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The Day the Beatles Became Store Owners

Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

One of the first projects the Beatles undertook after forming their Apple Corps company was the expansion into retail. The fruits of that effort, the Apple boutique, opened on Dec. 7, 1967, at 94 Baker Street in London.

Yes, there was an Apple store before Steve Jobs had even entered his teenage years, and instead of computers and iPods, they sold clothes. The Fool, a Dutch collective were hired to design both the store and the items that were stocked on its racks. The boutique was run by Pete Shotton, a childhood friend of John Lennon‘s and Jenny Boyd, George Harrison‘s sister-in-law, who was reportedly the inspiration for Donovan‘s hit “Jennifer Juniper” and eventually married Mick Fleetwood.

Its most striking aspect was the psychedelic painting that graced its outer walls (pictured above). The Fool designed the mural, which was painted by art students. However, the group never received the necessary permission, either from their landlord or the city council, and the facade was repainted white in May 1968.

The Apple Boutique didn’t even last a year. Eight months after opening, on July 31, 1968, the Beatles closed the shop because it was losing too much money. In keeping with the freewheeling spirit of the times, the group allowed every customer entering the store on its final day of business to take one item for free.

The financial troubles of Apple Corps’ early days was satirized by Eric Idle of Monty Python in the 1978 TV film, The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash, a “mockumentary” about a band that paralleled the Beatles’ career. The clip below features cameos from Ron Wood as a Hells Angel and, showing off his sense of humor about all the money he lost, Harrison as a TV news reporter.

Watch ‘The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash’

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