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Apple store set to open on Berkeley’s Fourth Street

Apple's Bay Street store, which is 2.7 miles from Berkeley's Fourth Street. Photo: Flickr Commons.

Apple will open one of its sleek retail operations on Fourth Street in Berkeley, according to sources close to the negotiations.

The computer giant will take over the former Slater Marinoff space at 1823 Fourth Street, currently being used by Ford Motor Co. as a pop-up store, and will probably open around March next year, according to several reliable independent sources who asked that their names not be used.

Nobody at Apple or in the City of Berkeley would comment on the news.

“I can neither confirm nor deny that,” said Michael Caplan, Berkeley’s economic development manager.

Apple would not corroborate the speculation either. Spokesperson Amy Barney said: “We’ve made no announcements about a store in that location.” Asked whether Apple planned to, she replied: “We don’t comment on rumors and speculation.” Calls to Denny Abrams, who manages Fourth Street’s retail operations, were not returned.

A number of sources, including some Fourth Street merchants and other business owners, told Berkeleyside they had heard that Apple was coming to town.

The closest Apple store to Berkeley is at 5656 Bay Street in Emeryville which is 2.7 miles away from the Fourth Street space.

The arrival of a blue-chip brand such as Apple in one of Berkeley’s prime retail districts will provide a significant morale and economic boost for the city which has seen retail sales drop by nearly $200 million over the past two years.

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  • Bryan

    Cool, it’ll be nice to not have to take my Apple products to Emeryville anymore when they need service. Getting to Bay Street from Berkeley is a bit of a pain without a car.

  • Mark Ingraham

    Did anyone writing this story ever think to say where Berkeley is?

  • http://ryantate.com Ryan

    Great scoop Tracey. Kudos.

  • FreeJeff

    It would make a lot more sense for them to put a store in downtown Berkeley. You’ve got 36,000 university students and faculty on one side, and thousands of high school students on the other side, just two blocks apart. They all want Macs, iPods, iPhones, and whatever other iWonder Apple comes out with next. It’s so obvious, I’ve wondered for years why Apple doesn’t do it.

  • Bryan

    @FreeJeff

    I agree, it would be better downtown. However, it seems Apple usually prefers to place these stores in shopping areas that are a little more “high end” like 4th street.

    On the other hand though, having it downtown would probably put our local third-party Mac store that’s already there out of business.

  • http://www.tktaylor.com Tracey Taylor

    Mark Ingraham: Apologies if it wasn’t clear to you where Berkeley was — it’s Berkeley, California.

    The reason we did not spell that out is that Berkeleyside, which broke this story, is a news site that reports on Berkeley, CA.

  • Sotto Voce

    Would love to have seen them move to downtown Shattuck area. Much more campus and BHS access without driving, and would bring other business to nearby retailers. Fourth St. is great, but doesn’t need more business, and is less accessible by transit. Still happy about the new neighbors though.

  • http://berkeleyhomes.com/blog Ira Serkes

    Mixed feelings … I’m a huge fan of Wai and the the crew of MAC at 2010 Shattuck Shattuck in downtown Berkeley … and hope this news brings them more sales too.

    http://www.macberkeley.com/

    That said, I love the idea of more people shopping within Berkeley, and increased sales revenues for the City. I’ve been to the Apple Stores in London, Beijing, and Tokyo … will be nice to add Berkeley to the set.

    Wonder if someone will start a “Keep Apple Out Of Berkeley” movement?

  • lee

    I feel sad for downtown berkeley this would have been a great destination place. Maybe the downtown berkeley merchants association should hire the guys behind fourth street to turn around downtown berkeley. 36k stduents within blocks and they still can’t get a store in downtown, especially apple. Also wouldn’t have the store downtown be a bit greener with less people clogging up 4th street

  • Elmwood Neighbor

    Those 36k students can just hop on the 51B (using their class pass) and be at the new Fourth Street Apple Store in about 15 minutes.

  • Eric Panzer

    I would have liked to see this store in Downtown as well, but given what I’ve heard about the travails of opening a business there, (horror stories of “patrons” defecating in dressing rooms–yes, this I was told), I can’t really blame them for opting for 4th Street.

  • http://tristantom.com Phototristan

    Sigh. Isn’t parking bad enough there already?

  • DC

    It could also be simply an issue of square footage availability and ease of construction. It is much more complicated to take multiple small spaces (if they are even available from the same Landlord, and adjacent), and combine them – combining utility services, and often having to deal with access and grade transition issues – than it is simply to take an existing retail space of adequate size and remodel it for one’s needs.

    I’ve been working in retail construction for 20+ years, and I see the space on 4th street as far superior, simply from a development POV. There may of course be many other factors – cost, adjacent tenants, lease structure, etc – but the development factors alone are enough to prefer the 4th street space.

