In May of 2001, the first Apple Store descended upon Tysons Corner Center of McLean, Virginia. Six years later, there are now 174 Apple Stores spread across the globe, with the Fifth Avenue location in New York City attracting 50,000 customers per week. Sales average $4,032 per square foot (while shops like Tiffany & Co. stand at a measly $2,666), and in 2004, Apple reached $1 billion in annual sales faster than any US retailer, while sales hit $1 billion per quarter last year.
In short: Apple has become one of the most successful retailers in America. It's not sheer chance or luck that has driven the success of Apple's retail venture, however: Apple has reinvented the design and operation of the retail store from the ground up, as is noted in this excellent and enlightening Fortune Magazine article. Check it out for a fascinating look behind the scenes of the development of the Apple Store, and how Steve Jobs and co. have landed a spot in Fortune's top 10 Most Admired Companies.