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SCxpBrussel

What about Apple?

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Early this year, The State ran an article saying that representatives from Apple had been in town looking at locations for a retail location in Columbia. One of the rumored locations was in the development with the new Five Points' Walgreens. The article hinted that we'd know by May, but nothing ever happened.

During this past summer, the Walgreens flooded several times, sparking another article in The State about design of the new buildings. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple nixed this location because of the flooding issue. This begs the question: if not Five Points, where? Harbison? Sandhills? Lady St.?

There is little doubt Columbia could support an Apple Store. Charleston has had one for years, and now both Augusta and Greenville have them as well. With the decision between Harbison and the Sandhills being so difficult, perhaps Apple will instead build a non-mall location in the city center. Five Points seems like a natural fit, although Apple usually likes striking architecture for its stand-alone retail stores, something that is few and far between in that area. Lady St. in the Vista is another contender, but secretly I am hoping Apple is biding its time for the Mast General Store construction to make progress and may follow the trendsetting general store to Main St. This is a longshot, but would be an incredible boon for Columbia's core, I can't help but dream. There is a lot of 'buzz' around Mast and the regenerative effect in the vicinity of its stores.

Does anyone else have any thoughts about how and when Apple will finally come to Columbia?

Edited by SCxpBrussel

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I heard on the news that they have also considered Main Street and the Village at Sandhill. I vote for Main Street. They would do great across the street from Mast General. A building there that just received landmark status is being up-fitted inside. Who knows.

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It would be a major coup for Apple to locate on Main Street. I wouldn't hold my breath on it though.

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There has been significant progress on getting stores to Columbia as established brands like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Urban Outfitter's add stores around the city. That said, Apple is more of a global brand. There might be a business case for penetrating smaller markets, but I think Tim Cook is more focused on growth in China and other developing markets as evidenced by the smaller versions of its most popular products. Any expansion in Columbia would really be a secondary effort since they seem to be much more focused on fueling growth in less mature markets than the US. I have a feeling this might linger for a couple years just like the three stores mentioned above did. It's not for lack of demand, it is just not a major focus for the company.

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I'm not sure about that. It seems like the most coveted retail brands tend to follow each other and in Columbia's case, it seems that Whole Foods has opened up the floodgates. At this point, I'm sure that other retailers like Apple are taking note.

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I don't think Apple would delay because they don't see Columbia as a viable market. Rather, I think they are focusing their efforts to expand in underdeveloped markets and deepening their presence in established US cities. I was on the Q4 investors call when they announced that Apple is only planning to build 10 stores in the US in 2014. Given that at least two of them are in DC and a few more have been announced, I have a feeling Columbia won't land an Apple store this year. That said, I would love to be wrong.

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