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Apple sets up 5,000-square-foot temporary store at SXSW to sell new iPads, test potential traffic

It appears that Apple is toying with a novel idea calling for small retail stores that can be built quickly nearby high-trafficked shows and conference locations. The company would literally lease the spot for a couple of weeks to sell its gadgets to showgoers. More importantly, such trial runs also enable Apple to test sales performance for an eventual permanent store in the future. More on that after the break.


According to a Statesman report, Apple will tomorrow open one such store in the Scarbrough Building on Congress Avenue downtown to sell the newly released iPad 2 to the folks attending South by Southwest Interactive Conference (SXSW). The so-called popup store will occupy the 5,000-square-foot space, confirmed Rance Wilemon, a partner in Plat. Form Real Estate which leases that area.

He said Apple moved quickly to secure the spot: “They came in town on Monday, did a quick tour, found a spot, and they’re in there working and will open by Friday,” adding Apple is “just a great draw.”

This trial run suggests Apple, which already operates two stores in Austin, Wilemon, could be interested to open a full-fledged brick-and-mortar store there, but they may just as well want to be a part of the music, film and interactive event, which is their natural habitat. Either way, Apple’s location choice is interesting, to say the least. The building, which was established by merchant E. M. Scarbrough, had become the finest department store in Texas during the early twentieth century.

The “Scarbrough’s”, as it was locally known, features distinct Chicago style construction which is today only evident in its cornice and upper floor windows. In 1916, a full basement and the south part were added, and 1931 saw a significant exterior redesigned to give it the Art Deco look. Even by today’s standards, the building is still one of the city’s landmark locations – just the kind of spots Apple prefers for its high-profile retail operations.


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