Complete with the white Apple logo, sleek wooden tables and a cheery staff claiming to work for the iPhone makers, most in China assumed that the store in Kunming was just like all the rest. The store looks every bit like Apple Stores found across the globe, with all the signature touches. Except, if you go to Apple's Web site and search for locations in China, this store won't show up - because it's a fake.
The store in Kunming was stumbled upon by a 27-year-old American blogger living in the city of Kunming, the capital of China's mountainous southwestern Yunnan province. Located not far the borders of Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar, the city's fast-growing industrial and manufacturing base is emblematic of China's ascent on the world stage.
According to the blogger, who goes by the name BirdAbroad, this was a total Apple store rip-off. A beautiful rip-off -- a brilliant one -- the best rip-off store we had ever seen. Being the curious types that we are, we struck up some conversation with these salespeople who, hand to God, all genuinely think they work for Apple.
But, Apple lists no store in Kunming and there are just 13 authorized resellers in the city who, technically, are not allowed to call themselves Apple Stores or claim to work for Apple.
An Apple spokesman in California declined to comment on the fake stores but said consumers can go to the company's website to locate authorized outlets.
It was unclear whether the store sold genuine Apple products or counterfeit knockoffs.
Western countries often complain about the pervasive intellectual property theft that occurs in China.
Famous U.S. brands, and the respect and loyalty they command from consumers, are critical to our ability to compete in China and around the world. Press reports of a fake Apple store are indicative of the challenges we continue to face combating intellectual property theft in China, a senior U.S. trade official said.
Confronting those challenges is a high priority for the Obama Administration, the official added.
Here's a look at the store that had everyone fooled: