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AT&T opens 'experience' store in Laurel

AT&T has opened a new experience store at Towne Centre Laurel, where users can sample devices and talk to employees about their products. (Luke Lavoie/Howard County Times video)

AT&T opened an interactive, specialty retail store – dubbed the "Store of the Future" by the company – last weekend inside Towne Centre at Laurel, bringing the number of specialty stores in Maryland to three.

The store is called an "experience store" and aims to offer the shopper a more hands-on and in-depth shopping experience than a traditional wireless retail outlet.

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The open concept store features a modern design and feel, and it is divided into zones that feature different product types (wireless phones, tablets, audio devices, home security, etc.).

Kevon Dewitt, retail sales manager for AT&T's Prince George's and Montgomery County stores, said the store gives customers "a white glove experience" regardless of what they are shopping for.

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Dewitt said the concept is predicated on interaction with the store's products.

"They literally can walk from zone to zone and learn more about how our products can be incorporated into their day-to-day lives at work and at home," he said.

Dewitt said the experience begins at the door where the customer is greeted by a sales representative who interviews them.

From there they are queued onto a waiting list, which is visible on one of the many flat-screen televisions in the store.

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Dewitt said the customer is handed off to a sales representative, who takes them to the different zones. If a customer wants to make a purchase, they are handled by the sales representative right there. There are no cash registers or checkout counters in the store.

There are currently 40 "experience" stores in the country and three in Maryland, according to AT&T. The Laurel location, which held a grand opening on Jan. 31 that featured Washington Redskins player Jordan Reed, is located inside the new $130 million Towne Centre Laurel development.

The large mixed-use, open-air retail plaza opened late 2014 on the former site of the Laurel Mall.

The first "experience" store in Maryland opened last March in the Mall in Columbia.

Dewitt said Laurel was chosen for the third location for two reasons: the Towne Centre development and the opportunity in the market.

"We really wanted to increase our presence here," he said. "We are proud to be here."

On being in the new development, Dewitt said: "We really wanted to be a part of it, and it was a great fit for us," he said. "We think we can bring a lot to the area and to the Towne Centre development as well."

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