Retail Refugees

Tesla Retail
July 13, 2010, 12:02 pm
Filed under: Stores | Tags: , , ,

Tesla, the über cool electric car company, has hired Apple´s former retail guru to design their new showrooms.

Fast Company explains… Lucky for Tesla, then, that it snagged George Blankenship as its vice president of design and store development. Blankenship previously spent nine years working with Apple to amp up its retail strategy. Before that, he opened hundreds of stores each year for the GAP.

Blankenship is charged with helping Tesla expand from its network of 13 showrooms to 20 by the end of the year–and even more beyond that. While Blankenship has never before worked in the auto industry, he sees lots of similarities between his work in clothing and computing and his current position at Tesla. “This is about technology, innovation, and a great pipeline of products that need to be explained to the customer,” he tells “It’s just like when I was at Apple.”

The retail guru wants to do the same thing for Tesla. Whereas traditional auto dealerships are often in mammoth buildings that are set apart from retail districts, Blankenship hopes to put Tesla showrooms right in the thick of popular shopping locations.

But Tesla has a unique challenge: While consumers weren’t that excited about Apple when Blankenship came on board, Tesla practically has more hype than it can handle. The challenge is to make potential customers understand what Tesla is about. And that requires a comprehensive customer experience strategy.

“We want to figure out the best, most comfortable way to create an environment where people aren’t just looking at the car–they see how it’s part of their future,” Blankenship says. It won’t be easy.


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