The Raspberry Pi Foundation, a U.K.-based charity that makes low-cost, credit card-sized computers, opened its first brick-and-mortar store in what it described as an "experiential space," in Cambridge, U.K., according to a Raspberry Pi press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The new store allows visitors to learn how to program the small computers. It also offers existing Raspberry Pi products, as well as a new "Everything you need to get started with Raspberry Pi" kit that includes the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, peripherals and other support for beginner-level programmers.
Until now, Raspberry Pi's products and accessories have been available primarily online through resellers like Micro Center, Adafruit Industries, CanaKit and others, as well as Amazon.
Experiential stores are no longer just for the biggest names in retail. In recent years, the sector has witnessed Apple's expansion of stores designed as gathering places that offer a wide array of programs that focus on consumer education and enrichment as much as making a sale. Direct-to-consumer online brands, such as Casper, also have seen their brick-and-mortar strategies as opportunities to educate consumers.
A store model that emphasizes customer engagement and education may fit well with Raspberry Pi's approach to democratizing the availability of PCs to all income levels by empowering their customers via technology. As Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton said in a statement, the company is trying to "make low-cost PCs accessible to everyone."
Offering experiences — like programming tutorials — may help the Raspberry Pi store stand out both from the company's resellers and from traditional consumer electronics stores. Ultimately, it should also help more consumers become enthused about the brand, regardless of where they end up buying one of the company's devices, which should serve Raspberry Pi's mission.