The Source plugs into Pearson

The electronics retailer secures its second Canadian airport location, with an interactive concept that sets the stage for a wider store redesign.

The Source is extending its foray into the airport space, looking to build on its success in Montreal as it prepares to set up shop at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Designed by Shikatani Lacroix, the new space is an interactive, open concept with more of a kiosk feel than its Montreal locale. It maintains a small box concept but is more open, allowing for more consumer-product interaction with lower tables to display multiple tablets, laptops, phones and other items shoppers want to touch, feel and experience before buying, says Ron Craig, VP, marketing and business development, The Source. Featuring brands such as Apple, Beats, Samsung and Sony, the location will also carry headphones and travel tech items. Slated to open Nov. 1, in time for the holiday season, Craig says it’s situated in a spot where travellers are sure to notice after they pass security.

Along with Shikatani Lacroix, the retailer is also developing a new concept for its traditional stores, which will include features of the Pearson space. A prototype of the new store is slated to be complete by the end of the year, with the aim to roll out the new concept next year, says Craig.

“[The Pearson store] is a scaled-down version of where we’re taking our new retail experience so we’re looking forward to the response,” he says. “The research that we’ve done on our retail design shows that it’s a good evolution of what people like from The Source but gives them much more hands-on exposure to electronics which is what retail is really becoming all about –  making an experience destination.”

The retailer has also been evolving its brand the past couple of years, expanding its offering of accessories, add-ons and convenience items to main devices such as tablets and laptops.

The retailer has been pleased with the results from its Montréal-Trudeau airport location since its launch at the end of 2012, says Craig, so when Pearson approached it with the opportunity to set up shop at the U.S. departures area, which is undergoing renovation, the retailer jumped aboard.

“The airport locations are a great fit because we’re a small box retailer with a lot of experience and expertise in a similar type of customer because we’re primarily a convenience play,” he says, “but we also have more a service bent so that environment lends itself to what we do.”

At its U.S. departures location, The Source will not face any direct competition, as Best Buy will have vacated a vending machine it operated by then, says Craig. Other vendors might offer similar products, such as a more general store selling headphones, but it will be the only pure-play electronics retailer.

The new locale’s target consumer is broader than those its traditional retail stores might reach, says Craig, noting traveller demographics for that area of the airport point to business travellers and families.

As such, the store will offer products to appeal to both groups from gaming and products to keep kids busy on flights and during vacation to items a business traveller might need.

At its Montreal location, consumers are often looking for accessories for their trips such as charging cords, headphones tablets and e-readers, he adds. Noting the presence of a captive audience, he says the new Pearson locale will enable people to sample items such as a PlayStation4 or Xbox, headphone-listening and phone-charging stations.

“You’re there generally an hour before your flight,” he says. “It gives people an opportunity to interact with our products and our brand.”

Craig says the retailer will explore a launch of sorts closer to the unveiling, while the opportunity for expansion to other airports could be on the horizon.

“What we’ve seen out of Montreal certainly was enough to indicate that the airport-type location – we lend ourselves quite well to it, so as others become available, we’ll certainly consider them.”

Feature image: A conceptual rendering of the Pearson location