CUPERTINO, California — The store at Apple’s headquarters is back in business.
After shutting it for renovations this summer, the consumer-electronics giant is reopening the shop at 1 Infinite Loop. The store is a popular tourist attraction, offering T-shirts, gadgets and novelties.
For years, visitors from around the world came to buy Macs and iPods. The new reopened store will now stock something they couldn’t get there: the iPhone, Apple’s most popular product.
We got a tour of Apple’s new digs on Friday, shortly after the company opened it to employees for a sneak peek. CEO Tim Cook visited earlier in the day, greeted by a line of staffers snaking around the campus. The store opens to the public Saturday morning.
“It’s completely different,” said Enrique Atienza, a senior market director at Apple.
And it is. The old store, first opened 22 years ago, was dark and reminiscent of a campus bookstore. It was also the only place Apple fans could get company swag. It had T-shirts with slogans like, “It’s the thinnest, most lightweight T-shirt yet,” or baby onesies that said “User guide not included.” You could buy iPads, iPods and Macs there, but no other devices.
By contrast, the new store is bright. It has a glass facade, a wall of wooden shelves and hundreds of lights overhead. It’s reminiscent of the Apple retail store at your local mall.
The T-shirts are still clever, but less slapstick. One of them says “ Shirt,” while another has a picture of the ubiquitous ellipses that iPhone users see when the person they’re texting with is typing a response. For the first time ever, the campus store will also be open on Saturdays.
The store is part of Apple’s new retail strategy. The company has charged Angela Ahrendts, the former Burberry CEO, with revitalizing the division by bringing an air of high-fashion sensibility. She works with Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, who’s helping with the redesigns.
Apple has largely defined the modern electronics-shopping experience, but some say the novelty has worn off. Stores from Samsung and Microsoft have successfully mimicked Apple’s retail feel, and Apple no longer breaks out sales for the retail division.
Still, indications are that Apple’s stores could use some attention. In Apple’s fiscal 2014, retail sales rose only 6 percent, to $21.46 billion, slower than the 7 percent a year earlier. Retail sales growth has fallen every year since 2010, when the stores notched a 47 percent rise.
That hasn’t stopped the Mac maker from expanding. In the fiscal third quarter, which ended June 27, Apple opened three retail stores, bringing its total to 456. Greater China has become a big focus, with Apple planning to have 40 stores in the region by mid-2016. As of the end of January, 182 of Apple’s stores were outside the US.
Fans hope the new moves from Ahrendts and Co. will make the difference. But don’t look to the new campus store for all the changes you can expect. Atienza said it wouldn’t necessarily be a template for coming stores, but some elements — like revamped wood shelves and the lighting — are the kinds of things you can expect in future stores. Apple is also opening a store in Brussels, Belgium, on Saturday, which has a similar look and feel.
Atienza said Apple may consider holding local events for the community in its corporate store, similar to efforts in other cities.