Documenting the overlooked craft of temporary Apple stores

No retailer wants to close a store — even temporarily. Closures mean lost sales, disruptions to service, and a negative customer experience. As Apple’s stores have steadily grown in popularity over the past 17 years, renovations and expansions to keep up with increased traffic have necessitated temporary closures from time to time. In locations without nearby alternatives or where construction work is estimated to be time-consuming, Apple has implemented temporary stores to ease the transition.

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Temporary stores often pop up with little notice or fanfare. The spaces are strictly meant to bridge the gap during a store redesign and aren’t celebrated. Yet, these makeshift spaces reveal Apple’s extraordinary attention to detail. Even though both their construction time and useful life are short, temporary stores attempt to provide a familiar retail atmosphere. Identical tables and fixtures are built for each space. Signage and branding remain consistent and of similar quality to full-size stores. Apple spares little expense to provide the best experience they can even under cramped or less-than-ideal circumstances.

When remodeling is complete, these short-term spaces vanish literally overnight. Overshadowed by the splendor of an all-new store, they’re forgotten almost as quickly as they were realized, slipping into the pages of history. Seldom well-documented in photos or writing, we’ve scoured the archives to catalog each temporary store and recognize an overlooked retail craft.

Temporary Flagship Stores

Few flagship Apple stores have ever operated out of temporary spaces, but those that have are among Apple’s most ambitious projects and needed to be equipped to handle significant foot traffic.

Photos: Gary Allen

Apple SoHo

Open: October 22, 2011–July 13, 2012

New York City’s first Apple store, SoHo, originally opened in 2002 and was due for a big upgrade nearly a decade later. Due to the extended length of remodeling and the popularity of the store, Apple chose to open a massive temporary location nearby at 72 Greene St. The space featured an industrial, upscale warehouse interior design with exposed brick walls, a wood and steel staircase, and Corinthian columns.

When SoHo’s regular store reopened nearly one year later, it had been completely redesigned with a new Genius Bar and Briefing Room, updated glass staircase, and an expanded theater.

Photos: courtesy of Storeteller

Apple Regent Street

Open: September 4, 2015–June 12, 2016

During a monumental and extensive Foster + Partners redesign of London’s Regent Street store, Apple built a temporary space underneath the regular store as to not inconvenience customers. With standard white walls, wood floors, and a blacked out ceiling, the basement store was consistent with smaller temporary spaces design-wise, but considerably larger than average in terms of floor space.

Regent Street’s short-term space took many forms throughout construction. Beginning in June 2015, half of the store’s first floor was walled off, requiring customers to enter on the right side of the building. Later, the entire second floor was closed.

By early September, Apple had entirely closed the main store to the public, building a small entrance just inside the front door with a staircase leading downstairs. It was this underground space that handled the launch of the iPhone 6s. The building’s four signature arched windows were covered by inset white panels, allowing the lighted Apple logos and window displays to remain. Later, the logos were removed and the windows were entirely covered.

Before the redesigned store reopened on October 15, 2016, Apple closed its temporary location during final restoration work, and a towering wall was constructed around the historic building for the remaining months.

Photos: Shinya Suzuki

Apple Fifth Avenue

Open: January 20, 2017–Present

Apple first announced in early 2017 that its iconic Fifth Avenue glass cube store in New York City would be closing for renovations. In its place, a gigantic temporary store opened next door in the former home of toy store FAO Schwarz. As of publication, the store remains open and is Apple’s most significant temporary retail project to date.

The building’s public areas span two floors at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 58th St. A large balcony on the upper level overlooks product tables below. While the space is unmistakably nonstandard, Apple has put significant effort into including all of the essential fixtures needed to accommodate major product launches at the busy store. Space has even been set aside upstairs to host Today at Apple sessions.

At last September’s keynote at Steve Jobs Theater, retail SVP Angela Ahrendts gave an update on the project, saying it would be completed in late 2018.

