Angela Ahrendts discusses the future of Apple Retail


Apple’s Senior VP of Retail Angela Ahrendts explained the company’s plans for the future of Apple Retail in her presentation at today’s Apple Event, saying that Apple Stores are no longer just stores – they’re Town Squares.

Ahrendts has been talking about this for a while but, for some reason, it was only yesterday it hit me how odd and jarring the term “Town Squares” was. I can’t quite put my finger on why I dislike it so much.

  • JimCracky

    You dislike it so much because it’s pretentious. Apple is in a bind. Their stores are wildly successful. But, they are located in malls. Malls will soon be ghost towns. The nearest Apple Store is in a mall and it’s the only store that has sustaining traffic.

    • invinciblegod

      Wasn’t there are article on how apple stores revitalized the stores around it in a mall?

    • GlennC777

      I’m with you. It’s almost cringe-worthy-level pretension.

  • GS

    It fits the concept of how they want the stores to be perceived. Better than Urban Square.

  • invinciblegod

    Because for it to be a real town square, it needs to basically be an Apple Starbucks, Unless it is because the store here is small, why would anyone want to hang out at a place which is packed to the brim, is loud so you can’t hear other people, has no food or drink, and has employees who want to sell you stuff?

    • totalitat

      Uh…all the people packing it to the brim seem to want to hang out there.

    • “has employees who want to sell you stuff?” I’ve been in dozens of Apple Retail stores and not once have I ever felt like “employees want to sell you stuff.” They are happy to help you buy stuff but I’ve never felt any pressure to do so.

      • I’ve often felt they’re actively hiding on me. 🙂

    • macrumpton

      As Yogi Berra said “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

  • adambadam

    I understand they want to move away from being just a store as they become more diverse in the activities they offer but I agree town square is not the first term I would use to describe them. I think the big thing where they miss the mark to me is a town square is owned by the people. It is a place for the public to freely gather whether you are just out on a stroll or a person who wants to yell on a soap box. Something tells me if you try to proselytize in an “Apple Town Square” you would be asked to leave the private property you are on.

  • art hackett

    iPhone X, Town Square, MacBook Pro? Are you getting it? I’m not.

  • Town Square somehow reminds me of where you burn witches.

  • It’s just adding another layer of terminology on top of “store.” And it seems incredibly pretentious to me. Like by renaming things she can change the way they work. She knows a lot about retail so I feel odd questioning her, but in this case the entire naming scheme seems contrived, at least to me.

  • They aren’t just where you go to buy things. Therefore, more than a store. But yeah, “Town Square” doesn’t seem like a term that includes the sales functions, and therefore is more of a euphemism than a description.

    Ultimately, the sign on the door is just the logo. No words at all. Most people will still call it the Apple Store. So this just boils down to what branding they use on stage.

    “Apple Town Square” as a name for the stores will likely fade away. No big deal.

  • cyclonus5150

    All of the recent Apple Retail space branding is far too esoteric and not even remotely accessible to the average Apple Store customer. Town Square, The Avenue, The Forum, The Grove…none of it has that instant connection like Genius Bar or Family Room or Theater did. The Board Room makes sense but it’s also legacy branding that came along with Joint Venture. One of my favorite things to do with a new customer was to give them the store tour and connect them with all of the features within the space – here’s the Genius Bar, where you’ll get help, here’s the Family Room where we have all of the accessories to get the most out of your solution, here’s the Theater where we offer workshops, etc. It was all super straightforward and instantly memorable.

  • I did a double take when AA used that term in the SE. Simply awful.

    “Town square” feels like a metaphor to be used internally, to describe Apple’s goals for the stores, rather than the way AA is using it on the customer facing side.

    The emphasis on bricks and clicks is happening for a reason. Shoppers want both. No need to sex it up, just refer to the retail side as Apple Stores, while continuing to expand quality activities. Show, don’t tell.

  • Scott R.

    Because it’s unbelievably arrogant of her & Apple to think that they are providing anything that even comes CLOSE to the value of a REAL town square. Starbucks is way closer to a town square than an Apple Retail Store. In fact, that is what the creator of Starbucks talks about a lot in his autobiography, “Pour Your Heart Into It”.

  • Mo

    Marketing nomenclature.

    • You’re being very generous 🙂

      • Mo

        Sinus headache. [shrug]

  • edsug

    I hear you… AND a new Apple Store just opened in my town. They have a big lawn in front with lawn games and tables and what do you know… people DO hang out there, have fun with their families, and (ugh) bask in the benevolent glow of the Apple logo.

    So yeah I DO get some “town square” vibe, INSANE as that sounds when they say it.

    But in a way, that’s Apple’s superpower…they create things that sounds ridiculous, then once you experience them, you GET it.

  • My towne has an oval

  • You dislike it so much because it rings false. It simply isn’t a Town Square. It’s the same as when my bank started calling their branches “stores.” A bank branch is not a store. An Apple store is not a town square. Words have meanings and those words don’t suddenly mean those things because someone at a megacorporation says they do.