Will Amazon really go retail?February 6, 2012: 4:56 PM ET
A blogger cites unnamed sources in claiming that Amazon is close to opening a pilot store in Seattle within months.
FORTUNE -- Is it possible that Amazon's stock sank today partly -- or even mostly -- because of an unconfirmed report on a blog devoted to e-readers that the company plans to open a pilot retail store in Seattle?
It is, in fact, possible, though of course we can't know for sure. A bunch of big media outlets picked up the report from the blog Good e-Reader. In it, editor Michael Kozlowski cited "sources close to the situation." Amazon (AMZN) hasn't responded to messages seeking comment.
Kozlowski wrote that Amazon will "be going the boutique route and stocking the shelves with only high margin and high-end items," according to his "source," (singular this time.)
Such rumors have floated periodically for a few years now. In December, blogger Jason Calacanis relayed a "piece of gossip" he heard from "a very credible source" along similar lines, though his rumor has it that the plan was for "big, Costco-like stores." In 2009, Amazon was forced to issue denials of similar rumors.
Especially given that such rumors are far from new, the breathless reaction to the latest one seems misplaced. All we're talking about here is Amazon possibly testing the concept of an Amazon-branded store. It might work -- similar to how Apple's (AAPL) stores have worked -- or it might not. If not, it won't be a great loss. If so, it seems unlikely that Amazon will take it as a cue to go after Barnes & Noble (BKS), Wal-Mart (WMT), and Costco (COST) and start buying huge swaths of suburban real estate to compete with them on their own literal turf.