Having had the same thought over the months since Apple moved its one million dollar per day location a couple blocks from its previous perch, I decided to investigate.
First, a simple Web search reveals that this problem is not exclusive to Apple Santa Monica. At least not historically. Most reports of a stench permeating Apple retail are from the pre-2013 period. In fact, my unscientific, Google (GOOG)-fueled sample revealed that a majority date back to the 2008 to 2012 timeframe.
This makes the notion of a noticeable stink at what we can reasonably call one of Apple's most important "flagship" locations all the more newsworthy.You would think if the presence of what even Santa Monica Apple Store employees I spoke with define as B.O. has been a recurring problem elsewhere, management in charge of retail operations would have taken steps to safeguard future stores, particularly the brand's most important ones. If you can hardly smell cigarette smoke in the best Vegas casinos, you shouldn't be able to whiff stale sweat inside one of the world's premier retail outlets. But, of course, after Ron Johnson left for J. C. Penney (JCP) nobody, other than the underperforming John Browett (who lasted six months), was officially in charge of Apple retail for an entire year. Maybe job one for Angela Ahrendts is to address this known issue. I call it a "known issue" because I spoke to two Apple Store Santa Monica employees this week who confirmed, without hesitation, that the store, at times, does indeed stink. When I asked one employee about it, this employee chalked it up to "human beings." Lots of them. Lingering and loitering. This employee claimed management has been informed of the issue. At one point in our conversation, this employee tried to blame that morning's particularly intense smell on what he referred to as "plumbing work" being conducted "underneath the building." Upon further query, I was actually given an unofficial walk through the store by another employee that helps explain this sensory phenomenon. I should point out that -- in the spirit of full disclosure -- I did not reveal my identity to the Apple Store employees I spoke to. Knowing the tight leash Apple keeps on its people, especially at the retail level, there's no way I would have obtained answers or otherwise useful information had they known I am a member of the media. That said, even going in anonymous, I didn't expect such uncharacteristically loose lips. Part of me feels badly being incognito through the whole thing, but there was no request or implicit expectation that I -- or the people I was with -- keep what follows, largely on Page Two, between us. The employee who showed me around the store pointed out sensors (the little things that look like the ends of screws in the middle of the image) located on the walls up to the ceiling throughout the store.