Amazon’s new store on Fourth Street won’t be a bookstore or Amazon Go convenience store, as rumored, but a new concept that offers top-selling products with high customer ratings from its website, as well as items that are new or are ‘trending’ in particular neighborhoods.
Signage went up this week for an Amazon 4-star store at 1785 Fourth St., the site that formerly held a Crate & Barrel outlet.
Amazon opened its first Amazon 4-star shop in the Soho area of New York City on Sept. 27. It was stocked with about 2,000 items that had received four stars (out of five) or more, according to various news reports. The prices on the items can change throughout the day as prices fluctuate on the website.
If it’s similar to the New York store, the Berkeley one will carry toys, kitchen gadgets and appliances, consumer electronics such as Amazon’s Alexa, books, and more. The New York store also has a “Most-Wished-For” section that displays products that people often put on their Amazon wish lists, according to CNN Money. Many of the products have ‘shelf-talkers’ that show customer reviews of a product.
“The selection of four-star–rated gadgets and trinkets is vast and dizzying,” Leticia Miranda, a BuzzFeed News reporter, wrote in an Oct. 1 review. “You can find everything from a 4.4-star–rated Amazon Basics power strip to a 4.4-star–rated baking soda container for a fridge called “Chilly-mama” to a 4.5-star–rated herb mincer fit to use in one hand, to a 3.8-star–rated cheese grater in the shape of an armadillo.
The store in New York had a regular price plus a lower price for Amazon Prime customers. “Customers who aren’t already Prime members can easily sign up for a free 30-day trial and instantly receive the Amazon.com price in store,” according to Amazon’s website.
The New York store has traditional check-out stands with cashiers, unlike Amazon’s convenience stores where electronic devices automatically scan and charge a customer’s credit card as they leave. However, the store is cashless, according to CNBC. Customers must pay with a credit card or the Amazon Prime app on their phone.
Amazon has not made a formal announcement that it is opening a retail store in Berkeley. In April, Berkeleyside broke the news that the store would be coming.
When Berkeleyside asked Amazon today about when the Fourth Street store would open, an Amazon spokesman emailed back “We are excited to be opening Amazon 4-star in Berkeley. Stay tuned for additional details down the road.” The spokesman asked not to be named.
Eric Muhlebach of Bond Retail and his family, who own the building, along with many other buildings on the east side of Fourth Steet between Virginia and Delaware, would not confirm in April that Amazon was moving in. But city building permits indicated that Amazon would occupy half of the building. Sephora cosmetics is moving into the other half of the building.
Some retailers on Fourth Street expressed concern about an Amazon store nearby.
“It’s just awful,” George Kiskaddon, the owner of Builders Booksource, which has been on Fourth Street since 1982, said in April. “Amazon — they are the evil empire. They do nothing for the community. They do nothing for the tax base. They have destroyed so many businesses, and the quality of life and everything else.”
Amazon made news on Tuesday when it announced that all its employees, from those working in the warehouses to those working at Whole Foods, an Amazon subsidiary, would soon be paid a minimum of $15 an hour. That news won’t impact Berkeley workers, however, as Berkeley’s minimum wage went up to $15 an hour on Oct. 1.