LittleBits, an online store dedicated to allowing people and businesses to prototype electronics simply by snapping together pieces like Lego bits, is opening its first retail store for a limited run.
The store will open July 31 in the SoHo section of New York City, with a formal opening scheduled for Aug. 6. It is scheduled to run through the end of the holiday season this year.
"We want littleBits to be in every home, every school, every creative space," said littleBits CEO Ayah Bdeir. "But for us the littleBits Store is about getting closer to our customers individually, fostering a local community of inventors and imagining a world where products and experiences are not parachuted onto you from technology companies, but you are inventing them yourself."
The retail store is being designed by Montreal-based company Daily Tous le Jours, (DTLJ), which is known for its role in creating large-scale participatory experiences. It's not known exactly what the littleBits store will end up looking like.
It seems as though the buying experience might be a little different as well. Users will be able to walk into the store and test the different pieces - modular open-source electronic blocks that snap together like Lego bricks so they all work together - then they will can either buy what they created or leave their creation for someone else to play around with. There will also be a photo booth at the store.
"littleBits is one of the most inspiring electronics products: it is changing the way we live with technology, demystifying it and befriending it," said DTLJ co-founders Melissa Mongiat and Mouna Andraos. "It is an honor to design their first store and contribute to the revolution that littleBits is enabling. The littleBits Store is a place for experimentation and collective invention, where anyone feels empowered by technology and compelled to tell their own stories with it."
LittleBits launched in 2011, geared toward young people as a way to teach them how to build their own electronics. It makes hardware more assessible as customers design with sensors and motors they put together themselves. It is big in schools - this year, schools made up 35 percent of sales, according to the Forbes story, up from 10 percent the year before.
Last month the company raised a huge $44 million in a second round of funding from DFJ Growth and others, helping it push its prototyping tools beyond individuals and to businesses. In fact, littleBits was originally only looking to raise $30 million. The company has reportedly grown between three and four times per year since it was started in 2011.
If this trend continues, it is likely that the store will be a sign of more to come, and we might soon see a more permanent retail solution from littleBits. The company's products are available online at littleBits.cc and with other retailers, such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Marbles.