Retail Inception: Are Stores-Within-Stores More Convenient?

When’s the last time you visited a Kohl’s? For me, it was this past week, and I noticed something about the store I’d never seen before while picking up a gift for my dad’s birthday.

Cue the angels singing… NOW!

Lo and behold: what stood in front of me but three aisles of Hallmark greeting cards. I gasped and started looking at the “His Birthday” section for a card (Side note: I love him, but I really hate that his birthday is 2 weeks after Christmas. I’m not yet ready to hit the stores again in search of that “perfect” gift. I just never learn to buy his birthday gift while I’m Christmas shopping).

So, thanks to Kohl’s, not only did I find the perfect gift (a man can never have too many sweaters) but I crossed another errand off my list. I’m usually a Target girl for cards, but the selection in the Hallmark section of Kohl’s was perfect. I had several choices to choose from, but not too many where I felt overwhelmed. Just like the movie “Inception” blew my mind, so did this store-within-a-store concept. I’ll be remembering this store combo forever!

This isn’t a new concept, though… we’ve all seen a store that includes a miniaturized store inside of another store. Can’t think of any? Well, let’s take a look at these retail realities:

Apple is right on Target

No, the other “apple”!

Technology giant Apple announced they would be testing out their stores within 25 Targets nationwide. For those who may be a bit confused, Target does already sell iPods and iPads within their stores but not their Mac computers. It’s still too early to know if Apple will sell their Macs there, but if nothing else it provides Target another competitive advantage against Wal-Mart or Amazon.

Friday Night’s outfit, from Lipstick to Shoes

Since October 2006, make-up lovers have been delighting over Sephora being inside select JCPenney locations. Even though these stores are smaller (only 1,500 square feet), they still pack quite a punch. This is such a great situation; women can now shop around for a new outfit to wear on a date (including a new purse) and pick up some new lipstick or a fun new nail polish color. One-stop shopping couldn’t be any easier!

Chips and a Checking Account

Steak? Potatoes? New Checking Account? Check, check, check!

Walk into a Dominick’s or a Jewel and you’ll come face to face with the ultimate convenience. A bank within walking distance to dinner: what a concept! Open a checking account at Chase while you’re grabbing snacks for the big game this weekend. Or, apply for a loan with TCF and grab a bottle of Merlot all within one errand. Perfect!

Best Buy’s Best Move

Many Best Buy stores have miniature stores right inside them like Verizon, Magnolia Home Theater, and Apple, just to name a few. This makes it easier for customers to comparison shop right there in Best Buy instead of leaving to visit an Apple or Verizon store location and never coming back to Best Buy. As someone who hates comparison shopping, this concept is a Godsend!

As I’m sure you’ve picked up, I love this idea of creating a store-within-a-store since it cuts down on the number of errands I have to run and it’s just plain convenient. If I can go into two stores and accomplish the work of doing 4 or 5 errands, then why wouldn’t I? Plus, both stores and brands are seeing an increase of traffic and revenue as a result. A sort of ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ type of marketing and partnership. Who wouldn’t love that?

Can you think of any other stores that have miniature stores within them? Do you like the idea? What’s your favorite combination? Sound off below!

Image credit to Schjelderup.

Amy Hoidas

Amy is one of Quality Logo Products’ Community Manager. She is a self-professed newspaper nerd and thoroughly enjoys reading business and financial news and having impromptu discussions about it. Oh yeah, she’s “one of those” people! A true Midwestern girl by nature, she loves riding her bike, photography, and the Chicago Cubs. You can also connect with Amy on


  1. Eric

    No man from Chicago can EVER have enough sweaters. Collectively, or simply worn all at once. At least not this week!

    This is an interesting concept, though. My upgrade/contract renewal for my AT&T mobile came up this past weekend. I planned on going to the AT&T store. My folks told me, instead, Target’s got some sort of partnership with Radio Shack when it comes to their electronic department, and, as part of that, you can take care of your mobile phone business there. They’d Verizon, Sprint, AT&T…smart move, really, to get the customers you’d have from all those brands and give them universal service. In other news, yes, I actually own a something from the 21st century, now (no iPod, still).

