By Colleen Kane
October 23, 2015

This month, Microsoft throws its hat into the flagship ring with a 22,000+ square foot store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan — a Windows counterpoint to the Apple Store glass cube, one of the most successful retail locations in the world, just a few blocks away.

A rendering of the first Microsoft flagship store, located on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Microsoft

Meanwhile, Tommy Hilfiger has begun offering virtual reality headset views of its runway shows at its biggest flagship stores. Such offerings have been dubbed “retailtainment,” or “merchantainment.”

The reason for both is the same: It doesn’t make a splash to simply open stores in suburban shopping malls and city centers, so companies are finding ways to embody their brand and lure in customers through immersive retail experiences. Notable successes include the original L.L. Bean, famously open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in Freeport, Maine, and the original Bass Pro Outdoor World in Springfield, Missouri, which features, among its many other attractions over 500,000 square feet, a live alligator pit.

When well executed, these superstores become tourist destinations. Witness The Yankee Candle Company’s South Deerfield location, which offers candlemaking, a Bavarian Christmas village with real falling snow, many holiday family events, and which may be Massachusetts’ second biggest tourist attraction.

And so: a look at recent ways some companies across different categories are working hard to distinguish themselves with unique retail experiences.

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