Would-Be Apple Scoping Manhattan

Steve Jobs can’t sneeze on a storefront without creating a fan frenzy, but a similarly high-end tech store has been scoping Manhattan space without eliciting so much as a tweet. Micro Center, a big-box-size retailer with aspirations to an Apple-like desirability, is scoping Manhattan space, including along top-tier Fifth Avenue, sources tell The Commercial Observer.

The store’s customers have the same education level as a Saks consumer, according to Ed Luken, a spokesman for Micro Center, although he conceded the young, hip IT consultants “are not making nearly as much money.”

Sources say Micro Center has checked out 420 Fifth Avenue, which housed a CompUSA until the store closed a couple of years ago. Broker George Constantin, of Heritage Realty Services, said he’s shown the space to electronics companies but declined to specify which ones. Efforts to contact other major electronics retailers went unrewarded: Indianapolis-based hhgregg said it wasn’t looking at the space, and Radio Shack declined to comment.

Mr. Luken said Micro Center doesn’t comment on specific locations, but noted that it’s been looking in the area. Mr. Luken also sees potential in the bankruptcy filing of Borders as the retailer may vacate some of its Manhattan stores.

Micro Center has 23 locations in major centers such as Washington, D.C., and Chicago, as well as a Yonkers location that opened in the summer. They generally range from 35,000 to 62,000 square feet, but in Manhattan the company is looking for something on the smaller end. The company seeks to position its stores, which features a “knowledge theater,” a “knowledge bar” and an unusually wide selection of computer books, in areas where they will reach an affluent, highly educated customer.

That sounds an awful lot like Fifth Avenue.

True, Mr. Luken said, but added: “You can find that in Harlem today. You can find that in parts of the Bronx. We’re definitely highly interested in all of New York.”



Would-Be Apple Scoping Manhattan