On Broadway, A Geeked-Out Storefront

wired storeJenn Pelly The new Wired store at Broadway and East Fourth Street offers a range of gifts for the geek in your life. Below: QR code artwork traces ancestry via DNA strands, a Wampa rug and a USB typewriter.
wired store
wired store
wired storeJenn Pelly

‘Tis the season to geek out hard — at 692 Broadway, at least. Currently home to Wired magazine’s sixth annual pop-up store, the space will be granting holiday wishes of hardcore technophiles and plugged-in teens alike through Dec. 26.

The three-story location, formerly Tower Records until 2006, is an 8,000-square-foot techie mecca, coined by Wired as an “experiential gallery.” Entering feels like stepping out of a time machine into year 2050. As The Local took a spin through on Friday, shoppers — namely thirtysomething males dressed in black with sleek haircuts — tested a dynamic array of cutting-edge gadgets, from Smartphones and flat-screen televisions to a futuristic tennis table. The Wired lifestyle’s glossy pages came to life, its pulse kept by a looming, minimal techno beat.

With over 200 Wired-curated products on display, this year’s holiday outpost is the magazine’s biggest and “most centrally located” to date, according to senior editor Jason Tanz. “It’s a sign of how much faith we have in tech culture,” Mr. Tanz told The Local on Friday. “We view it as a central part of life in New York. Downtown is clearly the cultural hub of New York, and technology is becoming a larger and larger part of that.” Previously in SoHo and the Meatpacking District, the shop’s in-store events will include “GeekDad” family days, wine tastings, and musical events: DJ Nomi Ruiz and Gordon Voidwell on Dec. 1, Ra Ra Riot on Dec. 8, and Tokyo Police Club on Dec. 15. (RSVP required.)

Mr. Tanz likes the store’s Antique USB Typewriter ($499-699), and the “Star Wars” Lego chess set — “People who have no interest in ‘Stars Wars’ have to admit it’s pretty cool,” he said — but topping his wishlist is a set of sleek, wooded Davone Ray speakers ($5,995).

Along with typical holiday gifts, like Andrew Marc jackets ($695-795) and a variety of watches ($350-$4,000), come the more mind-blowing. For example, the GoalO Scout 150 Explorer Kit ($399.95), a portable alternative energy carrier equipped with a battery hub and fold-up solar panel. Or a DNA 11 Ancestry Portrait (from $440), a customized art canvas with mind-reading power. The work’s scannable, embedded QR code uses personalized DNA samples to read the customer’s genetic lineage, shooting thousands of years of maternal ancestry from living room wall to smartphone screen. And there is, of course, the unabashedly nerdy: a “Star Wars” bearskin-style Wampa Rug ($99.99), and a laptop case that resembles a My Documents desktop folder ($30).

A number of urban street cruisers and home accessories embodied a particular air of East Village cool: a Dahon Tournado bicycle ($2,299), with “frame geometry” providing “a superbly balanced, supple ride,” and a Knife & Saw Bike Shelf ($300), “useful for all bike riding city dwellers.” A collection of ‘60s-style longboards ($325 each) made by a Brooklyn furniture designer with recycled wood trimmings were also for sale. The coolly designed Urbancase Emergency Cocktail Station ($850) subtly camouflages liquor and drink essentials, and each speaker-frame in the Rebaroque Sound Frame series uses recycled materials to transmit your smart-device’s tunes from wall to room.

wired storeJenn Pelly A set of wooded Davone Ray speakers. Pricetag: $5,995.

You can’t, however, leave the store with the futuristic gadgets and gizmos in hand. Rather, the “checkout station” is a bar of laptop computers, where customers place orders online. A collection of limited edition Wired swag (t-shirts, bags, buttons, iPad cases) is for sale on location.

Mr. Tanz agrees that the store’s expansion indicates a peaking appreciation for a voguish geek culture. “That’s been true throughout the magazine’s history, and it’s getting bigger and bigger,” Mr. Tanz said, explaining the store “absolutely” embodies the magazine’s frequent “triumph of the geeks” theme. “Who would have thought, in the mid-’70s, that this block of prime downtown real estate would be decked out with gadgets and Star Wars rugs?” Mr. Tanz joked. “But it’s really just a forward-thinking mentality.”

If the Wired store is technophilia’s F.A.O. Schwarz, the Midtown toy haven’s famous life-sized keyboard takes more mature and abstract forms at 692 Broadway. A massive, overhead musical sculpture, “Sympathic Resonance” by Joshua Kirsch, hangs from the ceiling, one of the sleek gallery’s three interactive art installations. Resembling a xylophone, the piece’s sound is controlled by viewers with a touch-sensitive keyboard.

Mr. Tanz likens the ideology of the store to that of the magazine — a social space dedicated to, above all, enjoying discovery and invention. “You could spent hours here, just playing with stuff,” Mr. Tanz said. “Even if you don’t buy anything.”

The Wired holiday pop-up store is located at 692 Broadway at East Fourth Street. Open until Dec. 26 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. All products available online here. Keep up with the Wired store on Twitter (@WIREDInsider) using the hashtag #WIREDStore. Questions? Call 866-393-8054.