Steve Jobs changed the face of Apple and retail forever on May 15, 2001

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 16
On this day in 2001, Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple Store, changing not only how customers would buy Apple hardware and get service for purchases, but also alter brick-and-mortar retail forever.

Steve Jobs shows the first Apple Store in 2001


"This is our store," Steve Jobs said, as he introduced the Apple Store for the first time 17 years ago, on May 15, 2001. The Apple Store, Apple's first foray into its own retail stores, opened its first two locations four days later, in Glendale, Calif. and then in Tysons Corner, Va. One AppleInsider staffer was present for the opening of the latter store.

In the years since, the Apple Store has grown to more than 500 stores in over 20 countries. It has surged in growth during a very difficult time for the retail sector as a whole, including in the consumer electronics space.

Steve Jobs unveiling the Apple Store at Tyson's Corner Mall in Virginia
Steve Jobs unveiling the Apple Store at Tysons Corner Mall in Virginia


While helping to drive Apple's own growth and playing a key role in the launches of iPod, iPhone, iPad and more, the Apple Store also forever changed the look of computer and electronics retail. And that look has been widely imitated, from Microsoft launching a chain of lookalike stores to Sony attempting the same to actual knockoff Apple Stores in China.

Before the Apple Store

Throughout the 1990s, Apple computers were sold in a combination of chain stores and authorized Apple retailers. Support for customers from the big-box stores was iffy, and related to how often Apple representatives and then later contractors visited, to keep the staff in line.

Starting in 1997, Apple migrated to a "store within a store" concept that it agreed to with CompUSA, shortly after Jobs' return to the company.

At the same time, Apple pulled its products out of most non-CompUSA big box retailers, at a time when Dell was Apple's main competitor and Apple was preparing to launch the original iMac. Apple also revamped its online store.

Jobs decided to open Apple-branded retail stores, and hired executive Ron Johnson, formerly of Target, to run them in early 2000.

The first stores





On May 15, 2001, Apple announced that it would open 25 retail stores that year, including its first two that Saturday.

The first stores, as introduced by Jobs in an introductory video and opening on the 19th, featured such products in the front section as iMacs and iBooks, as well as the then-new PowerBook G4 Titanium and Power Macs. The iPod, however, would not be released for another five months.

Children using the Flower Power iMacs at Tyson's Corner, the day it opened
Children using the Flower Power iMacs at Tyson's Corner, the day it opened


Also featured in the store were music, movies, photos and a kids section, as well as non-Apple digital cameras and camcorders. There was also a great deal of boxed software.

Another initial selling point was the original incarnation of the Genius Bar, which featured pictures of Albert Einstein and other famous geniuses who had been included in Apple's "Think Different" ads of the time. Jobs positioned the in-store "geniuses" as able to answer customers' questions -- and if they couldn't, there was a landline to someone in Cupertino who could.

More than 500 fans lined up at the Tysons store starting at pre-dawn that first day. Over the weekend, Tysons and Glendale hosted more than 7500 visitors, and sold a combined $599,000 in products over the first two days.

The corporate store approach had been tried before. Dell and Gateway both tiptoed into retail before Apple got to it -- but both of their efforts faded quickly.

Early and sustained success

Apple's Cube store in New York


The stores succeeded out of the gate, despite a great deal of industry skepticism. Apple announced that 7,700 customers had visited the first two stores during their first two days in business, purchasing $599,000 worth of merchandise.

The Apple Store's success never really abated. Its first urban flagship, on Chicago's Magnificent Mile, opened in 2003, with the first international Apple Store arriving in Ginza, Tokyo, Japan, later that year. Five years to the day after the first two stores, in 2006, Apple opened its iconic "cube" location on Fifth Avenue in New York.

