FEATURE: 05.26.21 – Did you know that there once was an Apple Store that (of all things) didn’t sell the company’s hardware or devices in-store?
The Apple Store — a concept that is now 20 years old — opened its first two stores back in the Spring of 2001 at Apple Tysons Corner in McLane, Virginia and Apple Glendale Galleria in Glendale, California. Since then, Apple’s venture as a brick and mortar retailer has grown to over 500 locations worldwide and the Apple retail store has been, for two decades now, a one-stop shop for purchasing (as well as getting service and support for) Apple products and accessories like AirPods, an iPhone, or a Mac.
Something that the average user of Apple products and accessories doesn’t know, however, is that there used to be a special Apple retail store located on the Apple Campus at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California (Apple’s former headquarters) called “The Company Store” which was unique in that the location sold all kinds of items that were emblazoned with the Apple logo (e.g., clothing).
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Apple Fan Heaven
The Company Store — which I had the opportunity to visit for the very first (and only) time back in the Summer of 2010 during an educators conference being hosted on site at the Apple Campus — was, for an Apple fan, as close to heaven as one could get, especially for a “fanboy” like me who always wished that the Apple Store sold apparel imprinted with the Apple logo in order to give fans, such as myself, a way to show their affinity for a certain company named after a fruit (akin to people who wear the jerseys of the players on their favorite sports teams).
This special Apple retail store was stocked floor-to-ceiling with all kinds of merchandise bearing the company’s iconic logo on the items, such as water bottles and coffee mugs, just to name a few. The Company Store, in particular, much to the sheer delight of this Apple fan, also sold clothing like t-shirts, jackets, and hats. In addition, while they sold a selection of Apple products and accessories, for instance, cases for the iPhone and iPod, as well as some software titles for the Mac, interestingly enough, since it was not officially an Apple Store, per se, although you could easily buy a mouse pad or a note pad, you couldn’t get the hottest item that year, the iPad, as the company’s hardware and devices were not sold in-store.
After finally finding the Apple Store that used to only exist in my dreams, you would have thought that this Apple fan would have gone on a shopping spree and splurged but despite my urge to buy everything in the store that day? The only two items that I walked away with from The Company Store were a souvenir t-shirt that I purchased (a black shirt that had a white Apple logo on the back, and, on the front, the words “I visited the Mothership” printed in white with the same font, Myriad, that was used at the time for Apple’s product branding and marketing materials) and an “exclusive” of sorts that wasn’t actually an item sold in-store which I got for free: a pair of black retractable pens with a white apple logo (a store employee gave them to me after I asked if the writing instruments I saw at the checkout counter were available for purchase… they weren’t).
Apple ‘Souvenir Tchotchkes’
Macworld — in an article published earlier this month previewing the latest edition of its weekly podcast (episode no. 742) — recently shared with its readers a wish list of Apple products and accessories that the company should make.
On the wish list was a router, soundbar, as well as brand new hardware and devices with a retro appearance such as an M1-based Mac housed in an iMac G4-like enclosure. Most notably, though, was one item that specifically caught the attention of this Apple fan: “souvenir tchotchkes” (e.g., t-shirts and pens).
“It’s not an important product set at all, but Apple is one of a few companies with dedicated fans, and these items are a fun way to express fandom,” said the senior editor of Macworld.
Apple Apparel Store?
Apple Park Visitors Center — located on Apple Park in Cupertino (Apple’s headquarters since 2017) — is another special Apple retail store that, like The Company Store, also does not sell the company’s hardware or devices in-store.
According to the senior editor of Macworld, the only merchandise that the Apple Park Visitors Center sells in-store is t-shirts. And, in their own words, “nothing else” (not even the kinds of souvenir tchotchkes that you can drink out of or write with / on). Unlike at The Company Store which sold other types of apparel imprinted with the Apple logo (e.g., jackets and hats).
As for The Company Store? As reported by the senior editor of Macworld, the store formerly housed on the Apple Campus is now just a regular Apple Store, Apple Infinite Loop, an Apple retail store which, in addition to Apple products and accessories, actually sells the company’s hardware and devices like… the Mac.
Related Reading: from this column’s article archives (October 2018) – “A Very Memorable Visit To The Mothership At 1 Infinite Loop In Cupertino”