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Meta to Open Retail Store to Showcase Virtual Reality Hardware

(Bloomberg) -- Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc. is opening its first ever retail store in California, hoping to introduce people to virtual reality worlds with a try-before-you-buy approach.

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The Meta Store will open May 9 in Burlingame, California, and showcase the company’s hardware products. Visitors are encouraged to “interact with everything” including the Portal video calling hub, Quest 2 virtual reality goggles and Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses.

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Tech firms have regularly set up -- then shut down -- physical shops. In 2020, Microsoft Corp. said it would shut down its store locations permanently but continue to invest in online sales. In March Amazon.com Inc. said it would close its physical bookstores, “Amazon 4-Star” locations and mall pop-up kiosks as the world’s largest online retailer narrows its brick-and-mortar push to the grocery sector.

“The best way to understand virtual reality is to experience it,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said as part of the announcement. Meta previously tested this through pop-up shops in various locations. The company declined to share any plans for future stores.

Over the past year, the social media company has increasingly focused on the metaverse -- a future version of the internet made up of immersive worlds accessible via headsets -- which Zuckerberg thinks is the next major computing revolution after mobile phones. The company changed its name from Facebook to Meta in October to underscore the dedication to its investment.

Meta has explored partnering with EssilorLuxottica SA, the world’s biggest eyewear company, to sell its headgear. The two firms teamed up to produce Ray-Ban Stories smartglasses, which were sold in some of the Franco-Italian company’s 8,000 retail outlets globally.

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