The article claims that Samsung was the pioneer, but I think that NikeTown was at least a decade ahead. When I visited the 57th Street NikeTown in New York in ’95 or ’96, it was all very much about creating the Nike experience, and not much about selling.
“For its first store in the United States, Samsung, the South Korean electronics company, took an unconventional route: It refused to sell anything.
Having leased 10,000 square feet, or 929 square meters, of astoundingly expensive real estate in midtown Manhattan, it instead encouraged customers to commune with its products â€” to check e-mail on Samsung computers, watch reality shows on Samsung flat-screen televisions and make long-distance calls on Samsung cellphones.
No shopping, only loitering.
Samsung called the new concept an “experience store,” and despite fears from the shopping center’s owners that it would become a costly nap room for New York City’s huddled masses, the idea has caught fire.
Last week, AT&T said it would open 11 experience stores across the United States (though theirs would sell products), joining Motorola, Apple, Sony, Maytag and Verizon in opening such outlets over the past several years.”