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Meeting Of The Minds

A budding relationship between electronics big-box retailer Best Buy and Apple, Inc. will expand a line of Apple stores-within-stores at Best Buy locations after a pilot test this summer turned out to be a hit with consumers.

Overall, Best Buy announced plans to raise the number of the mini-stores from the initial run of 50 to 300 by the end of the year. The rollout began with 50 units this spring and currently involves 200 locations. The mini-stores, which average 1,000 square feet, sell primarily Apple computer products and accompanying accessories, and employ Apple-trained “Geniuses,” similar to the ones found at Apple's freestanding locations — but not to be confused with Best Buy's own troupe of techies, the Geek Squad.

Best Buy declined to reveal how much of an impact the mini-stores will make on its sales, but a spokesman for the company says Best Buy customers are very excited about the new addition. Best Buy began selling Apple computers only in December of last year. (The two firms used to work together in the 1990s, but parted ways in 1998 because of a disagreement over how to stock Apple's merchandise.)

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