The competition for sales space has become so severe at the San Francisco (N. Calif.) Apple retail store that expansion plans now include moving employee break rooms and administrative offices to a building up the street, freeing up space for a Briefing Room and more product display tables. The expansion has been planned for at least two years, but finally began the first week of August with the closing of the upstairs presentation theater. Lately, visitors to the basement of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) Building have noticed construction work, including installation of partitions, walls, new lighting and a fire alarm system. Building permits issued last month confirm construction in the basement of 55 Stockton Street, just four doors north of the Apple store, or about a 50-second walk for store employees. The permits show the work is valued at $210,000. According to sources, the space will eventually include standard break room gear consisting of employee lockers, microwave, sink and seating. The space may also include some office areas. Back at the store, the freed-up space will be used for business retail and administrative space on the ground floor. As revealed earlier, the empty theater space on the upper level will be used for customer interaction areas, including Genius visits and One to One training. The off-site construction should be finished soon, but it’s not clear if the store expansion will be finished before the holiday shopping season.
Several of Apple’s mall stores have remote product storage and break rooms, but this would be among the few street-level stores with off-site facilities (the Palo Alto store south of San Francisco is among them). The store opened in 2004 at a key intersection of the city, occupying nearly 11,000 square-feet of space on three levels. When it opened, the store had 70 employees. Since then—like other stores in the chain—visitor traffic has increased, and so has the employee count, now at about 350. The dual increases have put pressure on the store’s square-footage.
When the store opened, there was a vacant building directly west of the store parcel that could have been used for back-of-house space (see comment below for some history about this). Since 2004, the original store has been demolished and a new structure erected. It is occupied by
Download (pdf) the permits for a description of the construction.