Santa Barbara Store Waiting Line Begins

May 16, 2009

The waiting line for Saturday’s grand opening of the State Street (Santa Barbara, Calif.) retail store has formed up. Spencer and Chris arrived at 4 p.m., and Dieri came in around 10 p.m. The unique store is 55 feet wide and about 75 feet deep, and blends into the city’s Colonial Revival architecture. The storefront is framed by five arches held up by masonry columns. The wooden double-door is topped by a half-circle window, and the display windows are set back about 10 feet from the sidewalk line to form an inset. The red brick sidewalk extends into the setback to provide continuity. Apple’s black banner hangs over the front with a white Apple logo. The ceiling of the storefront recess is wood, painted with a floral pattern. Inside, the store looks expansive, although the standard-height ceiling gives it a more cramped look (it should have been Chestnut Street height). E-mail your grand opening photos to, and view the photo gallery.

We learned that Apple has leased both levels of the store that they rebuilt. However, they are not occupying any part of the upper-level 6,500 square-feet and have not made any improvements to the space. Instead, they intend to lease it out to a suitable tenant.

Looking closely at the sidewalk in front of the store, there were telltale signs of changes. In fact, the wooden park bench normally parallel to the storefront in front of the Apple store was removed, and then reinstalled slightly south (to the right) of the storefront, and now perpendicular to the storefront. Next, two trash cans were moved further north along the sidewalk. But apparently Apple couldn’t create the same magic with the U.S. Postal Service–the full-sized blue mailbox in front of the store sits in its original position, almost directly in front of the store.

By 1 a.m. there five people in line and it was a pleasant 60 degrees, although an overcast sky is making it slightly damp. Fortunately, we’re all sitting back near the store, which is under an overhang, so we’re out of the weather.

The now-famous Apple flag is odd-shaped: flat on the bottom and both sides, but angled at the top, parallel with the pole attached to the building at about a 30-degree angle.

This section of State Street isn’t quite level–it runs slightly downhill from north to south. Therefore, the lower wall below the display windows is slight higher on the right than it is on the left. It contributes an asymmetry to an otherwise regular-appearing storefront.

At 2 a.m. we have electric power, thanks to the city’s holiday light outlets next to the trees in the sidewalk, and to an enterprising overnighter who brought cords to connect. (Oops! Spoke too soon. An friendly police officer came by and told us to disconnect from the city’s free electricity.)

The sidewalk and street activity tapered off after about 2 a.m. Most of the after-10 p.m. traffic has been students from UC Santa Barbara passing by, enroute back to campus from the night spots. Santa Barbara has a group of veteran “travelers” or homeless people. Many them have come by asking about the store. All but one were friendly. One ended the conversation by asking, “Uh, by the way…do any of have any ganja?” We assured him were were drug-free, and he was a little disappointed.

At 5 a.m. Apple’s hired photographer arrived to take the store’s official photo. The waiting line moved north on the sidewalk to be out of her shots. But at the same moment, a two-person city crew arrived for the sidewalk’s daily steam cleaning. The crew moved across the street when the photographer explained she needed time to snap photos. But when the crew began their cleaning there, the seam was apparently affecting the photos, so the cleaning crew moved to the block south.

The line didn’t start growing until about 7 a.m., and then built slowly. By 8:45 a.m. there were just 50 in line, making those at the front a little nervous–all that waiting and only 50? The overnight fog began breaking up and the temperature, which had dipped to 60, was now heading to 75. By 9:30 a.m. there were 70 people in line.

At one point a Santa Barbara Fire Department engine and ladder truck slowly drove by the store, prompting those in line to applaud and wave at the firefighters.

Inside the store, the employees had their pep talk. About 9:30 a.m. they came out the back door, then ran down the waiting line giving everyone high-fives.

Just before 10 a.m. store manager Matt came out, welcomed the crowd, and then ushered Spencer inside the store as #1. The employees clapped, the crowd was enthusiastic, and another store is open.

The waiting line lasted until 11:17 a.m., when the security team took down the stanchions. But the store remained crowded with buyers and lookers.

Check video from the Santa Barbara MUG.

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