On Saturday, May 19, 2001, Apple Inc. opened its first retail store in the US, at Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia. Steve Jobs, the then CEO had hosted a press event earlier that week at the Tysons Corner Center mall announcing the opening of 25 retail stores in 2001. The other retail store that Apple launched on the same day was at Glendale Galleria in Glendale, California. According to Jobs, the retail stores were designed to give Apple customers an amazing experience. He said “The Apple stores offer an amazing new way to buy a computer. Rather than just hear about megahertz and megabytes, customers can now learn and experience the things they can actually do with a computer, like make movies, burn custom music CDs, and publish their digital photos on a personal website.
Upon launch, the Apple retail stores carried every Apple product and over 300 third-party software titles to be bought off-the-rack. The store salespeople were demonstrated Macs powered with applications such as iTunes and iMovie. The newly launched Mac OS X operating system was available for customers to experience firsthand. All the Macs on display were connected to the Internet.
On May 19, over 500 fans lined up at about 4 am EDT to be among the first customers. By the time the store opened at 10 am, they had started to chant “Apple, Apple, Apple”. On the opening day, security guards kept a close watch over the people entering the store since local regulations limited store capacity to 80 people. In the first two days, the Apple retail stores welcomed over 7700 people and recorded the sales of over $599,000 worth of merchandise. On the opening day, Apple customers found the following message in their shopping bags, “This store is our way of personally introducing you to the Apple way of life. At Apple, we are committed to building a community where knowledge can be shared freely.”
In that age of uncertainty, many thought Apple’s dip into retail waters was an act of supreme foolishness. But as Apple is wont, they did it anyway. The choice turned out to be a wise one indeed.