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Sam Goody Enters Digital/Wireless Age

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Musicland Group, the parent company of the Sam Goody retail stores, has made a significant entrance into the digital technology and wireless categories. Named Graze, the brand invites youth to experience digital products and content in a non-traditional retail environment. Graze will be featured in Musicland's Sam Goody retail stores and as a stand-alone kiosk in select malls.

"Musicland is reinventing itself as an entertainment lifestyle destination while celebrating our music heritage," Musicland's CEO Jack Chadsey said. "Graze is more than a physical location extending into the digital space; it will evolve into a youth-inspired way of thinking, doing and living that captures the vibe of a generation."

Graze stores throughout the Philadelphia area with flagship prototypes in Deptford, NJ and Mall of America, in Bloomington, MN offers a unique gathering place that encourages community and engages all five senses through interactive table displays, directional sound, a see-through video wall and scent machines. Lounge guests hear various environmental sounds; have their sense of smell awakened by pleasant aromas, such as chocolate; and watch the latest concert on the see-through video wall all while experimenting with the latest digital products. In addition to the flagship prototype, Graze versions have been created to fit in the various sizes of Sam Goody stores.

Customers can experience the latest digital wireless devices including pre-and post-paid phones, MP3 players, portable video games and digital cameras in an environment that encourages product exploration and interaction with others. Graze visitors also can access the latest mobile content, such as ringtones, wallpaper and games; burn customized CDs; and, in the near future, create digital images to share within the Graze community.

"Today's in-store shopping experience for wireless devices and services is un-inspiring," said Adam Zawel, director, Wireless/Mobile United States for Yankee Group. "Freeing devices from their cables, and giving customers a place to sit is a good start — and Graze moves on from there — tying content, devices and atmosphere."

As mobile and digital technologies continue to converge with the entertainment arena, Musicland will evolve Graze to ensure cutting-edge product offerings and a fresh shopping experience. The products Graze offers promote Sam Goody's customer's need for self expression, and the company feels the Graze brand will reach outside of the four walls of a retail store, evolving from a shopping experience into a culture.

Last month, Cingular and Musicland announced a strategic alliance to pilot new approaches to retailing digital wireless devices, such as phones to download music and share pictures, as well as MP3 players, digital cameras, broadband, consumer electronics and fashion. Cingular will be the exclusive post-paid wireless provider for this new initiative.

The company also is reinventing existing categories, including posters and t-shirts, which are connected to the entertainment lifestyle. Both initiatives fall within the company's on-demand strategy – offering consumers more choice and control of their shopping experience.

To enhance its poster offering, Musicland created a proprietary system named "Off the Wall," where customers access thousands of posters and art images from kiosks and can print in the store. The quality of paper and image resolution is many times greater than what is available today. These will be featured initially at the Deptford Mall and Mall of America locations.

"Consumer choice today is constrained by time, space and physical distribution," Musicland Senior Vice President of Corporate Development Robert Willey said. "Our on-demand strategy accelerates time to market by expanding the assortment through a digital library."

For custom t-shirt design, the company has partnered with Vancouver-based Bang On T-Shirts to deliver on-demand apparel. From old school to cutting edge, Bang On designs express the love of fashion, pop culture and music.

"What Starbucks is to coffee, Graze and on demand will be to the entertainment lifestyle," Willey added. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen