Photo: Dylan Love
Apple has 361 retail locations throughout the world, but that’s not nearly enough to reach everyone in its huge customer base.Consider the city of Asheville, an artsy liberal town of approximately 84,000 people in Western North Carolina.
Ashevillians love their Apple products, but the closest official retail location is 70 miles and a state away in Greenville, South Carolina. The next closest is more than two hours away in Knoxville, Tennessee. Making those trips is out of the question for many people.
Enter CityMac, Asheville’s authorised Apple reseller.
Ahamad Abuadas, CityMac store manager, told us that Apple won’t open a new store unless it runs the numbers and determines that it can make $30 million per year in a given market. “authorised resellers come in when people in those smaller those markets need help,” he said.
What does it mean to become an authorised reseller? There are tests and marks to meet, and it helps if you have an in at the company. A certain amount of your staff has to get official Apple certifications in order to maintain your authorization as well.
As for the differences between an Apple Store and an authorised reseller, Abuadas told us that “Apple physically limits our ability to do certain things. Repairs on iPhones and certain computers, those have to go to Apple. They authorise no one other than themselves to work on those. If we fixed them, we could lose certification and wouldn’t be able to carry Apple products.”
(It bears mentioning that the iPhone accounts for roughly half of Apple’s business, so we feel it’s only natural that Apple would want to keep that for itself.)
For the limitations that Apple imposes, CityMac has a large degree of freedom at the same time.
If you buy a new computer from CityMac and your old computer is a Mac too, they’ll transfer your old data for free. This stands in huge contrast to Apple — a data transfer requires you to enroll in its One to One service for $100 per year.
Additionally, CityMac employees will go to your house to help you with anything you need at a flat rate of $60 per hour. Abuadas told us that off-site visits can lead to crazy stories — “I went to an ex-marine’s house to help him off-site. He had some PTSD issues and starting opening up about it, saying ‘I’ve probably killed more people than you could count. The most amazing thing you can see is a human being dissolved in phosphorus.’ It was weird.”
A reseller like CityMac arguably delivers on the promise of Apple retail moreso than Apple itself. Since resellers pop up in smaller markets, employees remember their repeat customers and develop relationships with them. Prices on Apple products are identical to those at the Apple Store. And for moments when you’re stumped by your computer, they’ll come to your house.
So what goes on at an Apple authorised reseller?
If you lived in Asheville, the closest Apple Store would be in Greenville, South Carolina, about 90 minutes away.
The store is spacious and offers a mellow vibe missing from certain Apple Stores (I'm looking at you, Fifth Avenue).
CityMac only makes about 10% profit on Apple products, so they keep lots of third-party accessories on hand.
CityMac offers free lessons on all aspects of Apple products in this classroom area. Customers are invited to bring their devices and get help with whatever they need.
If they need more specialised help, however, they can get individual help at these stations for $35 an hour.
CityMac has an adjoining coffee shop called CityMug, and the employees can drink free coffee all day.
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