Everyone knows what Apple Stores look like: gleaming monoliths of glass and stainless steel. But what about the employees-only areas? We’ve collected some rare photos of the parts of Apple Stores that the public never gets to see.
The part of Apple Stores known as “back-of-house” may not be as exciting as the retail floor or as impressive as Apple HQ in California, but it’s off limits to the public. And like so much of Apple’s internal workings, that forbidden quality makes it fascinating because of what it reveals about how Apple Stores work. Let’s take a look at some of the different areas in the back-of-house.
The Genius Room
In every Apple Store back-of-house, there is a very important room designated as the Genius Room. As you’ve probably guessed, the Genius Room is the repair room. It’s where the Genius Bar workers take your computer, phone, or tablet to repair it while you wait. In general, the Genius Room has desks, lots of shelves, several working Macs, and dozens of bins holding tools and spare parts.
Employee Break Room
Like most retail stores, there’s a small area in the back of Apple Stores where employees can take their breaks, if they want to stay on the premises. Also like most retail stores, the break room is nothing fancy, with a few sparse pieces of furniture and little more. On the plus side, there are iMacs for employees to use while eating lunch (or whatever).
Some for-sale items are kept on the retail floor, in semi-concealed cabinets under those trademark wood tables. But the majority of products that are sold through Apple Stores come from the back-of-house, more specifically from the storage or warehouse area. These storage areas vary in size according to the size of the store, with bigger stores like the 5th Avenue glass cube in New York laying claim to large warehouse spaces rigged with complex, movable shelves. Each shelf’s contents are meticulously cataloged, each piece of inventory carefully tracked. [All of the photos in this section -- and a few elsewhere -- come from the excellent ifoAppleStore.com, which covers all aspects of Apple Store-related news.]
Every retail store needs supplies for cleaning, demo products, and other miscellaneous items. Apple Stores keep their supplies in back-of-house bins that are just as neatly organized as you’d expect.
Some larger Apple Stores have dedicated rooms just for business customers. Part lounge, part meeting room, this private area of the store isn’t technically part of the “back-of-house,” but since it’s off-limits to the public, I thought it was worth including here.
Here’s a pair of miscellaneous pictures from Apple Stores back-of-house.
And then… there’s this. Late in 2011, footage leaked out of an unidentified Apple Store that appeared to be a training video for new employees. There was some confusion over whether or not Apple sanctioned the video — made all the more awkward because it features a lame rap song using Apple’s employee rules for its lyrics — but it was ultimately proven to be a personal project recorded by an employee of the store. All traces of the video seem to have been yanked from the Net since then, but a handful of screengrabs provide a few final glimpses into Apple Stores’ back-of-house.