Apple Stores: A 10-Year Retrospective Analysis

On May 15, 2001, the curtains were first pulled back to reveal an Apple retail store, with Steve Jobs personally guiding the media through the inaugural location at Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia. Shortly thereafter, this store, along with another in Glendale, California, welcomed the public. Fast forward to today, and Apple boasts over 320 stores in 11 countries, with the original Glendale location achieving a near-mythical status.

These stores are not just retail spaces but landmarks in their own right, with flagship locations in major cities like Chicago, San Francisco, Sydney, New York, and Glasgow. Notably, one can find an Apple Store within the historic confines of the Louvre Museum in Paris, and the largest of them all in London.

This retrospective celebrates Apple’s retail journey, inviting readers to share their experiences in the comments below.

The Early Days

In a covert operation back in January 2000, Apple brought on board Ron Johnson from Target, tasking him with creating a retail environment that embodied Apple’s innovative spirit.

The initial prototype store, constructed inside a Cupertino warehouse, was completely scrapped for a design that has since become iconic.

According to AppleInsider, the first 11 stores were launched with an initial investment of $1.6 million each, under leases spanning 10 to 12 years.

Launch Celebrations

Apple Store openings have turned into significant events, drawing large crowds eager to experience the new spaces. Early visitors often leave with limited edition T-shirts, a tradition that has included unique giveaways in cities like Boston, Sydney, and Paris.

Innovative Retailing

Apple Stores initially featured dedicated point-of-sale stations, a concept that was later abandoned in favor of the more flexible EasyPay system, which uses mobile devices to process transactions anywhere in the store. This system was updated in 2009 to use iPod touch devices, setting a trend that other retailers, including the Girl Scouts and Old Navy, would follow.

The Genius Bar, another standout feature, offers tech support by knowledgeable staff. Initially, customers could even enjoy a complimentary bottle of Evian water while they waited, a practice that was phased out in 2002.

The Ginza store in Japan was the first to introduce a separate bar for iPod-related inquiries, a concept that was later implemented in New York.

In 2007, Apple introduced the ability to book Genius Bar appointments up to two days in advance, streamlining the customer service experience.

Financial Success

By 2004, Apple had committed nearly $386 million in lease payments for its retail spaces and had invested $359 million in capital expenditures. These stores proved to be highly profitable, with Q1 2011 revenues alone reaching $9.8 billion, accounting for 15% of Apple’s total sales.

Iconic Locations

Today, Apple’s largest stores attract more visitors than Major League Baseball stadiums, with locations like the Shanghai store boasting the world’s largest curved glass panels. The Regent Street store in London and the 5th Avenue store in New York have become destinations in their own right, drawing millions of visitors.

Visiting an Apple Store is always a memorable experience, thanks to the friendly staff and the opportunity to try out the latest Apple products in a beautifully designed space. Here’s to many more years of innovative retailing from Apple.

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Mark is a dedicated writer for TUAW, bringing insightful and engaging content to Apple enthusiasts around the world. With a deep understanding of Apple products like the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook, Mark’s articles offer readers valuable tips, news, and reviews. His expertise in the tech industry, combined with a knack for clear and concise writing, makes him a trusted voice in the Apple community. When he’s not writing, Mark enjoys exploring the latest apps and software updates, always staying ahead of the curve.