Standard and Mini Temporary Stores

Apple’s temporary store projects began from a need to quickly increase store capacity without disrupting customer sales and service. The earliest temporary stores began opening in waves around 2007 and were typically built within the boundaries of Apple’s existing locations. In each case, the majority of the space was walled off and a miniature version of the store (not to be confused with actual mini stores) would be quickly constructed to operate while work was completed on the rest of the space.

Near the end of the process, the entire store would close altogether to remodel the remaining area, and a few weeks later, the redesigned space was revealed. In later years, renovation projects became more in-depth and aging stores required larger upgrades. Modern temporary stores typically operate out of an entirely separate storefront.

Note: Operating dates listed below have been sourced from best available information, but may vary where marked. Stores names are listed in order of original grand opening date, and correspond with the photo above each listing.

Before and after temporary store renovations. (Have a photo to contribute?)

Apple Glendale Galleria

Open: July 19, 2007– ~November 2007

Apple Crossgates

Open: September 1, 2015–February 26, 2016 (Photo)

Apple Westfarms

Open: June 9, 2014–July 11, 2014 (Photo)

Apple Kenwood Town Centre

Open: May 28, 2012–October 19, 2012 (Photo 1, Photo 2)

Apple Walden Galleria

Open: October 1, 2015–March 18, 2016 (Photo)

Apple The Falls

Open: July 21, 2007– ~November 2007 (Photos)

The world premiere of Mac OS X Leopard at Apple stores occurred while Miami’s store was operating out of a tiny temporary space.

Apple Fashion Valley

Open: March 19, 2007–June 15, 2007 (Photo)

Apple Valley Fair

Open: July 21, 2007–November 16, 2007 (Photos)

Apple South Coast Plaza

Open: ~July 2007–November 2007 (Photo)

(No photo—Have one to contribute?)

Apple Short Hills

Open: ~July 2007–October 28, 2007

Before closing entirely for just under three weeks to finish remodeling work, Apple Short Hills operated in its original space with a reduced footprint during the second half of 2007.

Apple West County

Open: ~February 2016–June 24, 2016 (Photo)

Apple Houston Galleria

Open: March 10, 2007– ~June 2007 (Photo)

Open: June 16, 2014–October 10, 2014 (Photo)

Apple’s store at The Galleria in Houston is one of only a few to ever operate out of temporary spaces twice. The first tiny store was luckily no longer needed by the time crowds lined up for the original iPhone’s launch. The second, located in another part of the mall, handled the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Apple Somerset

Open: March 10, 2007–June 1, 2007

Open: August 4, 2011–November 18, 2011 (Photo)

Like in Houston, Troy, Michigan’s Apple store also inhabited two different temporary spaces. The first was a downsized location during the first half of 2007. The second helped bridge customer demand during the release of the iPhone 4s in 2011.

Apple Millenia

Open: January 27, 2007– ~April 7, 2007

Open: May 29, 2012–November 9, 2012 (Photo 1, Photo 2)

A brief renovation at Apple Millenia in early 2007 necessitated a downsizing within the bounds of the existing store. In 2012, a more substantial remodel saw Apple temporarily relocate again, this time to another space in the mall.

Apple Fashion Show

Open: July 1, 2013–November 15, 2013 (Photo 1, Photo 2)

Apple Pasadena

Open: April 18, 2011–February 3, 2012 (Photos)

During extensive remodeling two doors down, Apple converted a former apparel store in Pasadena into a rather impressive temporary space. The Art Deco building mirrored Apple’s regular store with tastefully restrained fabric signage and used the original storefront windows for product displays. Exposed brick walls ran the length of the store.

Apple Knox Street

Open: January 31, 2011–November 24, 2011

For a closure that spanned the majority of 2011, Apple set up a notably large temporary space just around the corner from its under-construction storefront. The nonstandard building was where customers were first introduced to the iPad 2. One fan set up a tent and camped outside for launch day.

Apple Walt Whitman

Open: ~May 29, 2012–November 30, 2012 (Photo)

Apple Ala Moana

Open: ~Jun 29, 2011–November 18, 2011 (Photos)

Apple Chestnut Hill

Open: ~November 12, 2015–March 25, 2016 (Photo)

Apple University Village

Open: August 8, 2008–October 5, 2008 (Photo)

This past summer’s opening of a radically new and foliage-filled store wasn’t Apple’s first renovation project at Seattle’s University Village. A scaled down store was created inside the building’s normal footprint following the release of the iPhone 3G.

Apple Christiana Mall

Open: ~July 2, 2012–November 22, 2012 (Photo 1, Photo 2)

Christiana Mall’s Apple has store has expanded twice since first opening in 2004, but operated in a temporary space only once. While the finished store’s entry is accessible through the interior of the mall, Apple’s temporary store had an exterior entrance.

Apple Danbury Fair Mall

Open: ~February 5, 2017–July 7, 2017 (Photo)

Apple occupied a unit directly behind its existing store for temporary operations during the expansion at the Danbury Fair Mall.

Apple Jordan Creek

Open: April 13, 2016–September 30, 2016 (Photos)

Apple Jordan Creek is the company’s only store in Iowa, so opening a temporary store during remodeling was essential to providing continuous service to customers.

Apple Penn Square

Open: April 18, 2016–November 18, 2016 (Photo)

Apple Trafford Centre

Open: August 10, 2010–November 23, 2010 (Photo)

Apple Meadowhall

Open: ~November 4, 2016–September 21, 2017 (Photo)

Sheffield’s temporary store closed and Apple revealed its remodeled store just in time for the launch of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

Apple Brent Cross

Open: ~August 27, 2013–December 4, 2015 (Photo)

Apple’s temporary store at the Brent Cross Shopping Centre was unique due to its longevity. The space was in use for over two years during which retail SVP Angela Ahrendts joined Apple and an entirely new store design philosophy was unveiled. Since the store’s renovation presumably started months before Ahrendts began her tenure, it’s technically possible that early remodeling work was scrapped altogether and restarted. The finished store fully embraces Apple’s latest design sensibilities.

Apple Eaton Centre

Open: August 16, 2008–November 21, 2008 (Photo)

Toronto’s second Apple store was only a little more than two years old when it received a major remodel requiring a temporary downsizing.

Apple Sherway Gardens

Open: May 29, 2012–October 26, 2012 (Photo)

Apple Carrefour Laval

Open: ~September 4, 2012–February 15, 2013 (Photo)

After renovations were completed in early 2013, Apple Carrefour Laval maintained a similar appearance until late this summer and into fall, when Today at Apple upgrades brought a Video Wall and Forum. Less intrusive than a full remodel, a full store closure or temporary location was not necessary.

Apple Manchester Arndale

Open: ~May 26, 2012–September 7, 2012 (Photo)

Like at Carrefour Laval, Manchester’s store was first upgraded again throughout this past September with new tables, a Video Wall, and a modern Forum. The store remained open during construction.

Apple Bentall Centre

Open: February 20, 2012–June 1, 2012 (Photo 1, Photo 2)

Apple Glattzentrum

Open: July 31, 2014–November 21, 2014 (Photos)

With an original opening date of September 26, 2008, Glattzentrum is Apple’s newest store to date to move to a temporary location during renovation. It’s also the only temporary Apple store to ever operate out of a open-air kiosk. Resembling the Apple shops located inside many Best Buy stores, Apple occupied a central atrium of Zurich’s Glatt Shopping Mall for several months in 2014.

Pop-Up Shops and Events

Photo: Marcelo Somers

Apple Store, SXSW

Open: March 11, 2011–March 20, 2011

For the launch of the iPad 2, Apple opened a pop-up store in Austin, Texas that coincided with the 2011 South by Southwest Festival nearby. The store sold only iPads and related accessories, and operated only during the festival’s official dates.

Apple secured a short-term lease in Austin’s Scarbrough building and quickly assembled a space that appeared almost as polished as a permanent store. Complete with standard Apple tables, displays, graphic panels, and shelving, the store was a hit and saw long lines upon opening. Media coverage of the pop-up shop dominated SXSW in 2011.