While the number of Apple Stores worldwide crossed 500 earlier this year with its first location in Korea, the originals haven't been forgotten. The store Apple designated number one in Glendale, remains a popular site for fan pilgrimages. But store number two -- Tyson's -- was still the first to open.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 46
    I well recall thinking something along the line of "What are you doing Apple noooooo!!!" I've learned to trust my overlords since then.
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 46
    I took the day off from my job at CompUSA corporate HQ to go stand in line at the third Apple store to open, Apple Willow Bend in Plano, Texas. This store was designated as "R008" even though it was number 3 to open. I stood in line for about 3 hours. I wasn't buying a new Mac that day. Instead, I bought a really great USB scanner that I used until I got an Intel Mac 5 years later. The scanner driver wasn't compatible with Intel Macs. I started working at Apple Willow Bend in January 2003. I was later promoted to Mac Genius. I left in late 2007 to become an Apple consultant.
    edited May 15 radarthekatchasmrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 46
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,582member
    This was one of those things were a lot of people were thinking it was going to fail because Gateway was just about close all of their Gateway Country Stores right when Apple was about to open their first. Boy were a lot of people wrong...kinda rings a bell still to this day with many Apple releases. I couldn't wait for Apple to open a retail store around my area and I actually interviewed for a Mac Genius position at the store closest to me when they were about to open it. Ended up being a finalist, but they didn't offer me the position in the end. I'm glad they were successful and still are today. Its gotta still be one of the most profitable retail store chains in the world.
    edited May 15 repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 46
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,583member
    I remember buying my Apple gear on Tottenham court rd in London. The choices were basically micro Anvika or PC Warehouse (or whatever it was called), and both were utterly depressing places with staff that had no clue, actively tried to dissuade customers, and Macs that were grubby and un-cared for. Oh, and outnumbered at least 10-1 by PC's. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 46
    jorgiejorgie Posts: 33member
    Headlines like this are why people call Apple a cult...

    1. Steve was at the helm, but thousands of hard-working creative people at Apple were responsible for the creation and roll out of the Apple Stores. Steve announced it, he even *helped* shape it, but to pretend he did it in a vacuum is an insult to all the people that worked their asses off to make it happen.
    2. Not only did Apple not change the *face of retail*, they didn't even come up with a new idea. It is called a "boutique" and it was the norm across many different retail markets from perfume to high-end cars. Apple was the not even the first to apply it to computers. They did it really well, but it was not a new idea.

    You know, you can praise the things you like that Apple has done without using hyperbole every time. 

    Edit.. I stand corrected, Apple was not the first to apply it to computers. Macxpress brought up "Gateway Country Stores". Apple certainly did it better, and Gateway's lower margins just could not support an upscale shopping experience.
    edited May 15 gregg thurmanrich gregorychasmnumenorean
  • Reply 6 of 46
    Many think the iMac, iPod or iPhone saved Apple and started its trek to where it is today. I disagree. Without the Stores (that predate the iPod) people would have remained unaware that there was something other than Windows.  There was also OSX, followed by iOS. They were each easier to use and far more stable, but you had to experience them to see the difference. 

    And so began the journey. 

    The the same thing is now happening in the enterprise. Before Apple’s partnership with IBM the enterprise was blind to anything not Windows. That is changing today.  By 2030 I can see MacOS as the dominant platform in the enterprise. 
    lolliverradarthekatchasmjony0repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 46
    I well recall thinking something along the line of "What are you doing Apple noooooo!!!" I've learned to trust my overlords since then.
    jorgie said:
    Headlines like this are why people call Apple a cult...

    1. Steve was at the helm, but thousands of hard-working creative people at Apple were responsible for the creation and roll out of the Apple Stores. Steve announced it, he even *helped* shape it, but to pretend he did it in a vacuum is an insult to all the people that worked their asses off to make it happen.
    2. Not only did Apple not change the *face of retail*, they didn't even come up with a new idea. It is called a "boutique" and it was the norm across many different retail markets from perfume to high-end cars. Apple was the not even the first to apply it to computers. They did it really well, but it was not a new idea.

    You know, you can praise the things you like that Apple has done without using hyperbole every time. 

    Edit.. I stand corrected, Apple was not the first to apply it to computers. Macxpress brought up "Gateway Country Stores". Apple certainly did it better, and Gateway's lower margins just could not support an upscale shopping experience.

