Waiting Line Begins for NYC Store

November 13, 2009

Just after 4 p.m. a 15 year-old local boy became the first person in line at the new Upper West Side Apple store, layered with three New York Jets sweatshirts and a wool cap. The time before his arrival was rather slow, with only one visible employee training session held on the giant display floor for the new iPod touch point-of-sale (POS) devices. There were no receptions or friends-and-family parties tonight. At about 6 p..m. Apple’s security team erected 20 feet of stanchions to the right of the front door for the short waiting line: Matthew, Ian and myself. The weather didn’t change all day—about 50 degrees and very gusty winds. It stayed dry until about 8:45 p.m., when it began to sprinkle rain. See a gallery of today’s photos.

About 3 p.m. Sr. V-P Ron Johnson appeared in front of the store, and was talking to other staffers. After a few minutes, Johnson was by himself, and passersby naturally approached him to ask about the store, since he appeared to know something about the store. He gladly explained to each person that it was a new Apple store, and that it would open “tomorrow at 10 a.m.”

One of those passersby who stopped to talk to Johnson was a 13 year-old boy rolling his backpack up the street. Turns out, the boy sings for the Metropolitan Opera, and was on his way to an audition there. Johnson was apparently taken with the boy’s story and his curiosity about the store. He pulled out his cellular phone and arranged with a colleague inside the store to give the youth a quick tour of the store.

At 8:35 p.m. three engines and a tower ladder truck from the New York City Fire Department converged on the Apple store, apparently to investigate a fire alarm. Firefighters went inside to investigate, and others came to the storefront to await a report via radio. They admired the store and posed for a photograph with Matthew.

Around 9 p.m. the cleaning crew set up protective covers over the baseboard stainless steel and on the display table legs, all before starting to wash the stone floor—again.

I expect the waiting line will stall overnight, but will begin to grow starting at around 5 a.m. The last two NYC grand openings were held on Friday nights, so it’s not clear when the line will start growing, or how large a crowd will eventually form.

Camping chairs are certainly acceptable as long as they don’t block the sidewalk. However, once the store opens and the line starts moving inside, it will be difficult to carry a chair into the store.

We continue to hear that there will be some surprises at the grand opening. It’s not clear if that means celebrity appearances, a random give-away or other special feature. However, Apple rarely gives away free merchandise at its retail store openings, and when it does the prizes are generally modest (iTunes gift cards?).

Steve Jobs has not been sighted and there are no indications he will appear at the grand opening.

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