“‘Sorry Steve, Here’s Why Apple Stores Won’t Work,’ BusinessWeek wrote with great certainty in 2001. ‘It’s desperation time in Cupertino, Calif.,’ opined TheStreet.com. ‘I give [Apple] two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake,’ predicted retail consultant David Goldstein,” Jerry Useem reports for Fortune Magazine.

MacDailyNews Take: We love that Goldstein quote. It’s one of our all-time favorite moron quotes. Sorry, “retail consultant.” Who the hell was Jerry’s guidance counselor, the Marquis de Sade?

Useem continues, “Yet five years later, at 4:15 A.M., a light flickered on. Onlookers were bathed in the milky-white glow of the Apple logo, suspended in a freestanding cube of glass at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South in Manhattan. Dazzling in clarity and 32 feet on a side, the structure was likened variously to a temple, the Louvre Pyramid, Apple’s G4 ‘Cube’ computer, a giant button, and even – in the words of NBC’s Brian Williams – Steve Jobs’ Model T. But it was, everyone could agree, manifestly a store.”

“‘People haven’t been willing to invest this much time and money or engineering in a store before,’ says the Apple CEO, his feet propped on Apple’s boardroom table in Cupertino. ‘It’s not important if the customer knows that. They just feel it. They feel something’s a little different,'” Useem reports.

Useem reports, “And not just the architecture. Saks, whose flagship is down the street, generates sales of $362 per square foot a year. Best Buy stores turn $930 – tops for electronics retailers – while Tiffany & Co. takes in $2,666. Audrey Hepburn liked Tiffany’s for breakfast. But at $4,032, Apple is eating everyone’s lunch.”

“That astonishing number, from a Sanford C. Bernstein report, is merely the average of Apple’s 174 stores, which attract 13,800 visitors a week. (The Fifth Avenue store averages 50,000-plus.) In 2004, Apple reached $1 billion in annual sales faster than any retailer in history; last year, sales reached $1 billion a quarter. And now comes the next, if not must-have, then must-see, product,” Useem reports.

“‘Our stores were conceived and built for this moment in time – to roll out iPhone,’ says Jobs, summoning one to the table with a tantalizing I’ve-got-the-future-in-my-pocket twinkle. If sales are anywhere near expectations – Apple hopes to move ten million iPhones in 2008 – the typical Apple Store could be selling, in absolute terms, as much as a Best Buy, and with just a fraction of the selling space,” Useem reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Apple retail Store locations and info here.