One of the most interesting trends in recent commercial retail maintenance history is the rise of the flagship store concept, which retailers designate as the centre of their distribution, sales and marketing endeavours.
Often this involves a completely different and expanded store design, such as the lavish Liverpool Lush Spa store, which consists of three floors and is far more of an event to go to than the typical, much smaller retail locations.
However, one of the strangest flagship store stories in history revolves around one of the most bizarre and fastest rise and fall stories in technology history.
The Gizmondo was a portable video game system and general entertainment device made by Tiger Telematics as a competitor to the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP, backed by a surprisingly lavish marketing campaign for a technology startup.
This included a flagship store on Regent Street in London, initially based on Carnaby street before moving three months before the console’s launch, which according to photographs taken at the time by the website UK Resistance, attempted to borrow from the minimalist style of Apple’s stores.
Style and glamour was the ultimate goal of the Gizmondo store, with the store intending to be less as a place to sell and stock the games system and its small library of games, but as an event location in its own right where you could try a Gizmondo and potentially see celebrities or be part of the film Goal.
Many of the celebrities who went to the 19th March launch party in the nearby Park Lane Hotel, including the late Verne Troyer and recently retired undisputed boxing champion Lennox Lewis, visited the flagship store, which managed to bring Regent Street to a standstill.
However, despite this rush of publicity, only 25,000 units were sold during the single year Tiger Telematics were in business, caused in no small part by executive Stefan Eriksson’s publicised links to Swedish organised crime groups and an infamously violent crash in an exotic Ferrari Enzo.
By February 2006 the company had been liquidated and the strange story of the Gizmondo store reached a sudden and dramatic conclusion.