My trip to an Amazon 4-Star Store

My trip to an Amazon 4-Star Store

I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, so I was especially interested to see the Amazon Books store:

The new Amazon Books opened in Walnut Creek California today…and I was there!

However, I also did other retail (a game store, a Nature Company type store….my first real job was in a novelty shop), which gives me some insight into other types of stores.

When I went to the new amazon 4-star (that capitalization is how it appears on the building) store in Berkeley (one of three in the country), I was really going more as a customer (holiday shopping)…but I always make some evaluation. I also got my Significant Other to take the not inconsiderable drive by saying I was going to write about it for you. 😉

From the outside, I think many people’s impression would be…this is small! One of Amazon’s main points as an e-tailer has been the depth of the selection, and that definitely isn’t it here. You couldn’t park two buses end to end in this place.

However, they have pretty much maximized the space!

There are items everywhere, and my first thought was that it was like a flea market or garage sale. There were categories on the tightly-packed shelves on the walls (there were also islands, tables in the middle of the room), but no physical separation…signs at the top indicated the sections, as I recall.

There could be a $5 item next to a $300 item. The groupings were loosely defined…it wouldn’t have surprised me to see the same item in more than one place in the store.

That said, it was more like a curiosity shop than a garage sale…there were quite a few fascinating items. It almost seemed like it could be the setting for an anthology TV series, where the Rod Serling-esque host might pick up an item and tell us a story about it. 😉

Speaking of prices, there were quite significant discounts on some items for

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

members…not on a lot of things, I think, but definitely worth noting. We saved quite a bit of money, although I didn’t check to see if the same savings were on Amazon at the same time. Unlike the Amazon Books store, prices were clearly displayed.

The flow was…unclear. It wasn’t like a Costco, where people routinely bump into you with carts. More than once, though, I was tempted to say, “Behind!” like they do on those cooking shows when they pass behind another chef.

I was happy I hadn’t brought my wheelchair: I’m sure it is all regulation, but it would have been tough to maneuver.

We were (gently) asked if we wanted help a couple of times…I think twice by the same person, which is a bit of an issue. With my cane, I’m pretty distinctive, and I would think the person would remember having asked me before.

Checking out was quick and easy: we paid with our Amazon Shopping app.

Overall? I don’t think many people would go here looking for a specific item. Yes, they have Amazon devices, but you can get those online or at an Amazon Books store (just to mention a couple of places). It’s more like a place you’d go to browse…and probably come out with a few things. The experience could have been better: the Amazon Books store is quite pleasant, with the appropriate amount of clerk/customer interaction. This one made me feel more like we were on our own. I’d go to the Amazon Books store just because it’s fun…that’s not the case for the amazon 4-star store for me. That’s not a hard thing to adjust, though.

Amazon is at the beginning of its brick-and-mortar journey….and it’s good to see them experimenting.

Have questions or an opinion? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get.


Shop ’til you help!


This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

3 Responses to “My trip to an Amazon 4-Star Store”

  1. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Any other fans of “Warehouse 13” out there? Could this be the anteroom to Warehouse 15? (A real world retailer has already usurped Warehouse 14.)

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I’ve watched quite a bit of Warehouse 13…I liked the characters and the general vibe. It certainly seemed as though it may have been inspired by a certain scene in a certain 1981 movie. 😉

  2. The Year Ahead: 2019 | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] now has a number of brick-and-mortar operations, including the 4-Star stores (My trip to an Amazon 4-Star Store), AmazonBooks (The new Amazon Books opened in Walnut Creek California today…and I was there!), […]

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