Expansion Plan Now Includes Off-Site Employee Space

September 5, 2012

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.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Nova September 6, 2012 at 0758

Some corrections to the above post:

1. The expansion hasn’t been planned for 2 years. It’s been asked for and needed for about 4 years and only the basement changes have been planned for the 2 years. The rest was finally pushed over the last 6 months or so.

2. The changes on the first floor are for a Briefing Room, much like other Flagships currently have, but no BOH storage space (not enough room).

3. The Theater space on the second floor is still going to be used for workshops, but also accommodate Genius Bar Appointments, One to One sessions, Personal Setup Experiences, and whatever small group or individual training that the store might require. The plush red seats (which weren’t really plush at all) have been removed so that the store can be more nimble in its service oriented aspects. It’s going to be very similar to how Covent Garden and some of the other NEW Flagships operate. This area will NOT be used for product displays, although the current tables for One to One and Personal Setup might be getting reformatted (not a lot of info flying around about that).

4. The renovation should be completed sometime in October, hopefully sooner than later.

5. In regards to the space that CB2 occupies behind the 1 Stockton store, originally Apple wanted that space, and were looking to merge the properties, but come to find out, the back wall of 1 Stockton is part of some sort of ‘historic building’ or some nonsense, so when 1 Stockton was built, Apple wasn’t permitted to tear it down. Originally, 1 Stockton was going to be similar to the size of the North Michigan Ave. store in Chicago.

6. The ‘Offsite Break Room’ isn’t a first, nor is it the first ‘Offsite’ for a street front store. For instance, Palo Alto’s current store on University (not the ridiculous glass one that’s being built), has an offsite that’s about the same size of the store itself.

Also, be careful when speculating about the retail stores. More often than not, IFO has about 1/5 of some of the information, and the parts sometimes don’t match up. And if you’re getting the information from Specialists in the store itself, well, the trickle of information is minimal and changes every week. Only the higher ups at 1 Stockton and the people in Apple’s Store Design departments know fully what’s going on.


Gary September 6, 2012 at 1501

Thanks for the updated (and correct) information about the expansion. I’ve edited my story slightly and pointed to your comment. And I will take your advice about speculation!


Throwthatham September 27, 2012 at 1822

We already have off site break room and no one is happy. You spend part of what should be your down time getting there and then things you may need during your shift( lady stuff) is not where you can access it when you may need it. Right now people are clocking in, hiking to the lockers, and then coming back. Just something else that sends the message about how valued specialists are. Business and GR both have places that they “hide” their stuff so they don’t have to hike to the next state like everyone else.


Edward October 16, 2012 at 1423

The SF flagship store is ridiculously small and always packed. I used to drop in all the time but now can’t stand the limited space. It doesn’t help that there are as many employees as customers.


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