The former location of Blue C Sushi has become the center of intense speculation after the online news outlet, Shelf Awareness, reported Oct. 8 that Amazon may be opening a retail outlet in University Village.
The storefront in the southwest corner of the shopping center has fire retardant paper covering all of its windows, and U-Village management has been unusually secretive about the new tenant.
So far no official comment has been made by U-Village. Its management has not been reachable for comment, but many rumors have been flying around, speculating about which business may occupy the space.
Marie Riley, floor manager for Tommy Bahama, which lies kitty corner to the storefront, heard the store would be retail of some kind, but not a bookstore. She also said that all she knew was from word of mouth around the complex.
“Usually they put their signs up, saying ‘coming soon,’” Riley said. “This one they want to keep secret, for some unveiling or who knows?”
Justyna Kieko, an employee at Zovo Lingerie said U-Village management has promised to release the tenant’s name Nov. 1.
“I have a good feeling that [an Amazon store] is what it’s going to be,” Kieko said. “But we don’t know, they won’t tell us.”
Other employees around the complex cited rumors the storefront could become a Patagonia, or that a current tenant, possibly Williams-Sonoma or Restoration Hardware, may just be switching locations.
An electrical permit for the location found by GeekWire reporters list the owner of the location as Project Anne, which is not a known book retailer.
GeekWire has also released blueprints they uncovered from the Seattle planning department showing what appeared to be rows of bookshelves. And notes on the document show the store will include three different types of device charging outlets, indicating that if the store does belong to Amazon, it may showcase Amazon’s range of electronic devices.
Shelf Awareness reported the online retail giant had approached independent booksellers in the region about joining in on a new project, and had conducted interviews with at least one hire.
Micheal Coy, manager at Third Place Books in Seattle, said Amazon did send out a blanket email to workers in the book industry over LinkedIn, inviting people to apply for new positions. It didn’t mention anything about a new retail store, but those who have interviewed were asked to sign strict non-disclosure agreements.
Coy said he’s not too worried about an Amazon store affecting business at Third Place Books.
“I think our customers are very loyal,” Coy said. “And we were very successful when Barnes & Noble was in there.”
Seija Emerson, assistant manager in the book department of the University Book Store, said she would be surprised if Amazon does decide to sell books in U-Village, because books are such a small part of what Amazon now provides.
“But if it is just a bookstore selling cheap books, then it will definitely affect our sales,” Emerson said.
The Daily has reached out to Amazon for comment with no response.
Reach writer Johanna Lundahl at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @JohannaKat18