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Store openings have become special events among avid Mac users. Opening day attracts thousands of customers who line up early in the morning or even the night before. The first thousand customers receive a free T-shirt bearing the store's name. Most high-profile stores have more shirts and additional prizes: 1,500 free T-shirts were given away at the Buchanan Street opening in Glasgow; 2,000 free T-shirts at the West 14th Street store in New York City; 2,500 free "Bondi Blue" shirts at the Sydney, Australia store opening; and 5,000 free "La Pyramide Inversée" shirts for the Paris opening fitted in pyramidal boxes. Other attractions include discounts and the so-called "lucky bags" at flagship store openings.[12] The store in Eldon Square Shopping Centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, opened on the 16 February 2010, gave away 1500 free T-shirts, and proved to be one of the most popular stores on the opening day of the 2010 extension of the shopping centre. The flagship store in Shanghai gave away 5,000 unique commemorative T-shirts and free One-to-One memberships for the first 1,000 Mac purchases.[13]

The latest store opened in La Maquinista shopping mall in Barcelona on September 4, 2010.  The new store is Apple's first store in Spain and the largest Apple Store in the world located inside a shopping mall. Apple will open its second Spanish store on September 11, 2010 in Madrid Xanadú shopping mall in Arroyomolinos (Madrid).

Design and history

The Genius Bar at Apple Store Regent Street, London.

The stores sell Apple Macintosh personal computers and software, iPods, iPads, iPhones, third-party accessories, and other consumer electronics such as the Apple TV. Many stores feature a theatre for presentations and workshops, the Studio for training with Apple products, and all stores offer a Genius Bar for technical support and repairs, as well as free workshops available to the public.  The Apple Retail Store design has resulted from the contributions of firms such as Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Eckersley O’Callaghan, Eight Inc., Gensler, and ISP Design, Inc. to name a few, together with the Apple in-house design team.

On May 15, 2001 Steve Jobs led a group of journalists from a hotel in Tysons Corner, Virginia to Apple's first store in the second level of Tysons Corner Center for a commemorative press event.[2] The first two Apple Stores opened on May 19 in Tysons Corner and later the same day in Glendale, California at Glendale Galleria.[3] The first Apple Store with the current layout and hardware (wood tables and stone flooring) opened in Pasadena, California. Apple opened its 200th store on October 26, 2007 in Gilbert, Arizona, 2,251 days after opening its Tysons Corner store.[4] Many stores are located inside shopping malls, but Apple has since built several stand-alone "flagship" stores in high-profile locations. Flagship stores have opened in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Tokyo, Osaka, London, Sydney, Perth, Montreal, Munich, Zurich, Paris, Beijing, Glasgow, Honululu, Boston and Shanghai. 

Each store is designed to suit the needs of the location and regulatory authorities. Apple has received numerous architectural awards for its store designs, particularly its midtown Manhattan location.[5][6]

Originally, Apple Stores contained a dedicated point of sale station, however in 2006, Apple began introducing a new store layout and design with metallic walls and backlit signage. The new store design replaced the dedicated point of sale station with the handheld EasyPay system. However, a dedicated point of sale station still exists in most of these stores to facilitate transactions not paid for by credit card.[7][8] The Regent Street store has more Point of Sale terminals than any other store. Only Flagship stores have a dedicated Point of Sale all other stores will have a POS behind the Genius Bar to handle transactions which cannot be processed via EasyPay. Apple has recently changed their EasyPay systems to operate on iPod Touch instead of the previous Windows-based system. The iPods feature a custom housing, the Infinite Peripherals Linēa-Pro barcode scanner and card reader, to allow the same transactions on the iPod.

The Apple Store in Regent Street London was the first to open in Europe in November 2004. It is the most profitable shop in London with the highest sales per square foot, taking £60,000,000 pa, or £2,000 per square foot .[9]  The Regent Street store was surpassed in size by the nearby Apple Store in Covent Garden, which is currently the biggest Apple store in the world.[citation needed]