They have smiles on their faces and apples on their hearts.
They have iPods, iPads, and MacBook Pros on their tables and pristine white paint on their walls.
But these are mere prestidigitators who want to press you into believing you are in a temple of the digital world. For, as beautifully relayed by the American blogger BirdAbroad, this Apple store in Kunming, China, is less apple pie and more, well, takeaway.
The owners appear to have taken away everything they believe Apple devotees worship in retail. The blogger, a 27-year-old who lives in Kunming with her husband, was herself at first fooled. But then the scales fell from her eyes and the wails began to develop a little lower down.
"The stairs were poorly made. The walls hadn't been painted properly," she noted.
When she thought about it a little further she realized that Apple stores aren't called Apple stores. At least not at the store. There is only the Apple logo on the storefront. Yet here were the words "Apple Store," bold as you like.
As the blogger (who seems to be called Jessica) sniffed around further, she examined the MacBooks and other products--which she can't be sure are really MacBooks or, indeed, anything to do with Apple. She then talked to the staff, who truly seemed to believe that they work for Apple.
Crucially, Apple doesn't appear to think so--there is no mention of an Apple store in Kunming on Apple's Web site.
A PC World commenter called MarkWine7 said the store had been open for a while and that it was "100% fake."
Another PC World commenter, Edelbrp, suggested that this might be one of 13 Apple resellers in Kunming--which is in southwestern China and is renowned, among other things, for being the place where Chinese athletes undergo high-altitude training.
BirdAbroad said on her blog, however, that this was not some elevated Apple reseller. She wrote in reply to one commenter on her blog: "If I bring my computer to the fake "Genius Bar," is anyone there actually going to be able to do anything about it? I seriously doubt it."
To support her position, a commenter on her blog called Todd, who said he worked for Apple, was very clear: "As an Apple employee, this is not an Apple Premium Reseller. It doesn't even look like a proper reseller; more like a ghetto version of the Apple Store."
Indeed, the pictured and loftily entitled Apple Store may not even be the only slightly dubious one in the area. BirdAbroad said she espied two more--one of which was helpfully called "Apple Stoer."
It seems that fake Apple products and stores are proliferating in China. There again, perhaps these products are merely leftovers from the Chinese factories that make them in the first place. Every factory has leftovers, doesn't it?