail outlets.

Verizon says it expects to set up its mini stores in 100 Best Buy outlets by the end of September, and another 150 will be in place before the end of the year.

Best Buy is also pursuing the store-within-a-store concept in reverse. It announced a trial run last week to open 300-square-foot shops in 10 Macy’s stores in November.

The test program will allow Best Buy to sell a range of devices, including Samsung smartphones, smart watches, tablets and accessories, to department store shoppers.

According to Macy’s, the 10 Best Buy shops will be opened in “various markets in the U.S.,” but the precise locations aren’t yet clear.

“We are delighted that consumer electronics will be returning to selected Macy’s stores through this test, which will allow us to learn how we can best serve our customers’ needs in this very sophisticated category,” Macy’s, Inc. President Jeff Gennette said. “We will test and learn, along with Best Buy, through the holidays and into 2016 before deciding on next steps.”

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