    I gotta admit when this happened my instinct was the same as King’s, realizing that the concept wasn’t necessarily new or unique. All I thought was that brick & motor was going to die and so why invest in it? Glad I was wrong and humbled by it. I used to be in sales (back in the VCR and Hi Fi days) and now realize that sales people will have their favorites, but they will also favor pushing those items that make them more money. So why not have salespeople that know about, love, use and are enthused about one brand? I guess that’s the lesson.

    Has Apple ever had to close one of their stores? 
    watto_cobraking editor the grate
  • Reply 8 of 46
    kimberlykimberly Posts: 144member
    jorgie said:
    Headlines like this are why people call Apple a cult...

    1. Steve was at the helm, but thousands of hard-working creative people at Apple were responsible for the creation and roll out of the Apple Stores. Steve announced it, he even *helped* shape it, but to pretend he did it in a vacuum is an insult to all the people that worked their asses off to make it happen.
    2. Not only did Apple not change the *face of retail*, they didn't even come up with a new idea. It is called a "boutique" and it was the norm across many different retail markets from perfume to high-end cars. Apple was the not even the first to apply it to computers. They did it really well, but it was not a new idea.

    You know, you can praise the things you like that Apple has done without using hyperbole every time. 

    Edit.. I stand corrected, Apple was not the first to apply it to computers. Macxpress brought up "Gateway Country Stores". Apple certainly did it better, and Gateway's lower margins just could not support an upscale shopping experience.
    My headline reads

    Steve Jobs changed the face of Apple's retail operations on May 15, 2001

    Your computer is just being mischievous.

    Have a tissue :'( ...
    edited May 15 StrangeDayssocalbrianlolliverbestkeptsecretnetmagejony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 46
    jorgiejorgie Posts: 33member
    kimberly said:

    My headline reads

    Steve Jobs changed the face of Apple's retail operations on May 15, 2001

    Ah, so all I have to do is to drink the hallucinogenic Kool-Aid and the headlines will make sense? No thanks. :)
    edited May 15
  • Reply 10 of 46
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,158member
    jorgie said:
    Headlines like this are why people call Apple a cult...

    1. Steve was at the helm, but thousands of hard-working creative people at Apple were responsible for the creation and roll out of the Apple Stores. Steve announced it, he even *helped* shape it, but to pretend he did it in a vacuum is an insult to all the people that worked their asses off to make it happen.
    2. Not only did Apple not change the *face of retail*, they didn't even come up with a new idea. It is called a "boutique" and it was the norm across many different retail markets from perfume to high-end cars. Apple was the not even the first to apply it to computers. They did it really well, but it was not a new idea.

    You know, you can praise the things you like that Apple has done without using hyperbole every time. 

    Edit.. I stand corrected, Apple was not the first to apply it to computers. Macxpress brought up "Gateway Country Stores". Apple certainly did it better, and Gateway's lower margins just could not support an upscale shopping experience.
    Uhm.

    Apple build a complete store inside a warehouse to simulate an actual store; that was certainly approved by Steve.

    That isn't something that is typical, and it was certainly due to Ron Johnson being hired by Steve Jobs, and Steve Jobs certainly had a hand in the design decisions. No one pretends that Steve did it in a vacuum, but he was certainly in charge, so, as they say, the "buck" stopped with him.

    Certainly, Apple stores are considered the highest earning by square foot of retail space, so yeah, Apple is a little bit beyond all of the "boutiques" that came before it.


    edited May 15 patchythepirateStrangeDayssocalbrianlolliverradarthekatnetmagejony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 46
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,906member
    jorgie said:
    Headlines like this are why people call Apple a cult...

    1. Steve was at the helm, but thousands of hard-working creative people at Apple were responsible for the creation and roll out of the Apple Stores. Steve announced it, he even *helped* shape it, but to pretend he did it in a vacuum is an insult to all the people that worked their asses off to make it happen.
    2. Not only did Apple not change the *face of retail*, they didn't even come up with a new idea. It is called a "boutique" and it was the norm across many different retail markets from perfume to high-end cars. Apple was the not even the first to apply it to computers. They did it really well, but it was not a new idea.