    Makes sense Apple would join in on the fun, given they already sell all their iPod models at Target stores. Toss in a few computers? BAM! Apple store.

    Neat post, Amy!


    …don’t even get me started.

    • amy

      Welcome to the 21st century 😉

      Thanks for the awesome comment, Eric! I had totally forgotten about Target having the major cell phone service providers in their locations. I recently went in one and had one of their sales people ask me how I liked my current phone. I felt a little bit bad for smiling, saying “fine”, and walking away. I don’t like pushy sales people at all. Ugh.

      Part of me kinda wants to get you started on an EPIC sounding “Inception” rant… is that cruel?

      • Eric

        Thanks! Man, was I missing out on something without “Angry Birds” in my life. That alone was worth the smartphone.

        Must depend upon the experience. My family all went to Target for their contract renewals and upgrades, so now that we know the guy, he’s pretty good on knowing we’re not crazy for upsells. They still have to ask, but – to me, at least – not nearly as much pressure as the phone company store puts on you.

        As far as “Inception” goes, I’ll keep it brief: nothing irritates me more than a deliberarte cliffhanger of an ending. At least with “The Prestige,” we discovered the entire film was a magic trick, and even structured like one. It gave everything to come before it added meaning, and we wanted to watch it again to find the hints. “Inception” just made me never to watch the damn film again. Oh, well. At least he’s back to making another Batman flick.

        • amy

          I think it matters too if you’re in the market to renew or upgrade, at this time I’m not so they bug me a bit more than if i was ready to sign a new contract haha.

          YES! I was right!! It is an EPIC “Inception” rant!!! 😉 hahahahaha I could see that bugging people, never thought of it like that before. I personally just love that “Inception” is my ranking system for whether a movie is a thinking movie or not. “Oh, [insert movie title here] sounds really good. Is it a thinking movie like ‘Inception’ or just fluff?” Pathetic, yet effective!

  2. Mandy Kilinskis

    Walgreens has Hallmark cards in their stores, too! It was a really nice surprise this Christmas when I popped in to buy some eye care supplies but still needed to grab some holiday cards. It was so nice that I didn’t have to make a million trips.

    I’m a big fan of stores-within-stores. It’s gotta be why Target is starting the initiative that they will let smaller brands into their store for 6 weeks at a time. Awesome!

    • amy

      I’m all for crossing things off my list and saving time (and gas!!) by shopping at stores that have stores within them. I’m a major fan of this concept 😉

      I can’t wait to check out the smaller brands within Target, it sounds really interesting!!

  3. Rachel

    Hahaha, love the spinning top image. 🙂 I love it when stores combine, since it’s just so much more convenient for the consumer. Seems like a win-win for the customers AND the companies. Fun post, Amy!

    • amy

      Thanks Rachel! Convenience goes a long way with my loyalty towards a store, make it more convenient and I’ll be a “lifer”. But, make me jump through twenty-seven hoops and I’ll just walk away frustrated, never to return again. Glad I’m not the only one who feels this same way 🙂

  4. Jill Tooley

    My local Jewel has a TCF Bank in it, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any customers approach the counter while I’ve been there. It’s usually a bunch of tellers or personal bankers standing around and looking at their computers (probably trying to look super busy). So, in that case, I’d have to say they’re not that effective. Although, I could just be going during off-times! 😉

    Otherwise, stores-within-stores have immense potential. The cell phone counters at Best Buy are always packed. The Apple sections of bigger stores don’t even allow for movement half of the time. That’s a good sign!

    I can’t say whether I find “retail inception” a more convenient thing or an annoyance, because I’ve never really used any of them for anything. Well, except for coffee shops inside of stores like Target — those are awesome.

    When I worked at a movie theater, the owner rented one of the vacant spaces (originally supposed to be an extra party room) to a local travel agency. It worked out really well for them, although you wouldn’t think to put the two businesses together. 🙂

    • amy

      The Jewel by my house has a bank in it as well (the fact that I don’t know which one is probably a sign of how effective they are for me). A few times I’ve seen customers sitting at one of the desks with a teller or personal banker, but it’s not all that often. Maybe with online banking becoming so popular that could be a reason for their apparent “slowness”.

