Raspberry Pi has opened an official retail store in the Grand Arcade, Cambridge.
The new store sells a wide range of Raspberry Pi boards, accessories, kits, and merchandise. More importantly, it has interactive product demonstrations and breakout areas for people to learn all about digital making with Raspberry Pi.
We visited the store for a special preview event, and it’s packed full of Raspberry Pi goodness.
At the store, we caught up with Gordon Hollingworth, Director of Software Engineering at Raspberry Pi - one of the people instrumental in designing the store - to ask why Raspberry Pi was opening a retail environment.
The idea is to “reach out” to customers interested in coding, making, and electronics, and introduce them to Raspberry Pi.
The concept is about trying to get closer to a less connected demographic, people who aren’t involved with technology, and show them that coding isn’t an inexplicable dark science reserved only for a few. Instead show them that it is possible, with the right instructions and an inquisitive nature, to learn about computers and coding.
Rather than just sell products, the vision is to “promote and display” the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi computer and ecosystem.
Inside the Raspberry Pi retail store
In the centre of the store are benches lined with Raspberry Pi computers. These are used for training and education. On the walls are six project booths, each demonstrating a different Raspberry project that people can make:
- Scratch GPIO control. Use Scratch to light up an LED.
- Get hands-on with coding. Use Python and buttons to control LEDs.
- Play with sensors. Use Python to control a Sense HAT.
- Make your home smarter. With a camera and distance sensor.
- Build an arcade machine. With a Picade console running PICO-8.
- Build an all-in-one multimedia centre. A Kodi setup displaying how to create a media centre with a Raspberry Pi.
The coding projects have a Raspberry Pi with a breadboard and components. Customers use a keyboard and mouse to control the project, and follow instructions on a small Raspberry Pi-controlled touchscreen to the side of the project.
The project booths are “really important,” says Gordon. And a lot of time has been spent to ensure the experience is just right.
I wanted them to be inviting and easy to navigate, I didn’t want a list of instructions printed on paper, so use the touchscreen in kiosk mode to display them.
The displays feature a big red button, which is used to reset the project back to the start. The instructions give an easy step-by-step guide to doing something really simple with Raspberry Pi.
The idea is to give the user some confidence in their ability to follow the instructions, maybe just turn on an LED using Scratch, which will lead them to get the starter kit with the Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide and take their interest further.
We think this is a great way to introduce newcomers to making with Raspberry Pi.
Shopping at the Raspberry Pi retail store
You might think that the Raspberry Pi store is just a showcase for Raspberry Pi products. But the store is packed, and we mean ‘packed’, with cool things to purchase.
Here are just some of the things we saw on display:
- Official Raspberry Pi Keyboard and Hub. This new high-quality keyboard uses a USB to USB C connector for the Pi, and provides three USB outputs. (Only available in the retail store.)
- Official Raspberry Pi Mouse. (Only available in the retail store.)
- Kits. Picade kits, CamJam robotic kits, Pimoroni starter kits, headphones, monitors.
- Equipment. Soldering irons, screwdrivers, multimeters.
- Merchandise. Official mugs, tote bags, and electronic component plushie toys (we love the LED and transistor cuddly toys).
- Magazines and books. You’ll find all the Raspberry Pi Press books and magazines, including the latest issue of your favourite The MagPi magazine (along with HackSpace, Wireframe, and our Projects Book and Essentials Guides).
Gordon hopes that the project booths and interactive displays will entice people into the store, and introduce them to Raspberry Pi, and they will then go on to become Raspberry Pi fans.
We’re hoping they’ll have a look at the product wall, maybe add an Energenie socket to control a light in the house, or a Pimoroni Blinkt, an Adafruit TFT screen, or simply buy another book. They might be interested in the magazines, books, or Essentials collection and want to sit on the sofas and have a chat with our staff.
The Raspberry Pi museum
At the end of the store is a “museum bar”. This glass table contains the first ever Raspberry Pi, a blue Brazilian Pi, red Chinese Pi boards, a rare copy of The MagPi #40 with free Pi Zero (“That’s mine so hands off,” says Gordon). Plus prototype models of Raspberry Pi boards and cases.
Behind the scenes of the store
The Raspberry Pi store has been gestating for “over six years,” Gordon tells us. But each year Gordon and Eben Upton, Raspberry Pi CEO and co-founder, “decided against it.”
Things changed when Maplin closed all its stores in 2018. “With the demise of Maplin, we decided there was the possibility of recruiting just the right person to launch the store for us.”
So are there plans for more Raspberry Pi stores, perhaps one in your local area? “Are you asking me to give you information about future product launches?” laughs Gordon. “You know what we say about those, right!” But of course the company is thinking about what comes next. “Who knows,” he tells us, “maybe there will be a Raspberry Pi store in every city.”
When we first started, I had a picture in my mind of how the store would look, and what people’s experience would be. The result is quite different, but only in the details; the experience is there and wonderful.
Where can I find the official Raspberry Pi store?
The Raspberry Pi store can be found in the Grand Arcade, Cambridge.
St Andrew’s Street
Cambridge CB2 3BJ
Raspberry Pi store opening hours
- Monday 09:00 - 18:00
- Tuesday 09:00 - 18:00
- Wednesday 09:00 - 20:00
- Thursday 09:00 - 18:00
- Friday 09:00 - 18:00
- Saturday 09:00 - 19:00
- Sunday 11:00 - 17:00
Getting to the Raspberry Pi retail store, Cambridge
You can travel to the Raspberry Pi store by car, bus, or bike.
- Car. There is a multi-storey car park adjoining the Grand Arcade (the car park postcode is CB2 3QF).
- Train/Bus. Catch the train to Cambridge Station, then get a bus to the City Centre (Citi 1, Citi 3, Citi 7).
- Bike. There is a 500-space free bicycle park next to Rutland Cycling on Corn Exchange Street.