Aug 11, 2022 - Business

Below old Seattle Macy's, Amazon plans to test robots

A grey building with letters spelling "Macy's" displayed vertically on the building corner.

The Macy's (or Bon Marché) building, as seen on 3rd and Pine. Photo: Melissa Santos/Axios

Amazon wants to turn the basement of the former downtown Seattle Macy's building into a testing site for retail robots, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports in a fascinating scoop.

Why it matters: The plan would bring more changes to a building that was once the centerpiece of Seattle's retail core — and hints at Amazon's plans to expand further into brick-and-mortar retail.

What's happening: Filings with the city indicate that Amazon plans to launch a pilot called "Project Lucy" below the former Macy's building at 3rd Avenue and Pine Street, per the Business Journal.

  • Amazon already moved into the building's upper floors in 2017; the Macy's closed in 2020.

Details: As part of the planned test project, autonomous robots would grab storage pods containing shoes and clothing and bring them to in-person employees, who would select the specific items they need, the Business Journal explains.

  • Then the robots would take the pods back to storage.

What's next: It's unclear where, exactly, Amazon would deploy the robots, but they could play a role in the e-commerce giant's expansion of physical clothing stores.

  • The company recently opened its first Amazon Style storefront in Glendale, California, and has been hiring for other roles connected to its brick-and-mortar clothing operation, the Business Journal writes.

Flashback: The future Amazon robot headquarters will forever be the Bon Marché to me, even though it hasn't been called that for nearly two decades.

  • I can't walk by the building without the Bon's jingle version of Day-O running through my head. (Remember? Instead of, "Daylight come and we we want to to go home," it sang variations of, "One day only at the Bon Marché," to promote one-day sales.)

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