Company executives were on Capitol Hill Friday for the telecommunication giant’s unveiling of its glossy new retail experiment, The Lounge by AT&T.
Morgan Collins, vice president for AT&T’s Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and Hawaii markets, tells CHS the company took the risk of trying to launch the new retail concept in an area like Capitol Hill because the neighborhood is home to “creative innovators.”
“I want us to be part of the community,” she said.
Another AT&T rep on hand put it more succinctly. “We are meeting people where they are.”
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CHS reported earlier this week on the new E Thomas project just off Broadway in the newly constructed Vertex Apartments with a more social, technology-first approach to AT&T’s services and products centered around a new cafe from is new — and slightly smaller — Capitol Hill partners, Ada’s Discovery Cafe.
From the partnership, AT&T gains instant Hill credibility and someone to put together a quality coffee experience. Meanwhile, 15th Ave E-headquartered Ada’s gets a low-risk, high-reward opportunity to experiment with its tech bookstore brand and coffee offerings in a showcase setting in its home neighborhood. “It looks like us,” owner Danielle Hulton told CHS earlier this week. “It’s meant to be a hangout space.”
Friday, Danielle and husband and Ada’s partner David Hulton were futzing with their coffee robots while new Ada’s coffee dude 2018 US Barista Champion Cole McBride and cafe general manager Mars Maynard showed off behind the espresso bar for the assembled media and AT&T execs and managers in attendance to provide tours of their part of the new retail space.
While AT&T’s new Lounge is a softer approach to retail, the space is still full of the company’s presence. From the DirecTV showcasing television den area where you’ll need the Lounge app to tune in and listen to the programming, to the self-serve kiosk where you can activate your latest AT&T device, to the back wall where you can enter your PIN and access a locker with your latest AT&T purchase, there are lots of AT&T experiments at play. The space is also reportedly tricked out with super fast AT&T wireless service — “5G Evolution,” AT&T senior vice president Jeff Bradley said, proudly — and, though it wasn’t quite working yet, Bradley apologized, super fast AT&T-provide wireless internet is coming soon.
When it opens, “three to five” AT&T employees, including one behind the scenes working on “product fulfillment” for the Lounge’s locker system, will join the Ada’s crew in the new E Thomas shop. The first day of business is planned for Wednesday, September 26th.
Ada’s Discovery Cafe and The Lounge by AT&T is located at 800 E Thomas. You can learn more at discovery.adasbooks.com.