As you might expect, Steve Jobs had a pretty darn impressive Rolodex — and he was willing to draw on it to seek advice whenever he needed it.
According to a new interview with Louis Vuitton chief Bernard Arnault, Jobs turned to him shortly after rejoining Apple to ask Arnault’s opinion on Apple-branded stores. The idea seemed crazy at the time, but Jobs saw how well it could work for luxury goods makers.
Arnault shared the anecdote with CNBC’s “The Brave Ones.” He said that Jobs sought his advice around the turn of the millennium.
“I don’t know if you will remember but at that time every competitor of him was telling it was crazy to open [a] store for Apple,” he recalled. “I remember Dell was saying that. Obviously they were wrong because Apple stores are a big success.”
As I’ve written before in my “Today in Apple history” posts, the Apple Store was unlike anything tech rivals were doing at the time. Jobs’ aesthetic a lot to the fashion world, with minimalist stores located in trendy urban areas. Apple’s strategy called for the selling of beautifully presented “big ticket” items rather than bulk sales.
The first Apple Stores opened at Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia, and the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, California, in May 2001. Before long, they expanded throughout the U.S. and became the most profitable stores, on a square-foot-basis, in the United States.
Sadly, Bernard Arnault didn’t share any information about the specific advice he gave Steve, although clearly nothing he said discouraged the Apple co-founder.
Amusingly (although probably not for Arnault), in the CNBC interview he mourned the fact that he had owned Apple shares, but unloaded them way too early.
In the light of Apple’s blockbuster quarter, he says that he, “should have kept them until today.”