An Amazon announcement in Chicago — but not the big one

The e-commerce giant opened Amazon Go, its first cashier-free store outside of Seattle

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and an Amazon Go store (Credit: Getty Images)
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and an Amazon Go store (Credit: Getty Images)

Amazon picked Chicago for a new location outside of Seattle, but it wasn’t quite the big news city leaders and office landlords were awaiting.

The e-commerce behemoth opened its first cashier-free Amazon Go convenience store outside Seattle at 113 South Franklin Street Monday, as Chicago — and the rest of the country — awaits word on where it will locate its second North American headquarters.

The 2,000-square-foot store — the company’s fourth — will be open on the first floor of the building where Amazon’s Chicago office is located, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The firm spent a year testing the concept with company employees before opening to the public in January in Seattle, adding another headache for retailers already dealing with Amazon’s omnipresence and its effects on brick-and-mortar stores.

The store is filled with cameras and sensors that track shoppers and identify the products they select and then charge their accounts without requiring them to stop and check out. Customers scan an app on their phone when they arrive to get the shopping trip started.

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The store carries grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, snacks and other convenience store fare. Some fresh items are prepared by local companies like Fairgrounds, Farmer’s Fridge and I Love Sweets, according to the Tribune.

The Amazon Go stores follow the company’s foray into brick-and-mortar bookstores, including one in Lakeview. The company wouldn’t say how many of the convenience stores it plans to open nationwide, but it has said it’s planning locations in New York and San Francisco, and the Tribune reported locations are coming to the Willis Tower and a building connected to the Ogilve Transportation Center.

Thor Equities’ Joe Sitt, whose New York firm’s Chicago holdings include the Palmer House Hilton and a slew of Fulton Market properties, predicted last week there could be hundreds of Amazon Go stores across the country in the next decade.

As for the big news everyone’s waiting for, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos last week said the company will announce by the end of the year which of the 20 suitors across the country will land its HQ2. [Chicago Tribune] — John O’Brien


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