    You know, you can praise the things you like that Apple has done without using hyperbole every time. 

    Edit.. I stand corrected, Apple was not the first to apply it to computers. Macxpress brought up "Gateway Country Stores". Apple certainly did it better, and Gateway's lower margins just could not support an upscale shopping experience.
    "Forever" is a long time. I think that headline could be improved for the sake of accuracy.
    lolliver
  • Reply 12 of 46
    jorgiejorgie Posts: 33member
    tmay said:.

    Apple build a complete store inside a warehouse to simulate an actual store; that was certainly approved by Steve.

    That isn't something that is typical, and it was certainly due to Ron Johnson being hired by Steve Jobs, and Steve Jobs certainly had a hand in the design decisions. No one pretends that Steve did it in a vacuum, but he was certainly in charge, so, as they say, the "buck" stopped with him.

    Certainly, Apple stores are considered the highest earning by square foot of retail space, so yeah, Apple is a little bit beyond all of the "boutiques" that came before it.

    What does that have to do with anything? The headline is bullshit, Apple stores did not *change the face of retail*. At all. Being more successful at using the age-old boutique style store does not make your version new or innovative.
  • Reply 13 of 46
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,622member
    jorgie said:
    Headlines like this are why people call Apple a cult...

    1. Steve was at the helm, but thousands of hard-working creative people at Apple were responsible for the creation and roll out of the Apple Stores. Steve announced it, he even *helped* shape it, but to pretend he did it in a vacuum is an insult to all the people that worked their asses off to make it happen.
    2. Not only did Apple not change the *face of retail*, they didn't even come up with a new idea. It is called a "boutique" and it was the norm across many different retail markets from perfume to high-end cars. Apple was the not even the first to apply it to computers. They did it really well, but it was not a new idea.

    You know, you can praise the things you like that Apple has done without using hyperbole every time. 

    Edit.. I stand corrected, Apple was not the first to apply it to computers. Macxpress brought up "Gateway Country Stores". Apple certainly did it better, and Gateway's lower margins just could not support an upscale shopping experience.
    Your being absurd. It's well documented that Jobs was behind the store concept and worked with his hire of Johnson until it was how he liked it. Of course Johnson and untold others helped to do this, but that doesn't change that it was Jobs behind it.

    Apple's implementation of this boutique was head & shoulders above anything else, including Gateway Country stores, which I had also been to at the time. There's a reason why Samsung and Microsoft copy the Apple Store design to this day and not Gateway's.
    lollivernetmageapres587jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 46
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,622member

    jorgie said:
    kimberly said:

    My headline reads

    Steve Jobs changed the face of Apple's retail operations on May 15, 2001

    Ah, so all I have to do is to drink the hallucinogenic Kool-Aid and the headlines will make sense? No thanks. :)
    Beats being a hater looking to find fault with things and tossing out the same old, tired, troll tropes -- "But it's a cult!" "You drank the kool-aid!" etc. Tired and boring.
    edited May 15 lollivernetmagejony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 46
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,622member

    jorgie said:
    tmay said:.

    Apple build a complete store inside a warehouse to simulate an actual store; that was certainly approved by Steve.

    That isn't something that is typical, and it was certainly due to Ron Johnson being hired by Steve Jobs, and Steve Jobs certainly had a hand in the design decisions. No one pretends that Steve did it in a vacuum, but he was certainly in charge, so, as they say, the "buck" stopped with him.

    Certainly, Apple stores are considered the highest earning by square foot of retail space, so yeah, Apple is a little bit beyond all of the "boutiques" that came before it.

    What does that have to do with anything? The headline is bullshit, Apple stores did not *change the face of retail*. At all. Being more successful at using the age-old boutique style store does not make your version new or innovative.
    Apple certainly did innovate mall retail, from the layout to the building materials to the counter-less and line-less checkout process (what other stores let you self-checkout with your freaking phone's camera!?). While any one of these things things *maybe* could be found in a mall, no retailer had implemented all of them and with the superior skill that Apple did.

