UPDATE: Here's why flagship stores for retailers like Apple and Starbucks have become tourist attractions
By Tonya Garcia, MarketWatch
Customers feel a deep connection to companies like Apple and Starbucks
It's common for people to plan vacations to pay a visit to world sites like the Eiffel Tower, the Tower of London or the Statue of Liberty.
Some carve out time to visit an Apple Inc. (AAPL) store. And perhaps more will do so now that they're "town squares."
Retailers of all kinds are trying to make their bricks-and-mortar locations more appealing to shoppers to drive traffic through the doors. At a time when companies like Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) have made e-commerce the most convenient way to shop, retailers aim to make the hands-on experience of going to a store worth the trip.
Last week, Apple's senior vice president of retail Angela Ahrendts said the company's retail locations would become "town squares" that operate as "gathering places." One will be on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, according to a report from The Atlantic (https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/09/apple-iphone-x-face-id/539583/), and another will be at the Carnegie Library in Washington, D.C., which was once an actual town square of sorts.
Whether you think this is a good idea or not, and many do not (https://www.buzzfeed.com/stephaniemlee/tech-and-the-town-square?utm_term=.oxgo0nYGD#.efNeyYvP4), it acknowledges that there are a lot of people who go to stores for something other than shopping. This is particularly true of flagship stores, which usually function as the most elaborate of a brand's showcases.
Mario Natarelli, managing partner at MBLM, a branding agency that tracks on brand intimacy, says there are some brands that customers are "fused," or closely identify, with. Those brand flagships and headquarters are the ones that travelers might go out of their way to visit.