It's all there – the sleek, white display and the friendly and knowledgeable clerks with the Apple logo on their shirts – even advertisements for the iPad 2 and a wall of hi-tech accessories. The only problem? It's all fake.
The store isn't really authorized by Apple – not even as a retailer – and was unknown to the company until it was revealed through photos by a blogger named BirdAbroad. The store was located in Kunming, China, calling it "the best ripoff store [my husband and I] have ever seen."
Apple's actual growth in China has been tepid at best. Only four stores have opened in two different cities, according to The Wall Street Journal. BirdAbroad wrote that one of the most interesting aspects of the store was that the employees believed that they were actual employees of Apple, but a separate article from the publication found out that this may not be the case.
"It doesn't make much of a difference for us whether we're authorized or not," an employee told The Journal. "I just care 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."
BirdAbroad noted that there are other fake Apple stores in China – some of which are in the same area as the one that originally generated the controversy. One even has a misspelled name, "Apple Stoer."
Apple has declined to comment on the subject so far, but the story has been a big one. BirdAbroad said that her blog had gotten more than one million since she originally posted the story, according to The People's Daily. She even asked others to send her pictures of other fake Apple stores and received photos of retail outlets based in Vietnam, Costa Rica and Caracas.