If you thought all electronics stores are destined to go the way of Circuit City (and possibly Best Buy), think again. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the German manufacturing company that produces Leica cameras plans to open 160 stores worldwide by 2016. One of the major targets of its expansion will be the U.S., where it currently holds less than one percent of the camera market. The first U.S. Leica store already opened in Washington, D.C. last month. (The company operates 37 stores overall).
Leica has an almost legendary status among photography enthusiasts, but it tends to be expensive--a simple point-and-shoot model starts at $700. That's part of what company owners are counting on--that the camera stores will carry the same kind of high-end brand appeal that helped luxury retailers outperform the market in the past few years.
Here's a description of the store design:
Leica's new stores are luxurious and minimalist, like its cameras. The outlets feature black leather furniture from Germany and gray tiles from Italy. The sole color accent: the red featured in the Leica logo. Stores include a retail space, a studio area to demonstrate products, and a gallery—to exhibit photographs shot with Leica cameras—that can be converted into a lecture room for the company's Leica Akademie photography courses.
Check out store photos here.