When Shane Williams opened his first MacSuperstore 16 years ago in San Luis Obispo, Calif., Google was a word only a few kids at Stanford knew; the soon-to-be-iconic iMac was born and Steve Jobs, who had been fired by Apple a decade before, was about to make his triumphant return.
Apple’s resurgence meant the opening of two more MacSuperstores along the West Coast — in Monterey and Santa Barbara — before Williams provided an opportunity for southern Coloradans to take a bite out of his big idea.
The third-party Apple pusher opened its fourth store in 2008 along Powers Boulevard, then moved to its current location at University Village on North Nevada two years ago.
It’s from that spot that Sales Manager Victoria Houston and Service Manager William Franceschi, along with their staff of 10, dispense, explain and fix the fruits of Apple’s labor.
“We run the gamut of services,” Franceschi said. “We transfer data, offer repairs both in-warranty and out-of-warranty. We do on-site setup, consultations and maintenance.”
All but iPhones
The business, which is both an Apple-authorized reseller and service provider, offers new and pre-owned Apple products with the exception of iPhones, Houston said, adding those aren’t available because the shop doesn’t offer wireless contracts.
Franceschi said the store’s affiliation with Apple “ensures repairs are done using genuine Apple parts” and that the store has “strict guidelines that we have to adhere to to ensure customers are getting timely and accurate service.”
Franceschi said technicians put used equipment through a 50-point inspection before it goes on the sales floor.
“We don’t want anything going out there that we wouldn’t buy ourselves,” he said.
Additionally, the business provides training, including iPad bootcamps with as many as 30 participants, down to individualized classes.
Basic classes are free to the public, and one doesn’t need to have made a purchase from the store to join in, Franceschi said, adding those courses involve understanding Apple’s operating system, securing information and utilizing Cloud storage.
One-on-one classes run $30 an hour and involve tutoring in virtually any aspect of Apple products and capabilities.
“One cool thing about our training is it’s service after the sale,” Franceschi said. “You don’t get that at a lot of places. Once you’ve purchased the product, we want to make sure you know how to use it.”
Franceschi said the store offers about two classes a week, and a qualified trainer is on-site Monday through Friday during regular business hours to assist customers.
“Each person has a unique use for their Mac,” he said, “so we make sure they have the tools to use it effectively.”
Fish in a barrel
Being affiliated with a brand like Apple makes marketing a snap, Houston said. And while the brand’s secretive product launches stir the anticipation of brand loyalists, that secrecy can make for unorthodox marketing. Whether a corporate Apple store or a third-party affiliate, Houston said retailers often don’t know what products they’ll be selling each month.
“We don’t get a lot of advanced notice on announcements,” Franceschi said. “Usually when the public knows is when we know.”
Houston said she isn’t sure, for instance, whether the MacSuperstore will be authorized to sell the new Apple Watch, which is expected to launch this month. The watch is linked to the iPhone, which may create conflicts with wireless providers. She said products approved for sale by third-party affiliates arrive at the MacSuperstore within a month of production.
She said that at one time it may have been difficult for Apple-affiliated stores to market products because of a lack of information prior to a launch, but the brand has such a following today that marketing takes place organically.
“It’s a solid product. The name alone speaks for itself,” Houston said. “What they put out holds its value and you don’t have the issues you might with PCs.”
The MacSuperstore’s big-name affiliation also means tech support directly from Apple, Franceschi said.
“We get access to their support administrators and trouble-shooting, and we order parts directly through Apple; we don’t use a third party,” he said.
Houston explained that one reason for Apple’s success — and as an extension, the success of the MacSuperstore — is the brand’s appeal to the consumer at large.
“Something Apple does well is they don’t [target] a certain demographic,” she said. “They sell a product that is for everybody and for everyday use.
“They sell life. It’s like their commercials. It’s all emotional. I think that’s where they make a connection that a lot of other brands don’t. That’s why we have 10-year-olds to 90-year-olds [visit the store.]”
Established locally: 2008
Local employees: 12
Address: 5020 N. Nevada Ave., #150; 434-4770