Tech News on G4

Largest Canadian Apple Store Opens in West Edmonton Mall

July 7, 2008

By Greg Gazin - Apple Gaziní - G4 Canada

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1st in Line : Daniel Bell* All photo credits by Greg Gazin

I usually don’t get too excited about the opening of a new store, but when it comes to the Apple Store I have to make an exception. Visiting an Apple Store is a unique experience itself, but to be part of the christening of a brand spanking new one, just adds to the excitement.

The Scene at West Edmonton Mall

It’s about an hour before the Saturday July 5th, 10 AM opening and as expected, there are people queued-up all the way down the railing of the 2nd Floor Phase 2 of the mall. As moments pass, people keep arriving, each one hoping to be one of the first to enter the store to get one of 1000 free Apple T-Shirts being given away.

(Photo: Daniel Bell – 1st in Line)

About 20 minutes to show time it looks like the numbers have swelled to 500-600. At the front of the queue is Daniel Bell, 24, from St. Albert, Alberta. A die-hard Mac enthusiast, he’d been there since 10am the day before. This will be his 6th store he’s been at he tells me.

Star Trek Uniforms

Inside, the staff is all decked out in jeans and specific colour T-shirts to clearly identify their roles within the store. It’s orange for the Concierge, light blue, sort of turquoise, for the Specialists and dark blue for the Geniuses.  Call these, the “official” uniforms of the Apple Store – although they seemed reminiscent as to what Kirk, Spock and McCoy wore on the Enterprise.

AppleStore Edmonton - Grand Opening

They stood in a row, creating 2 parallel receiving lines from the glass door entrance to the far end of the store.. They were pumped.  You could tell they were genuinely happy to be there. You could hear their cheers getting louder as the doors opened up. They exited the store en-masse, like a herd, and made their way around the entire perimeter of the line-up - cheering clapping, slapping the high-five, shaking hands and saying hello to everyone. I’d never seen anything like this. I felt like I was at a pep rally for the Edmonton Eskimos.

As they made their way back, they returned into formation, the sliding glass doors slowly closed. Shortly thereafter, the lights dimmed out and within moments, the doors one again, slid opened and the store Manager, Brenda Potyk emerged.  At the top of her voice, she welcomed everyone and asked if they were excited to be here. She then turned to her staff and repeated the question – an equal roar could be heard.

(Photo: Brenda Potyk, Manager, Apple Store Edmonton)

Mgr: Apple Store Edmonton -Brenda

Each Customer Greeted

The store was now officially open and it wasn’t even 10 yet.  The cheering, clapping, high-fiving ritual continued lead by Potyk at the front of the line.  After his 24-hour wait, Bell entered the store first. Subsequently, each customer was individually greeted on the receiving line then handed a non-descript white box containing a black t-shirt.

Not long after the store was just jammed packed and it remained that way for some time.

Think Different Design

The store is rectangular in shape, everything in one place. No obvious cubicles, offices or boardrooms, all activity takes place on the main floor. (Although we don’t know what happens back in the warehouse). Its crisp, clean modular design is reminiscent of the Apple Products themselves. Seeing this layout anywhere, it can easily be identified as “Apple”.

The Apple Store - West Edmonton is only the 6th, yet at 6,000sq. ft., it’s the largest Apple Retail store in Canada. And unlike some of the stand-alone stores in San Francisco or Sydney Australia, this one is located in a mall – West Edmonton Mall.  As for the other 5, three are located in the Greater Toronto Area - Eaton Centre, Yorkdale and Sherway Gardens.  There is one at Carrefour Laval in Laval, Quebec, just outside Montreal and the 5th, which opened in late May, is at Vancouver’s Pacific Centre.

If you have an Apple Store in your vicinity, I’d highly recommend taking in the experience. If there isn’t one nearby, then here’s a great idea for a holiday excursion.  And if you can come across a Grand Opening somewhere, then even better.

Greg Gazin can be reached at gadgetguy “at” telus “dot” net.

Apple Store - Neatly In a Row

http://www.flickr.com/photos/16862130@N05/

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