Even Staples, the office supply store, can’t resist the lure of podcasts. The retailer is teaming up with iHeartRadio to build podcast studios at six of its stores in the Boston area.
The studios will be soundproof, have enough space for four people to record, and will sync with another company called Spreaker’s technology so people can get discounted access to its hosting and distribution services. A recording specialist will be on hand to help, too, and a 60-minute session costs $60. Although that fee only covers the actual recording time, Staples will give people discounts on editing services from We Edit Podcasts if they need help.
The studios are part of broader store renovations for what the company calls Staples Connect, which are stores designed to be co-working and community spaces for professionals, teachers, and students. The redesign speaks to the larger retail brand movement of making retail spaces more like community meeting spots. Apple’s former retail chief Angela Ahrendts famously called Apple stores “town squares” in 2017, for instance, and she predicted people would hang out in stores designed around this idea just as much as they would come in to buy something specific.
Target also experimented with a different kind of retail space in San Francisco, one where people could play with gadgets before buying them. Called Open House, the store functioned like a smart home, so people could better understand the technology. All of this is to say that it isn’t surprising to see Staples try to innovate on a traditional retail design. And building a podcast studio in-store does speak to the moment audio is having — it just seems odd to build studios for a trend that might eventually die.
Correction 2/19, 6:04PM ET: Corrected to say iHeartRadio is helping build the studios with Staples, not Spreaker. Spreaker is only providing the technology. We regret the error.