Adafruit is coming to a Micro Center near you :) @microcenter
Micro Center is a destination retailer designed to satisfy the dedicated computer user, they’re one of the best places to get Do It Yourself Electronics, 3D Printer Parts & Accessories and more – and now, the Adafruit product line up is coming to a Micro Center near you.
Adafruit waited to do retail in a big way. Why? Because we wanted to do it right, with the right partner, for the right reasons, and the right time – it’s Micro Center and it’s now 🙂
Micro Center is one of the largest computer and consumer electronics retailers in the United States. Despite the down economy, we have experienced extraordinary growth over the past several years. We have achieved:
Double-digit same-store sales growth every year
Strong monthly growth in new customers in all markets
Laptop sales trending 30 percent higher than the industry average
Desktops sales bucking the U.S. industry by rising over 10 percent
Opening six new regional stores since 2007, for a total of 25 stores across the U.S.
New stores with more floor space and specialized customer service areas
A new and exciting store format for legacy stores with many new merchandising opportunities
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Congratulations! I’ve goaded Microcenter to stock more Maker items for several years in their customer surveys and they have come through in their expansion of electronics, 3D printers, etc. It’s my go-to store in the Mid-Atlantic (when I’m there).
I have some advice that you might look to work with the Microcenter team on:
1) Packaging – the Arduino Tinkerkit items in their antistatic bags were the worst example of retail packaging. Hard to know what Tinkerkit did what, doubly so when you could not see the part or see any explanation on how to use it. Great packaging = better sales. Web links are good, what works with what or other how to use on package helps even more.
2) Product Display Section – I have complained to Microcenter that the electronics parts have been in disarray a number of times – things mixed up, not grouped well, this mixed with that. If you can get a dedicated section within the electronics section or otherwise have the Adafruit items logically grouped that would be good.
3) Cleanliness – a commitment that the Maker section will be policed by associates who know what is what and will reorganize the section, restock it, take care of it.
4) Knowledgeable Associates – I have helped a couple of people in-store, like a kid who wanted a continuous servo for a car with his mom. The associates at MC were always quick to help in the laptop or TV section but they _never_ have helped in the parts section as they don’t know what is what. This was one of RadioShack’s downfalls, kids who didn’t know a resistor from a BLE board. While one does not need to have a full time EE there, train the folks on the basics to help and to know what is what.
Microcenter has the platform to become a great place for people to get 21st century items for home & hobby. Getting them to adopt some of the Adafruit love of their customers will get them very far indeed. Stock != growth, Customer Education = growth.
Will there be a way to check stock availability at local µcenter in AdaFruit store? Because my use case here is “go to AdaFruit, click on a bunch of things I need from the AdaFruit store”, and when I get to the point where I am ready to place my order, that’s the point where I want to make a decision about whether to proceed with the online order or drive to a local store. Otherwise, 99% of the time it’s going to be easier to just order from AdaFruit than to fiddle with two websites and two ordering systems.
Too bad they closed the Micro Center here in Silicon Valley. Now there is no Micro Center near me. 🙁
NeoPixels, DotStars, Trinket/Pro Trinket, Flora/Gemma line
Microcenter is above the old RadioShack. At Microcenter, you can order what they have in stock and it’s ready at their Internet desk in 18 minutes (their number they strive for) or have it sent from their webstore (except for the cheap in-store specials). Which is great as I hate to go to a store only to find an out of stock peg.
Microcenter has had near-cost Arduinos and PasPis on occasion which are great and they get people in-store to buy (or at least browse) accessories and other items.
I want to see LED products, Other components (battery packs, speakers) , wearables, and Adafruit Audio FX Sound Boards in the Columbus location.
Flora/Gemma, sewable neopixels. Other costuming/cosplay stuff, always good to have a local source.
Is this a new official distribution? I’ve been to the MicroCenter in Cambridge, MA a number of times and I’m pretty sure they had Adafruit products.
Trinket, Getting Started with Adafruit Trinket and bundles of projects with the book 🙂
Perma-proto in all sizes please 🙂
OK – I am all for this, as I am a frequent shopper at the Northern Virginia Micro Center. BUT in true Micro Center style — economically efficient but dowdy as hell — the section of Raspberry Pi, Arduino and Beaglebone products and accessories is always in disarray: parts and components falling off overcrowded displays, poorly labeled and neglected. It has been a mess since the section was opened.
Similar silliness faced Apple in retail stores. It led an exasperated Steve Jobs to pioneer the well-staffed and highly profitable Apple corporate stores.
Adafruit, I hope Micro Center will give your relationship the attention it deserves and not allow your products and displays to become an embarrassment – and that you ‘trust but verify’. This is even more an opportunity to succeed now that Radio Slack is collapsing.
Sensor breakout boards, displays(LCD,7-seg,TFT),LED arrays.
DC to DC converters and batterys to go with them.
