On Apple Stores

This is a good article about Apple’s retail stores. As my wife could tell you, I can’t go into a mall that has an Apple Store without going in and playing for a while. In fact, they’ll be opening one on King Street in Alexandria, VA in the next year. I live on King Street when I’m in DC.

Consider this: Apple says its stores are now making more than $1 billion in sales per quarter. Just two years ago, the stores were making $1 billion a year — and at that time they were the fastest-growing retail operation in history, beating the previous record holder The Gap to $1 billion annual sales in just three years, according to Ron Johnson, the executive in charge of Apple’s retail operations. The company’s 136 stores now account for about 17 percent of its total revenue.

That’s a lot of money. But put that into perspective with the number of people who do what I do — just go in and hang out:

Given the history of PC makers running their own retail stores — namely Gateway — most critics gave Apple’s shopping experiment short shrift.

“I give them two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake,” one analyst told BusinessWeek.

But the stores are going gangbusters. Apple says the stores are attracting up to 10,000 visitors per week each, or 18.1 million visitors a year in total. Each Gateway store, on the other hand, pulled in on average only 250 people a week, according to Johnson.

The key, according to Johnson’s analysis, is that old real-estate mantra — location, location, location.

From the get-go, Apple wanted a “lifestyle” store, and so chose high-end malls and trendy shopping districts — not low-rent strip malls on the edge of town. The idea was to get foot traffic, to build the kind of store where the curious could drop in and learn what it’s like on the other side.

That is probably why Macon will never see an Apple Store. But, I hope it is only a matter of time before Douglasville, GA gets one. Then, when we go see the in-laws, I have a really good excuse to go to the mall.

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Erick Erickson

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  • The Advocate, local rag in Baton Rouge had an article yesterday that said something about people “out there” trying to break thru Apple’s great protectons from viruses, etc. Hopefully there are people at Apple who are staying ahead of this game, although the article said a particular person had warned Apple, but they did not seem to be taking the threat seriously. As smart as Apple people are, I don’t think that is true. . .I hope they stay vigilant against such vermin.

  • They make you wonder. Apple apparently expects people to identify with the young, dirty guy. I don’t want my computer to be like a young, dirty guy.