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Fake Apple Store Found in Kunming City, China – So Convincing, Even Employees Believe It’s Real

Posted on the 22 July 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Fake Apple store found in Kunming City, China – so convincing, even employees believe it’s real

At the Kunming "Apple" Store. Photo credit: BirdAbroad,

In recent years, China has elevated the art of copying counterfeiting just about everything, from Adidas shoes to Samsung phones to high-speed rail lines – but a fake Apple Store in Kunming City made headlines this week because it was so good that even the employees thought it was real.

A blogger by the name of BirdAbroad blew the whistle on the fake Apple store – and several more in the area – after she came upon the familiar white-walled shop adorned with Apple’s logo in the remote mountain town. It was such a good imitation, she said, that she even made a bet with some friends that it was real.

“I know, you guys are laughing: an Apple store in Kunming? No one who doesn’t know me personally has ever heard of Kunming before. Kunming is the end of the Earth. It’s all true – but seriously, China warps your mind into believing that anything is possible, if you stay here long enough,” the 27-year-old American living in the city wrote. “When we went back to this store 5 days later and couldn’t find it, having overshot by two blocks, I seriously thought that it had simply been torn down and replaced with a bank in the mean time – hey, it’s China. That could happen. You have already guessed the punchline, of course: this was a total Apple store ripoff. A beautiful ripoff – a brilliant one – the best ripoff store we had ever seen (and we see them every day).”

Apple has no store in Kunming, but for all intents and purposes, the store looked like the real deal: Wooden work stations bearing Apple’s products (which were reportedly real) hipster staff wearing iconic blue Apple T-shirts and great big smiles, even spot-on promotional materials. On closer inspection, BirdAbroad said, the construction seems a bit flimsy – rickety stairs, poorly painted walls – and other materials weren’t as polished as at official Apple stores.

Next Media Animation’s take on the fake shop, featuring a Darth Vader helmet a golden apple:

  • Wax Apples everywhere. Kunming’s crop of fake Apples stores is by no means alone. A quick Flickr image search brought up fake Apple stores in Johannsburg, South Africa, in Vietnam, Tokyo, and more in China. Reuters visited another such store in Shanghai, kitted out in the Apple style, where customers appeared “unfazed” that the store wasn’t legit.

    “I prefer to get my Apple products fixed here. It’s very troublesome going to the real Apple store in Lujiazui because not only do you have to pay to get repairs, but you have to make an appointment to see the sales specialist,” Xavier, a 30-something expatriate who declined to give his last name, told the news agency. “The prices are the same as the real store but the service is better here.”

  • Press fascination. So, if counterfeit shops are so de rigueur in China and other countries, why did the Kunming store capture worldwide attention? Explained Philip Elmer-Dewitt, Apple blogger at Fortune, “The press loved the story of the retail outlet in southwestern China that passed itself off as an Apple Store, down to the style (if not the spelling) of the signage, perhaps because it played into the country’s reputation for shameless disregard of western intellectual property rights.”
  • Angry customers. Not all fake Apple store customers were so blasé about the issue, however: Reuters also reported that staff at the fake Kunming shop faced a barrage of angry customers demanding refunds on Friday after news of its counterfeit status broke. “When I heard the news I rushed here immediately to get the receipt, I am so upset,” a teary, upset customer told Reuters. “With a store this big, it looks so believable who would have thought it was fake?”
  • Well done, China. Josh Harrison, writing at the Tai Wan On blog at, however, wasn’t angry – in fact, he congratulated China. “Way to go, China! I think the fallout from this is karmic retribution for that imitation Gundam you guys put up last year. Then again, most of the stuff we have here in the U.S. is made within your borders… so it’s probably all good.”

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