Apple Watch at Selfridges

Open: April 10, 2015–January 3, 2017

For a radically new product like the Apple Watch, Apple saw it fitting to open a series of special shops dedicated to the Apple Watch try-on and purchase experience. Each shop was located in an upscale department store and featured a blend of Apple’s typical retail fixtures and unique elements not found in typical stores. Some of these design ideas informed future retail designs.

At Selfridges in London, extended product tables and rows of Forum trees comprised Apple’s Watch shop. Outside, Apple took over the department store’s windows to showcase stunning art installations featuring the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch at Galeries Lafayette

Open: April 10, 2015–January 21, 2017

In Paris, Apple assembled freestanding display cases and tables on a balcony overlooking the store’s dome. Both the Galeries Lafayette and Selfridges moved out in January 2017.

Apple Watch at Isetan Shinjuku

Open: April 10, 2015–May 13, 2018

In Shinjuku, a special ward of Tokyo, Apple’s Watch shop was housed at the Isetan department store. The surreal space used entirely black wall, ceiling, and floor materials to stunning effect. The Isetan shop was the last of Apple’s pop-ups remaining when it closed on May 13, 2018.

Photos: Dezeen

Apple Watch at Salone del Mobile

Open: April 17, 2015

To promote the original Apple Watch, Apple also opened a one day pop-up exhibition in Milan, Italy during the annual Salone del Mobile, a world-renowned furniture and design fair. The pop-up was timed to occur exactly one week before the Apple Watch release date.

For the 10 hour event, Apple took over the Carlo e Camilla en Segheria restaurant and set up a showroom featuring Apple Watch display and try on tables. A custom entrance pavilion with Apple Watch branding, sleek white walls, and softbox ceiling panels was built to guide guests inside. The structure and showroom were built on a Thursday night, open on Friday, and taken down in time for the restaurant to reopen Saturday evening.

Right photo: CBS

Apple September 2014 Event

Open: September 9, 2014

Recent large Apple keynotes have featured increasingly grand product displays and hands-on rooms. Before the completion of Steve Jobs Theater in 2017, Apple relied on renting public venues for events too large to host at Infinite Loop’s Town Hall.

For the introduction of the original Apple Watch and iPhone 6, Apple built a massive temporary structure adjacent to Cupertino’s Flint Center for the Performing Arts. The impressive demo room not only signified the importance of the event, but started a trend of custom, one-day event pavilions at future keynotes.

Apple March 2015 Event

Open: March 9, 2015

Apple’s “Spring Forward” event in March 2015 was hosted at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. A separate hands-on room was constructed adjacent to the main auditorium to display the 12-MacBook and every model of the Apple Watch.

Photo: Shara Tibken

Apple September 2015 Event

Open: September 9, 2015

The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was Apple’s venue of choice to introduce the original iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, iPhone 6s, and more. The temporary demo room featured an atrium dotted with iPads and iPhones on white pedestals, an extensive collection of Apple Watch bands, and dedicated spaces designed to sit and watch the 4th-generation Apple TV.

Photo: John Gruber / Daring Fireball

Apple September 2016 Event

Open: September 7, 2016

In 2016, the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium hosted Apple’s September event once again. A stark white hallway reminiscent of a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey led guests from the auditorium to the custom hands-on room.

Looking Ahead

The future of temporary stores as a part of Apple’s retail strategy is unclear. Modern stores are more ambitious and costly than ever before, and replicating the experience on a short-term basis is much more difficult than in years past. As Today at Apple becomes central to the Apple retail experience, the Forum and Video Wall form the core of each store. Installing these fixtures is a significant investment of both time and money, and so far, Apple has chosen to model temporary spaces on the design of classic stores.

If you have photos of temporary stores throughout the years you’d like to share, drop us a line. Follow along with 9to5Mac‘s retail guide for more Apple store news.

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Avatar for Michael Steeber Michael Steeber

I’m a Creative Editor passionate about Apple Retail and design. My stories highlight the work of talented artists, designers, and customers through a unique lens of architecture, creativity, and community.

Twitter: @MichaelSteeber