Apple’s first foray into retail was a giant question mark on May 19th, 2001, when Apple opened the doors to its first two retail locations in Glendale, CA and McLean, VA. Ten years later, Apple’s retail stores are a crucial piece of the puzzle that has been assembled to create a customer experience unlike any other. “Apple today announced that its first two retail locations welcomed over 7700 people and sold a combined total of $599,000 of merchandise during their first two day weekend,” an Apple press release boasted on May 21st, 2001. Despite the solid weekend, several media outlets lambasted Apple for its decision to target high-rent areas with its first flock of retail shops while Gateway had just closed the doors on its retail endeavor. “I give them two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake,” one analyst was quoted as saying following Apple’s retail debut.
But the company was still optimistic. “We are blown away with the numbers,” CEO Steve Jobs said following the stores’ opening weekend. “More importantly, customers have told us they love everything about the store—from the knowledgeable sales staff to the Genius Bar to the store’s design and unique approach to presenting digital lifestyle solutions.” In fiscal 2009, Apple Stores grossed $6.65 billion globally for $1.66 billion in profit. In fiscal 2010, Apple’s retail stores pulled in $2.36 billion in profit on $9.8 billion in revenue. So far over the first six months of fiscal 2011, Apple has made $1.84 billion in profit on revenues of $7.04 billion. Apple’s gravity defying retail performance can’t keep climbing forever, but from where we’re sitting, opening those first few Apple Stores 10 years ago seems like it worked out pretty well. And we’re fairly confident Apple still has a few tricks up its sleeve to ensure that the crowds keep coming. Hit the break for a video of Steve Jobs introducing the world to Apple’s first Apple Store.