I attended my first Apple store opening today, at the NorthShore Mall in Peabody, Massachusetts. It is a 130 mile round-trip drive for me and I don't like shopping, especially in shopping malls, so it was only the opening that got me in the car at 8:30 a.m. I was not disappointed.
The mall is huge...one of those rambling place where it looks like they just keep adding stores willy-nilly. I had no idea where the Apple store would be so I entered through Macy's and headed for the cosmetic department. The mall entrance is always through the cosmetic department so they can try to make you inhale whatever it is that causes uncontrollable spending on stuff you don't need. I heard one salesperson ask another "Did you see the line of people waitin' to get into that computer store?" The other answered "Idiots." I bit my tongue, which was hard 'cause I was holding my breathe, and continued on.
The line wasn't of epic proportions, though earlier I guess it had been. I waited an hour, but I had my Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency to read while waiting so it wasn't bad. There were some employees wandering up and down the line showing off PowerBooks and letting people play with them. Others were handing out free water. People were walking by, gawking at the line and asking "What are they giving away?" I replied, "Nothing." (they do give out t-shirts, but no one was there for those). Disbelief abounded. One disbeliever talked to a saleperson for a bit and decided to get in line. I saw her with what looked like an iBook box a little later. Wow. Imagine being able to impulse spend like that?!
The store is the same as all the others, but the Genius Bar is on the left instead of right (see article in MacCentral), which suits me just fine. I like my genius on the left. I will confess here that I am not yet a Mac owner, so I can't tell you all the wonderful things they had for people to play with, but let it be said that this is the way to sell computers. Stations you can walk all around so it is easier for a group of people to watch a demonstration. Bright lighting and clear, clean space. Places to sit. The music was a tad loud, though there were more than a few Depeche Mode tunes on the playlist, so I was happy enough. Just a wonderful experience.
I collected lots of little product booklets to hang all around my workspace so I am always inspired not to spend too much money on books and save up for my first Mac. I think it will be an iBook. I had never seen one, and it is lovely. And after spending six months around Mac discussion groups, I am sure I will like its performance. Oh how I wish I could have walked out with a computer. But I didn't have to leave the store empty handed...I have my Mac t-shirt.