When is an Apple store not an Apple store?

Without wishing to stereotype, it’s hardly unheard of for merchandise in the Far East to be unlicensed imitations of products featuring Western brands. But it appears a new benchmark has been set with an entirely fake Apple store in China.

The store was found by a blogger living in Kunming, in the southwest of the country. Although US chains are starting to appear in the city, she was still surprised to see an Apple store spring up, complete with decor and staff clad in blue shirts.

It wasn’t until she made a second visit that she was able to confirm the entire store was a fake, with some of the bigger giveaways being the appearance of the words “Apple Store” on signs (real stores only use the logo), and the fact that the staff badges didn’t have names. The biggest giveaway of course is that that Apple itself only lists four stores for all of China, in the much larger cities of Beijing and Shanghai.

In talking to staff, having persuaded security officials that she was an Apple employee from the US, the blogger discovered that the people working in the store appeared to genuinely believe they were working for Apple.

Amazingly the blogger then discovered that just around the corner were two more fake outlets: another “Apple Store” and, less convincingly, an “Apple Stoer.”

It’s not clear if the devices on sale in the store are themselves counterfeit, though it seems likely as the locations don’t mix Apple’s list of official product retailers in the city. However, the Wall Street Journal says it has spoken to an employee at the store who says staff are well aware the store is not a genuine Apple store, but that the products are genuine and sold at the same prices as those charged by authorized retailers.

(Picture credit: BirdAbroad)