Sunday, May 20, 2018
Business

PeachMac Apple retailer expands into Florida with two Tampa Bay stores

It's like an Apple store, but with more stuff.

PeachMac, an independent retailer of Apple products and accessories, opens Saturday at Westfield Citrus Park and Nov. 17 at Westfield Countryside in Clearwater.

The stores are the first in Florida for the small southeast chain, which has eight locations in Georgia, one in Alabama and another opening in the spring in Charlottesville, Va.

PeachMac president Darryl Peck said he chose the Tampa Bay area based on the population and limited access to Apple stores. Apple has two retail stores in the area: at International Plaza and Westfield Brandon.

Mall officials are thrilled to welcome a store devoted to Apple products.

"This is definitely a brand that had been requested time and time again from our shoppers," said Taylor Clifton, marketing director for Westfield Citrus Park. "This is certainly going to fulfill a niche."

Many customers will appreciate not having to drive so far to an Apple store, said Lauren Clark, marketing director for Westfield Countryside.

PeachMac carries about 1,000 Apple products — five times that of a regular Apple store, Peck said. Among them, according to the company: "way, way more different Mac, iPad, iPod and iPhone accessories, software, backpacks, cables, etc., than an Apple Store.''

PeachMac does not sell the iPhone but services it.

Much like Apple's Genius Bar, PeachMac has service departments for repairing Apple products and free training workshops.

Customers don't need an appointment for the service department and often can get repairs done while they wait or within a few days. Shoppers pay at a traditional cash register counter.

The stores average about 3,200 square feet, significantly smaller than an Apple store, and have beige wood furniture and dark wood floors, a slightly warmer look than the sleek Apple stores. Employees wear PeachMac T-shirts switched out quarterly to reflect the season's colors. The name PeachMac reflects a twist on the name Apple and Georgia's favorite fruit.

"We try not to be quite as crazy as an Apple store," Peck said.

Founded in 2007 and based in Athens, Ga., the company is one of 175 independent Apple specialists and the third largest nationwide, Peck said. Its prices are the same as at Apple stores, and product availability varies depending on the location and item.

PeachMac stores don't have quite the buzz as Apple stores but potentially are hugely profitable. Apple does $5,647 per square foot in sales a year, far exceeding any other retailer. PeachMac, a private company, doesn't release sales figures.

PeachMac is looking at 12 to 15 other markets in Florida to expand, Peck said. Grand opening events typically attract about 3,000 people.

"People always say, 'When is an Apple store opening near me?' " he said. "We're the next best thing, but honestly, I think we're just as good, if not better."

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