Inside Apple Stores, a Certain Aura Enchants the Faithful – New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/27/business/27apple.html

While in Paris this year, I was turned away by three different Apple-specific resellers when I asked if I could use one of their locked-down Macs to back up my months’ worth of travel photos. Not an unreasonable response from most businesses, I suppose, but I’m a longtime Apple user (and former employee), so I was a little disappointed with their rejection.

By comparison, at the Apple Store-within-a-store in the St Germain FNAC, the employees didn’t even have to hear my whole request; A stool was procured and set at one of the main display units, and the iMac’s password entered. I spent 2 hours with iPhoto, editing and uploading thousands of snaps from iPhoto, all the while fielding customers’ questions about the application, computer, system software, etc.

That’s the thing with creating happy customers and passionate users – they’re usually thrilled to do a lot of your promotional work for you. This little story gives more insight both into the company’s cult-like following, and the creative and communal types who feed it:

The policy has given some stores, especially those in urban neighborhoods, the feel of a community center. Two years ago, Isobella Jade was down on her luck, living on a friend’s couch and struggling to make it as a fashion model when she had the idea of writing a book about her experience as a short woman trying to break into the modeling business.

Unable to afford a computer, Ms. Jade, 25, began cadging time on a laptop at the Apple store in the SoHo section of Manhattan. Ms. Jade spent hours at a stretch standing in a discreet corner of the store, typing. Within a few months, she had written nearly 300 pages.

Not only did store employees not mind, but at closing time they often made certain to shut Ms. Jade’s computer down last, to give her a little extra time. A few months later, the store invited her to give an in-store reading from her manuscript.

By the way, as a former employee, I can now tackle this little tidbit:

The close attention paid to detail in the stores’ designs, such as the maple veneer tables used for product displays, gives the impression that Steven P. Jobs himself, the company’s co-founder and chief executive, signed off on every square aesthetic inch of every store.

HE DOES.

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