What drives interest in a particular breakout board or product is the tutorial on the Adafruit learn part of the web site. While the idea of a printed copy of the tutorial with a product is probably to costly and old school a QR code on the package pointing to the Learn site tutorial might be a good idea.
The Microcenter in Columbus, OH has a decent amount of Adafruit inventory already. I suspect they get them through their MCM supplier. I would like to see more TFT displays stocked locally, but I’m just happy you’re partnering up with them.
I worked at the Columbus Microcenter in the late 90’s. The company has (or at least it had) a pretty solid training program for employees. There were mandatory training classes for new hires. I’d say it is slightly less involved than a CompTIA A+ class. They had a LOT of other subject material available to employess for free but those were all optional and based on manager’s discretion and whether the employee could be off the sales floor for the it took to complete. I would suggest trying to port some of the awesome Adafruit Learning System content into that employee training program. It would better equip the sales people to help customers and it would probably boost sales of Adafruit merch too. Everybody wins. Hopefully that program hasn’t disolved in the past 18 years. 🙂
Congratulations on the new partnership!
This is excellent news.
Very excited to expand the product for our customers here at Cambridge Micro Center. We are a mile away from MIT, Harvard and BU, and it will be a great addition for all the tinkerers in the area. The DIY is really popular here and growing rapidly. In fact, our Raspberry Pi clinics are some of the most popular ones, and Adafruit’s selection of products is just awesome.
Looking forward to this partnership.
I buy DIY product for Micro Center, and I’m loving all the feedback and suggestions.
It’s true, a few of our stores have struggled to keep up with the pace the DIY section has been expanding. 2 years ago, we had less than 10% of the selection. This sort of feedback is *always* encouraged; it helps us learn and grow. Mike, if you tell me which store is your home store, I can contact them and see what support they need from me to improve the customer experience.
We definitely plan to do more free clinics, and my plan is to send Adafruit’s awesome tutorials out as training to associates. Don’t worry, Brad, associates still have required monthly training!
Samantha: Vienna, Virginia
This is very interesting news and I definitely hope it works. I would be most interested in the various LED and LCD displays. i probably spend more time looking at those items and the various shields or hats to connect them. Right now I work with Arduino and Raspberry Pi about evenly, but I am starting to even use the Teensy boards more and more.
My concern is the same as above; at my local MicroCenter (Denver), they took out the video game area and replaced it with a DIY section. And as they put it in it was a very jumbled and disorganized area; everything tossed together, with packaging that was most likely meant for mail order which it made extremely hard to determine exactly what the components were. But after over a year, it really hasn’t improved. And, as mentioned before, I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked questions about items as I rummage through their shelves. The disorganization has actually caused me to sort of stay away from the store front and go the internet order method.
To go this route with MicroCenter, I am afraid you will have to package your items with more information on them (pegboard clam-packs?) to identify what they are and help organize them. But any more formal packaging you do just adds to the final cost of the product. I hope someone at Microcenter is truly looking at this opportunity as a way to become a big source for DIY shoppers. Right now I am not quite sure they understand the concept. It has been a year, and they still keep the Makerbot 3D printer displayed in front of standard computer printers instead of placing it with the other DIY items where it seems it would most be at home.
I will definitely be looking for your products at MicroCenter!
Here in Marietta Georgia the local Micro Center has recently “cleaned up” the DIY area versus a few months ago.
It’s awesome that I can find such a selection of boards, components, and kits, all at online prices! I’m lucky that I have two Fry’s in the Atlanta area, but honestly, Fry’s doesn’t have the selection that Micro Center has. I was literally BLOWN AWAY when I first dissevered that the “Gaming” department morphed into the Maker Shop!
It’s hard to leave a suggestion on what to do better. Definitely keep the aisles organized. Make sure you have all the cool parts and accessories. Keep the prices low / competitive with online. Make sure I can check inventory online. If you’ve got it local, I’ll pick it up there instead of waiting for the mail.
Very excited to hear to about the partnership. DIY is at a very exciting stage where interest continues to grow; as people renew and discover their passion for creating devices on their own.
I would like to thank everyone for their feedback about the DIY sections in our stores. You are absolutely correct that the merchandising, cleanliness, and training of the staff of the DIY areas is vitally important. Rest assured your feedback is very important to us, and we take all feedback seriously and we will take steps to ensure that our DIY departments are the best place for you to shop for all your DIY needs.
First of all I would make sure that the staff that handles the hobby electronics rows are knowledgeable. I have a horrible experience in my local Microcenter (NJ). The items almost piled up without any system to follow. That way very expensive parts becoming damaged.
It is exciting to see that they will carry full range of Adafruit products, but they have to commit to it. Otherwise it will hurt your brand more than will do good to it.
Good luck !
There are some Adafruit products at my Microcenter, but usually only Flora/Gemma, Trinket, and Arduino products. I would like to see more Adafruit official displays, Raspberry Pi products, NeoPixel sewables and rings, batteries, conductive thread… OH! and Thermoplastic!