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Verizon unveils 'smart store' makeovers

FARGO - Verizon Wireless is revamping its more than 1,700 stores nationwide into "smart stores" aimed at helping consumers get more bang from their mobile devices.

FARGO - Verizon Wireless is revamping its more than 1,700 stores nationwide into "smart stores" aimed at helping consumers get more bang from their mobile devices.

A crown jewel of the plan is a 9,715-square-foot store in the Mall of America, one of eight "destination" stores the company is setting up in major shopping areas around the country.

While destination stores will have bigger footprints, all of Verizon's stores nationwide will adopt the company's new concept of creating spaces where customers can learn the capabilities of wireless devices, said Seamus Hyland, president for Verizon's Great Plains region.

Fargo has two Verizon Wireless stores in Fargo and one in Grand Forks.

All three will get makeovers in the next few years, said Hyland, who added that the stores will be patterned on the same concept as the new Mall of America store, just on a smaller scale.

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He said all stores will feature "zones" where customers can have devices and features demonstrated and get a hands-on experience of how such devices may fit into their daily lives.

In the fitness zone, for example, people can see how mobile devices can enhance, optimize and evaluate their physical workouts.

Another zone explores how wireless devices can monitor homes and manage energy controls.

"The reasons we created these zones is that customers are not just walking in our doors for handsets anymore," Hyland said.

"They're walking in the door for these solutions ... these wireless devices that are adding value to life and contributing to that mobile lifestyle," he said.

Verizon Wireless announced Tuesday it will transform its more than 1,700 stores in the United States into "smart stores" offering customers opportunities to learn the full capabilities of all their wireless mobile devices, not just phones.

The company also plans eight "destination" stores, including one in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., that will be showcases for the company's new emphasis on education.

Some facts about the new Mall of America store:

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• The current Mall of America store, which closed Tuesday, was 1,374 square feet.

• The new store, which opens today in a different location in the mall, will have 9,715 square feet.

• The number of employees at the old store was 12. The number of employees at the new store is 71.

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