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Apple Turning Retail Stores Into ‘Town Squares’

The iPhone X, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, Apple Watch Series 3, and Apple TV 4K were the stars of Apple's big media event yesterday, but the Cupertino tech giant also shared some updates for what it deems its "largest products" — its retail stores.

Speaking on stage at the new Steve Jobs Theatre, Apple's senior vice president of retail and online stores, Angela Ahrendts, said the company no longer calls its retail stores "stores." Apple now refers to them as "town squares."

Going forward, Apple plans to create a plaza at some of its largest retail locations where people can go to "relax, meet up with friends, or just listen to a local artist on the weekends," Ahrendts said. Larger stores will also have a quieter space called a board room where people can go for business meetings.

Apple is also moving its tech support services to what it calls a "Genius Grove," which will be centrally located in the company's largest stores, offering a more relaxed environment than the Genius Bars of today.

Ahrendts said that 500 million people visit Apple retail locations each year. They're "places where everyone's welcome," she said.

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The Cupertino tech giant is gearing up to open its newest store, located on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, on Oct. 20. In New York City, Apple plans to revamp its iconic Fifth Ave store, where it will be "opening up the plaza, to allow natural sunlight to come in into a greatly expanded space below," Ahrendts said.

As part of its retail plans, Apple is also restoring a historic building on iconic Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, transforming a theatre beneath Piazza Liberty in Milan, and restoring Carnegie Library in Washington, D.C.

"Apple retail has always been about more than selling," Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the event. "It's about learning, inspiring, and connecting with people."

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