    I know this is butthurt inducing, but you cannot change history. Sorry.
    edited May 15 tmaylolliverradarthekatnetmagejony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 46
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 1,793member
    jorgie said:
    Headlines like this are why people call Apple a cult...

    1. Steve was at the helm, but thousands of hard-working creative people at Apple were responsible for the creation and roll out of the Apple Stores. Steve announced it, he even *helped* shape it, but to pretend he did it in a vacuum is an insult to all the people that worked their asses off to make it happen.
    2. Not only did Apple not change the *face of retail*, they didn't even come up with a new idea. It is called a "boutique" and it was the norm across many different retail markets from perfume to high-end cars. Apple was the not even the first to apply it to computers. They did it really well, but it was not a new idea.

    You know, you can praise the things you like that Apple has done without using hyperbole every time. 

    Edit.. I stand corrected, Apple was not the first to apply it to computers. Macxpress brought up "Gateway Country Stores". Apple certainly did it better, and Gateway's lower margins just could not support an upscale shopping experience.
    edited May 15 SpamSandwichlolliverradarthekatStrangeDaysnetmagebestkeptsecretwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 46
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,691member
    jorgie said:
    tmay said:.

    Apple build a complete store inside a warehouse to simulate an actual store; that was certainly approved by Steve.

    That isn't something that is typical, and it was certainly due to Ron Johnson being hired by Steve Jobs, and Steve Jobs certainly had a hand in the design decisions. No one pretends that Steve did it in a vacuum, but he was certainly in charge, so, as they say, the "buck" stopped with him.

    Certainly, Apple stores are considered the highest earning by square foot of retail space, so yeah, Apple is a little bit beyond all of the "boutiques" that came before it.

    What does that have to do with anything? The headline is bullshit, Apple stores did not *change the face of retail*. At all. Being more successful at using the age-old boutique style store does not make your version new or innovative.
    You think it didn't. I think it did. Big deal... 

    More importantly, if Apple inspires cult-like behavior, so what? If you want some un-cult place (product) go hang out (buy) somewhere (something) else. Everyone's happy!
    fastasleeplolliverradarthekatStrangeDaysjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 46
    jorgie said:
    What does that have to do with anything? The headline is bullshit, Apple stores did not *change the face of retail*. At all. Being more successful at using the age-old boutique style store does not make your version new or innovative.
    You think it didn't. I think it did. Big deal... 

    More importantly, if Apple inspires cult-like behavior, so what? If you want some un-cult place (product) go hang out (buy) somewhere (something) else. Everyone's happy!
    Agreed. Owning the best products in the history of man is not for everyone! :)
    fastasleeplolliverradarthekatjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 46
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,158member
    jorgie said:
    tmay said:.

    Apple build a complete store inside a warehouse to simulate an actual store; that was certainly approved by Steve.

    That isn't something that is typical, and it was certainly due to Ron Johnson being hired by Steve Jobs, and Steve Jobs certainly had a hand in the design decisions. No one pretends that Steve did it in a vacuum, but he was certainly in charge, so, as they say, the "buck" stopped with him.

    Certainly, Apple stores are considered the highest earning by square foot of retail space, so yeah, Apple is a little bit beyond all of the "boutiques" that came before it.

    What does that have to do with anything? The headline is bullshit, Apple stores did not *change the face of retail*. At all. Being more successful at using the age-old boutique style store does not make your version new or innovative.
    Nice retort!

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/29/here-are-the-retailers-that-make-the-most-money-per-square-foot-on-their-real-estate.html

    The fact that Apple's retail success is so exceptional, and for such a long period of time, seems to bear out the truth in the headlines, yet you provide no examples of your own to prove that Apple is only "a little bit beyond all of the boutiques that came before it". 

    Not your best effort.

    I read all of your previous posts.
    edited May 15 lolliverradarthekatStrangeDaysnetmagefastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 46
    metrixmetrix Posts: 220member
    Wow its almost like Apple has done nothing for 17 years, the concept of the Apple store is still quite the same. Cook better get things going it seems like there is no "one more thing for years"
    edited May 15
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