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ST. PAUL-Eq-life, a health-oriented store developed by Richfield, MN-based Best Buy Co. that combines laptops, MP3 players, exercise equipment and vitamins with a drug store, spa salon and coffee bar, will open a new 20,000-sf store on the southwest corner of Victoria and Grand avenues.

Though the company has not disclosed details, the opening of a second store indicates a possibility that the concept is catching on. Eq life, whose name combines the words “equilibrium” and “lifestyle”–will be the second in Minnesota. The first opened earlier this year at Southdale Square in the company’s hometown of Richfield.

The concept to integrate health, wellness, and technology was the brainchild of eq-life’s president Mike Marolt, a 19-year veteran of Best Buy. Marolt, with the help of a friend’s father who had been diagnosed with Cancer, found that many wanted to use digital devices to improve their health, whether they were sick or simply stressed out.

Best Buy’s retail and technology expertise, combined with the health and wellness expertise of Park Nicollet Health Services and PrairieStone Pharmacy, allows customers to fill a prescription, attend a Yoga or Pilates class, and check out the latest heart monitors, MP3 players, exercise equipment or other health-related devices—all under one roof. The store also has its own nurses and dietitians for customers to consult with, and offers spa services including facials, messages and manicures.

The target market for the new concept is said to be woman between 45- and 65-years-old, a demographic that the gadget-heavy Best Buy store is unable to attract. According to industry observers, baby-boomers lead every age group in spending and are increasingly more health conscious as they age.

Best Buy isn’t the first to target this age group. Retail trendsetter Chico’s recently boasted Q1 revenues of $47.2 million, up from $35.6 million, thanks to the addition of White House/Black Market concept stores. Also, Gap Inc. announced late last month that it was going to open a new store geared at older shoppers.

But Best Buy’s concept reach does not end there. Veering away from the big-box approach led by Wal-Mart and Target, Best Buy has taken a challenging approach to reaching new consumers by moving into the boutique market with Studio D and Escape.

Studio D’s non-aggressive atmosphere is targeted to 35- to 45-year-olds who are looking for technological instruction. Its test store in Naperville, IL offers workshops, occasionally free of charge, that actually teach the customer how to use new technology, including classes digital photography and video. Escape, based in Lincoln Park in Chicago, is designed like a trendy, urban club/lounge and offers Best Buy’s top-tier products.

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