Upon first glance, it looks like every other Apple store should. But to the trained eye of an American blogger living in Kunming City, China, it was clearly an impostor.
On Wednesday, a blogger who goes by the handle BirdAbroad posted photos of a local store, which she said looks exactly like one of Apple's full-service retail stores -- down to the minute details.
This was a total Apple store rip-off -- a brilliant one. The best rip-off store we had ever seen, the blogger wrote. It had the classic Apple store winding staircase and weird upstairs sitting area. The employees were even wearing those blue T-shirts with the chunky Apple name tags around their necks, she wrote. But some things were just not right: the stairs were poorly made. The walls hadn't been painted properly. Apple never writes 'Apple Store' on its signs - it just puts up the glowing, iconic fruit.
But the store is not among the authorized resellers listed on Apple Inc.'s Web site. Rather, the iPhone maker has four company stores in China and they are in prime locations: Beijing and Shanghai.
Apple, which is in the midst of a plan to extend its Chinese presence, relies on a network of authorized resellers to get its products into the hands of Chinese consumers -- but its own Apple stores are essential to the company's marketing strategy, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Nonetheless, workers at the unauthorized Kunming Apple Store apparently thought they worked for the real company anyway.
Being the curious types that we are, we struck up some conversation with these salespeople, BirdAbroad wrote. They, hand to God, all genuinely think they work for Apple.
A store employee reached by phone by the Wall Street Journal confirmed the store was not an authorized Apple reseller, but that the products sold were genuine Apple products and sold at the same prices as those advertised on Apple's Web site.
BirdAbroad wrote in her Wednesday blog that the store staffer she reached by phone was under no such illusion.
It doesn't make much of a difference for us whether we're authorized or not, he said. I just acre that what I sell every day are authentic Apple products, and that our customers don't come back to me to complain about the quality of the products.
A spokeswoman for Apple in China declined to comment on the store sightings.