      I would’ve never thought of a travel agency inside a movie theater would work. But, there have been times after watching a movie based somewhere (usually Boston or Georgia for some reason) that I get a sudden urge to go visit. Why not build on that impulsive feeling by booking a trip as you walk past the concession counter to get to your car? I don’t know if the owner was a marketing genius or just had really good luck with that pairing 😉

      • amal rakeshi

        Where would you suggest a travel agency to have a store-in-store (other than a movie theate)
        Do you think that having a travel agency at a Samsonite store would work?

    • Halcyon

      I don’t care if there’s a bank inside the Jewel. What is annoying is the bank employees roaming the aisles soliciting for business. I don’t know why the store would approve of that. I know they’ve lost business over it, and if it happens to me again I will switch to Dominick’s, which is right up the street. Jewel has better prices, but it’s SO annoying to be hassled when you’re just trying to buy groceries.

      • amy

        Thanks for reading, Halycon!

        Having a bank employee follow you around the store to pressure you to open up a savings account or set up a retirement fund while you’re buying tonight’s dinner would be beyond annoying! I’m with you and I’m surprised Jewel would allow that. Glad mine doesn’t do that or I’d be switching back to Dominick’s too!

  5. Andrea

    You are amazing, and you just blew my mind. Seriously.

    • amy

      Awww, thanks Andrea 😀 It’s comments like that, that really keep me going. I’m glad you liked it!! Thanks for stopping by and commenting too, much appreciated!!

  6. Jeff Porretto

    We must go deeper!! We need stores within stores within stores! What if in the Apple store, that’s in the Best Buy, there was a place to… I don’t know… do your taxes?! And in each store, the same music plays slower and slower?! LOL I could do this forever 🙂

    • amy

      I think you’re onto something here, Jeff!! Sounds like an excellent idea to me, could we add a Cinnabon or something inside the Apple store inside the Best Buy? I’d be all for that!! 😀

  7. Jen

    I love that Walmart has a Subway. Sometimes after work I stop to get something for lunch the next day or pick up odds and ends, and I can also get a sandwich for dinner that night. One stop shopping for sure. It’s a totally awesome concept, especially if I’m tired or crabby from a long day in the office and don’t want to go store hopping.

    I also like the Sephora in JC Penny. I don’t buy too much makeup there, but I love just smelling the different perfumes they have! It’s a great move for the stores to combine.

    Great post Amy, super cool stuff here!

    • amy

      The Walmart near my grandparent’s house has a Subway in it that always smell delicious when I walk in. Definitely some neuromarketing going on there too 😉

      The JC Penney closest to me has a Sephora in it, but truth be told, I’m a bit intimidated to go in and take a look. The Sephora “store” is small so I’m fairly confident that I’d knock over some bottle of perfume or an entire display. I’ll just stick with Ulta LOL.

  8. Joseph Giorgi

    Honestly, I’ve never set foot inside an Apple store. It’s just one of those things I haven’t gotten around to. 1) Because there aren’t any near my apartment, and 2) because I couldn’t afford anything there anyway. So I’m kinda hoping that my local Target will feature one soon. That’ll finally give me an excuse to see what all the fuss is about while I’m doing my regular shopping.

    Great post, Amy!

    • amy

      I finally went into my first Apple store this past summer, and it was fun and exciting. I wouldn’t need to go into another one anytime soon, but it did eat up some time while we waited for a table at the restaurant next door 🙂

      I’m sure Apple will see an increase in revenue from branching out into Targets, but I do wonder if their in store sales will decrease or not? I guess going to an Apple store could still be a destination while Target could just be for convenience. Hmmm, time will tell I guess.

      Thanks Joe!

  9. Candice J.

    I’m a huge fan of stores within stores. Being a single mom, the more things i can get accomplished in one place the better! Bank & a grocery store, SCORE! A Target AND a Apple Store, DOUBLE SCORE! I can make two stops and get my food and money for the week, and get my daughter some diapers, new clothes, random items, AND finally get that IPad I wanted. This is a concept that is right up my alley!

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