As MacCentral reported
yesterday, Apple will open a retail store this Friday in the new Shops at Willow Bend shopping center in Plano, TX. The company is also planning to open a store at the Mall of America outside of Minneapolis-St. Paul on Aug. 11 and a Chicago area store on Aug. 25, as well as broadening a pilot program that puts Apple employees inside its store-within-a-store locations at CompUSA outlets, according to
“Apple sales representatives are working in several CompUSA retail locations to help enhance the customer buying experience,” Apple said in a statement provided to CNET News.com. “This pilot program started on April 1, and we’ll continue to review its success.”
David Bailey, a Gerard Klauer Mattison analyst who follows Apple, told CNET that putting Apple workers inside CompUSA outlets could help Mac sales.
“Apple has unique products, and they need a retail system that allows them to articulate the benefits,” Bailey said. “It appears the best way for them to do that is to use Apple employees, whether in their own stores or selected national retailers.”
It’s no secret that neither Apple execs or the Apple users have been happy with the way Macs are handled in some retail stores. In a January conference call with financial analysts, Tim Cook, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, said the company was looking for better representation and would cut ties with some of its sellers. And in March, Apple and Sears terminated a deal that let the retail giant sell Apple products.
“Apple and Sears have mutually agreed to part ways and will be phasing out our partnership over the remainder of 2001,” Sears representative Tom Nicholson told MacCentral at the time.
Sears carried Mac products for several years before abandoning the platform during Apple’s “dark days” of 1997-98. Sears return to the Apple fold was announced during Apple iCEO Steve Jobs’ keynote address at the 1999 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference. At the time, it was felt that the chain was a natural for selling the extremely hot iMacs because it had 844 stores and served 32 million households. No reason was given for the dissolution of the Apple-Sears partnership in March.