1By Leslie Horn
In China, you can buy a knock-off Gucci wallet, you can cop a pair of
counterfeit Air Jordans, and now you can even visit a fake Apple Store.
Located in the south-central Chinese city of Kunming, the faux shop might as
well be a movie set; it looks convincing, going by the photos originally
posted on the blog of an ex-pat living in the city, uncovered by
ifoAppleStore. However, the employees, outfitted with Apple name tags and
blue t-shirts with Apple logos, aren't in on the ruse. They actually believe
they're working for Apple.
In fact, when two employees and three plainclothes security guards asked the
blogger to stop taking photos of the store, she said she was an American
Apple employee visiting China to take a look at Apple Stores in the country
and they let her continue to snap pictures.
The photos show that store includes such details typical to Apple's retail
locations as acrylic information panels, long wooden display tables, and a
winding staircase leading to the second level. The iPads, iPhones, MacBooks,
and other Apple products look real, too.
The fake store isn't one-of-a-kind, either. The blogger said she discovered
two more Apple Store dopplegangers in the city of 6.8 million people,
including one with a sign labeled, "Apple Stoer." Such gaffes aren't
uncommon in the knock-off market in China—you can see more examples,
including an "iPhone 5G," in PCMag's slideshow of the Shenzhen electronics.
Whoever is behind the store is capitalizing on a growing trend in China.
Apple products have been hot in China and they're only getting hotter. The
first Apple Store opened in Beijing in July 2008, just before the summer
Olympics kicked off in the capital city. Since then, Apple has added three
more stores in China; one in Beijing and two in Shanghai. It's rumored Apple
will open an additional 20 stores in the country in 2011. While Apple hasn'
t confirmed that number, it's clear the company will continue to push China.
But why China? Chinese Apple Stores are some of the busiest in Apple's
international retail fleet. They see on average the highest volume of foot
traffic, averaging about 40,000 visitors each day, found times more than the
daily traffic seen by U.S. stores. They also do the most business. In its
Q2 earnings call this spring, Apple said that quarterly revenue from China
had quadrupled, soaring to $2.6 billion, or about 10 percent of Apple's
Apple wouldn't comment on the fake store, and there's no indication if it
will—or even can—shut the operation down.
Counterfeit Apple Stores Popping Up In China
July 19, 2011
While Apple undertakes the painstaking work required to open amazing retail
stores in China, there are competitors who have taken a less meticulous
approach and have opened their own, less-amazing “Apple Stores.” A woman
living and working in the south-central city of Kunming says she discovered
one of the stores recently, staffed with blue-shirted employees who believe
they actually work for Apple Inc. In a posting today, photos of one fake
store show wood display tables, stone and wood floors, acrylic information
panels, wall-mounted graphics, iPads on tilted stands, and a circular
staircase to the second level. The employees even have white lanyards around
their necks with white plastic name tags. “We struck up a conversation
with these salespeople who, hand to God, all genuinely think they work for
Apple,” the blogger writes. As the woman tried to take some photos of the
store, she was quickly approached by five employees asking her to stop.
However, after implying that she and a companion were Apple employees
visiting from America, the staff turned friendly and allowed her to snap
some photos. Later, during a walk around her neighborhood in the city of 6.8
million residents, she found two more look-alike stores, one with a sign
that proclaimed, “Apple Stoer.”
This photo inside a fake Apple store in Kunming, China shows bold wall
graphics, a wood display counter against the wall, an employee in a Apple
logo blue shirt wearing a white name tag on a lanyard, acrylic info cards,
iPads on tilted acrylic stands, stone floor, and the "Apple Store" sign. The
second level has wood flooring. — photo by Jess