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lunch hour at the new apple store

apple opened their new nyc store at the top of 5th avenue last friday, with a lot of hoopla, press coverage, and red-hot hype. it was lousy weather and there were tons of people, so i didn’t bother going. although the first 2500 people got t-shirts and that would have been cool. anyway, i headed uptown on my lunch hour to check it out.

the distinctive design element is the much-discussed enormous glass cube at the entrance of the basement retail space on 58th and 5th. first impression of the cube–very, very cool. i was walking east across 58th st., which has a lot of construction and scaffolding and such right now. and when you reach 5th avenue, your view opens up and there’s the cube. there’s an island of space between you and the cube, and it’s still enormous and a very impressive sight. there’s glass elevator access, the glass stairway down, and i spotted an unobtrusive security guard standing off to the side. there may be more–the area is a popular hangout for tourists, so some crowd members may have had a more official capacity. being a new yorker, i worry about the glass cube. i ride the subway every day, and see the effects of etchall on glass windows. and pigeons, and whatnot.

that glass cube is going to be a lot of work, i think.

the gm building basement has always been a dog of a retail space, even with its amazing location at the top of the 5th avenue. to mix a metaphor, apple has taken lemons and made lemonade. the cube draws you in, even if you have no idea what’s at the bottom of the stairs. and the suspended apple logo is classy and elegant.

i’ve never been to an apple store (i’m a tekserve kind of guy). but it’s an exciting retail environment, to be sure. there were hundreds of customers milling around an enormous open room, with stations of dozens and dozens of apple product to try. even with the crowds, there was so much product on display that i had no trouble at all trying the new macbook (unexpected love of that chiclets keyboard), a mac mini hooked up to a 23″ apple display (i may have to put my philips 23″ hdtv to better use), an ipod w/video and a nano (never used anything other than a shuffle), and other stuff as well.

this may be the place i’ll take my apple stuff if i need a genius bar experience. there are a lot of staff at it, and it seems to be a bit better organized than the tekserve “take a number” approach. plus i can go at 5:00 in the morning before work and avoid the crowds–the store is open 24/7.

interestingly, even with the enormous number of customers, i still had very pleasant apple salespeople approach on two separate occasions and offer help if i had questions. definitely an atypical nyc retail experience–i could wander around an empty best buy for hours without an offer of help. even the guy at the bottom of the stairs with the bottle of windex and a rag (there’s a lot of glass in that store!) smiled when i came in.

on 5th avenue, where the abercrombie and fitch store employs a shirtless chelsea boy at the store entrance, and the sirius store has a model dancing in the window with her headset on, it’s nice to see that apple can attract much bigger crowds with a simple, elegant, and cool presence.

update: photos of some of the celebrity attendees at the apple store opening. a couple of a-listers, some b+ listers.

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