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Apple is overhauling hundreds of stores to try to create the ‘modern-day town square’

Angela Ahrendts puts her stamp on the Apple Store.

Apple Shares Take A Beating On Wall Street Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Apple began pushing a new retail concept on Tuesday aimed at getting customers to visit their stores to learn new skills and not only come through when they want to buy or fix something.

Starting on Tuesday, people can sign up for free classes ranging from a photography session titled “Seeing Beauty in the Familiar” with the photographer Chris Ozer to “Producing Music on the iPhone” with the producer Steve Lacy. The programming, dubbed “Today at Apple,” is going live this week in 271 U.S. Apple stores and 495 overall.

The launch is part of a new store initiative called “Today at Apple” being led by the company’s retail chief, Angela Ahrendts. The goal, it seems, is to build a connection with current and potential customers outside of when they are simply looking for a new Macbook or visiting the Genius Bar because their iPhone screen shattered.

The store reinvention comes as all types of retailers are looking for new ways to maintain or increase foot traffic in their stores as more buying moves online. Within the industry, retailers are talking about reallocating existing square footage toward so-called in-store “experiences.”

Apple previously hosted free “how to” classes that taught beginners how to use its products and apps. Those classes will continue under the new “Today at Apple” banner, a spokesman said, but their content has been redesigned. Other new classes will be related to coding, art and design skills, as well as Tuesday night sessions geared specifically for teachers.

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