You’ve probably heard by now that the Apple Store is no longer the “Apple Store” — they’re dropping the “Store” part.
Think about the brands that are Apple’s peers in retail. No one goes to the Tiffany Store or Gucci Store, they just go to Tiffany or Gucci. It’s not even just a premium thing — you say Target and Walmart, not Target Store and Walmart Store.
Daniel Jalkut disagrees somewhat:
Apple is a company whose products, hardware and software, have historically been sold separately from its own retail presence. Going to “Apple” will never make sense the way it does to go to “Target” or even to “Tiffany’s.” Where “Store” has been dropped, it’s essential that some other qualifier takes it place. Going to “Apple Union Square” makes sense. Asking a hotel concierge whether there is “an Apple nearby” makes as much sense as asking where the nearest “Ford” or “Honda” is.
Jalkut is right, but that’s because he includes the definite article “the”. Apple’s retail line may officially be referred to as “Apple Chinook Centre”, for instance — instead of “Apple Store, Chinook Centre” — but most people are still going to ask where the nearest “Apple store” is, lowercase intended. They’re also going to continue to say that they’re “going to Apple on Fifth Avenue”, which doesn’t need the “store” qualifier because it doesn’t have the definite article.
He’s also right that nobody asks for the nearest “Honda”; they’re more likely to ask for the nearest “Honda dealership”. But, at least where I live, no Honda dealerships actually have the words “dealer” or “dealership” in their names. People may ask for the nearest “Honda dealership”, or they may refer to the one where they bought their S2000 at as “Honda West” or “T&T Honda”.
Update: Some of these examples sound a little weird — even “Apple Chinook Centre” comes across as contrived. “Apple The Grove” doesn’t sound right at all. Perhaps “Apple at location” would sound better in nearly all circumstances. But, then again, Apple has always been funny about their phrasing — note, for example, their persistence in dropping the definite article when referring to any of their products: it’s always “iPhone”, never “the iPhone”.
Update: John Buck, via email, pointed out something that I hadn’t considered: “store” branding is good for most of the products Apple sells today, but would you ever buy a car from a “store”?