'B8ta' Brings Hands-on Tech To Hayes Valley

Hayes Valley's latest retail addition, B8ta, is now open in the mixed-use development at 590 Hayes Street (and Laguna). Working with small hardware manufacturers, the shop allows customers to try connected devices that are normally only sold online. 

The Bay Area is a hotspot for hardware startups, and half of the 120 products in the store are local, with 10 to 15 new products added each month. It also hosts same-day launches for some products as they are released online.

Most of the products are in stock, so customers can leave with gadgets the same day. 

Customers can preview demos on iPads; most products are in stock.

Although B8ta is headquartered in San Francisco, this is the company's first retail location in the city. It has six other locations, including shops in Palo Alto and Corte Madera.

CEO Vibhu Norby said the company chose Hayes Valley for its first San Francisco location because it's one of his favorite neighborhoods for shopping and food; it also has easy access to transportation and the highway.

"[The location is] once in a lifetime," Norby told us. "Being next to Salt and Straw is great, too."

CEO Vibhu Norby (center) with Kevin Chu and Robin Murphy. 

The move to Hayes Valley was also strategic. Because of the formula retail ban in the neighborhood, B8ta needed to open in Hayes Valley before opening more locations. The company expects to attract about 10,000 customers a month to the new location. 

Vibhu's inspiration for B8ta came from his frustration with ordering items online, only to find out that they didn't work for him. The space is also meant to help manufacturers which find big box stores cost prohibitive, giving them a physical space to connect to consumers.

"This will be a hub for the hardware industry," he said.

B8ta employee Kevin Chu answers questions from customers.

The Hayes Valley location will have makers stopping by every day to give demos and talk about their products. In addition to VR and audio experience rooms, the store also has a connected kitchen section. The staff is versed in the products and can answer any technical questions.

"I think it's cool I can say that I try products and the designer or founder taught me how to use them," said employee Robin Murphy. 

The opening has not been without hiccups; the day we stopped by, the store had been robbed that morning, and staffers were making security upgrades.

"What's funny is we are probably the worst store to rob due to all our sensors, so we knew right away when it happened, but It will not happen again." said Vibhu. 

In the future, B8ta plans on building relationships with the community by getting involved with events from the Hayes Valley Merchants Association and Neighborhood Association.

B8ta (415-534-5279) is open Sunday to Thursday from 11–7, and on Friday and Saturday from 11–8.

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B8ta brings hands on tech to hayes valley