Steve Jobs announced Apple’s efforts to create a unified retail experience in 2001, opening the company’s first stores in McLean, VA and Glendale, CA. Apple stores quickly grew in number, climbing to over 500 in 2018. In recent years, Apple has focused on increasing its retail presence internationally, opening many stores in China, Japan, and Europe.
In 2013, Apple announced that former fashion CEO Angela Ahrendts would be leading the company’s retail efforts. Apple stores were previously under the leadership of former Target merchandiser Ron Johnson, and shortly by John Browett, a tumultuous time marked by internal controversy.
Under the leadership of Angela Ahrendts and increased design direction from Jony Ive, Apple has been rolling out a new retail design since 2015. As part of the new direction, the company has dropped the word “store” from its vocabulary and refers to flagship locations as “town squares.” Much of the next-generation Apple retail experience is structured around “Today At Apple”, a program of community events designed to help Apple customers learn about and get the most out of their devices.