Editor's Corner


Will Helio's Upscale Store Appeal To Target Market?
Denver is not usually considered a hotbed for wireless activity. In fact, the city often is one of the last to receive wireless network technology upgrades (hint: we're still waiting for HSDPA here). 

I was surprised when mobile virtual network operator Helio announced last year that one of the first stores in its retail roadmap was going to be located in Denver. I was even more surprised when I found out that the store was in the upscale, high-rent retail district of Cherry Creek North.  

You see, I frequent that area because it's just 10 minutes from my home and it's a great place to window shop and walk the dog. The area is packed with art galleries, nice restaurants, coffee shops, pricey boutiques, day spas and hair salons. But these types of stores typically appeal to the mid-30s and higher age group--and that's exactly the demographic group that I see when I visit the area. I don't see many teenagers or even early 20-somethings--the age group that I thought Helio was trying to attract to its service.

Nestled between a Bose store and the Crate & Barrel, the Helio store is striking with its sophisticated and minimalist décor. I visited the store the day prior to its grand opening so the walls were bare, but Helio spokeswoman Courtney Carlisle said that they would soon fill the space with artwork--much of which would come from local artists.

I questioned Carlisle on my doubts about the choice of the retail location. She quickly responded by saying that the mid-30 and higher demographic group may not be their target users for Helio, but this group has children and they often shop with their children. That may be true, but I feel like Helio would get a lot more traction with its demographic group if its store was situated next to an Urban Outfitters or Abercrombie & Fitch store.

Perhaps once the company's local advertising blitz hits, it will drive the right type of traffic to its posh location. While I commend the MVNO for its investment in retail stores, I'm just not sure that it hit the mark when it comes to location.  -Sue