by Kevin Coupe

A few months ago, I wrote here about b8ta, a store in Palo Alto, California, that leases out small spaces on Apple Store-like tables to technology businesses that want to test out their products' viability. The products range from electric-powered skateboards to juicers, virtual reality viewers to high-tech security systems, and uses a highly trained staff that helps guide customers through the store.

(The original story can be seen here.)

At the time I wrote the story, there were three B8ta stores - in Seattle, Santa Monica, and Palo Alto. So I was interested yesterday to get an email saying that they’re now up to eight … with the most recent one being opened inside Macy’s flagship Herald Square store in Manhattan. And that doesn’t include B8ta sections that are operating in three California Lowe’s stores, in Aliso Viejo, Burbank, and Livermore.

I continue to be intrigued by the b8ta concept, because it is an intriguing way to demonstrate and highlight new products. But the idea of having sections in places like Lowe’s - and Macy’s! - is particularly illustrative of out-of-the-box thinking in which companies in challenged sector need to engage.

It can be an Eye-Opener.