  • Alan Tobey

    Fourth Street has succeeded in part because it’s close to the freeway and attractive/comfortable to suburban-minded shoppers (quite a few of whom accidentally live in Berkeley). Neither of those factors hold downtown. When I worked at Center/Shattuck I kept seeing suburban “ladies who lunch” emerge from BART and jump right into a cab for Chez Panisse, rather than having any part of our actual downtown.

    Since the site will be faster to access from I-80 than the even-more-faux-suburban Bay Street — and doesn’t universally charge for lot parking — its success seems assured.

    Opening just in time for the expected release of the Verizon-compatible iPhone, so perhaps just some extra sales bandwidth for the extra business.

  • Peter Manso

    Yipeee!

  • Deb

    Perhaps the employees will be less creepy than at the Emeryville store. Hope so.
    However, it seems the Mac/Apple business model is just customer-unfriendly. At least in Emeryville, they make it difficult to pay cash–often the line to pay is insanely long. They place a lot of their items very high up on shelves, without even making the prices easily visible. Not enough employees to help with accessing the items. Hope the Berkeley store is better.

  • Anna

    4th St. and ideal location for Apple. Accessible by bus and plenty of parking. Hopefully it will liven up 4th in the evenings. I have always found Apple employees friendly, even in Soho, NYC. I agree that lines can be long in Emeryville exactly why another location is needed. Denny Abrams rocks. A great boost for the City.

  • noni

    as an employee at the bay street apple store, it’s nice to hear that people find us creepy. thanks for that.

  • Diane

    @Deb: I’ve had exactly the opposite reaction at Emeryville. The last time I bought something there an employee came up to me and rang me up with his mobile scanner from the middle of the store. As someone who uses Apple for my business and home, I find its customer service model far superior to any other business out there.

  • http://www.berkeleyhomes.com/blog Ira Serkes

    I’ve found that the Apple Store experience very customer friendly … though your point of items high on shelves with hard-to-read prices is a good one. Unless there’s a new product out and the line might be creeping (rather than creepy,) you can usually finish your purchase within a few minutes.

    Never tried to pay by cash, since it’s much easier to track business expenses by importing credit card charges directly into Quicken. Paying by credit card makes the transaction faster, and I usually have receipt receipt by email before I’m out the front door. Less cash to handle probably makes it safer for employees and customers.

    I’ve taken many Apple One To One classes on iMovie, Final Cut Express, Keynote, Numbers and know that Scott, Steven, Hugh, Tony … and all the other trainers are all excellent – helpful, friendly and courteous.

    Been a Mac user for decades (even spoke at Macworld Expo 1992) … back when I felt like I was the only Mac user in Real Estate. From time to time friends in other parts of the country talk about snooty Apple Store employees, but I think the Emeryville Apple Store is a superb model for other businesses to follow. I can’t think of any other store which is consistently filled with people browsing/buying and also heavily staffed by employees.

  • Nancy

    Deb, my brother bought a macbook last week at the Bay St. store and it was easy and pleasant, despite the afternoon crowd. This is his first computer — he’s in his 50s — and he was feeling a little embarrassed about that. No problem. The salesperson was cordial and handled everything smoothly.

    I’ve taken a ton of one-to-one classes (like Ira in this thread), and can’t speak highly enough of the trainers. It’ll be tough to give up the Bay Street crowd if the Fourth Street store opens. We are fortunate to live in an area where there are so many stores; some states don’t have even one!

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  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHMXDcLMMFg Berkeley_art

    A group of Berkeley Artists just found out apple is opening a new store there, and made a 1 minute funny Christmas video “Apple Store is Coming To Town.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHMXDcLMMFg

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  • Sarah

    Noni – read the yelp reviews that are designated one star and you will start to get a clue why people think the employees at your store are not only creepy, but extremely rude.

  • SiriusA

    “customer-unfriendly”?? wow. I can hardly believe you wrote that. I don’t think I’ve ever had the kind of service in other stores that I do in Apple stores and from Apple in general. they have a rule that once you have someone helping you that person works with you until you’re done — you can talk to them for forty minutes if you need to, which is awesome. it does mean you may need to wait to get help but once you get it you won’t lose it. also, who pays cash anymore? as for things on high shelves, I don’t know anything about that… perhaps there is room for improvement there.

  • SiriusA

    Downtown seems doomed to me. Been living in Berkeley about 7 years and downtown seems to just get more empty and downtrodden. I’ve heard that the rents keep going up and that landlords would rather not rent than take less money (I can’t say that’s true, just what I hear). and anytime I read about the redevelopment proposals (did seem a fiasco for a while, perhaps it’s on track now?) they seemed well intentioned but perhaps too little too late. I don’t know what the solution is. there may not be one. lots of students doesn’t always translate into healthy businesses… especially one’s that need higher revenues than a salad bar on Telegraph does.