Store Opening Recalls Early Days, Steve Jobs Visits

October 27, 2012

The nostalgia was thick at the grand re-opening of the Palo Alto (N. Calif.) Apple store today, as employees fondly recalled the 2001 opening of the original store and the frequent visits by the late Steve Jobs, who lived within walking distance of the store. The re-opening was particularly memorable for Steve Cano, the store’s first manager back in October 2001, who was seen frequently hugging other employees during the pre-opening ceremonies. Cano is now the Sr. Director of International Retail, and was frequently mentioned—at least in unofficial circles—as a replacement for former Sr. V-P Retail Ron Johnson after he left the company last year. Several other original employees were present, including many who have since been promoted to store management positions. About 500 store enthusiasts were in line for the 10 a.m. opening, including at least two people wearing white commemorative T-shirts from the original store opening. Several among the first 20 in line were identified as “scalpers,” hoping to buy an iPhone 5 and resell it for a profit. The new store is a smaller, near-twin of the Upper West Side (NYC) store, and next year will become the sister store of the Third Street Promenade 2 (S. Calif.) now under construction. All three stores stores feature a large retail space surrounded on three sides by tall stone walls and topped with an arched glass roof. The expanded Palo Alto store has about 16,600 square-feet, including a basement and a back-of-house space that includes a Briefing Room. The stone floor and wood display tables are standard, as is the off-green color scheme of the roof support hardware. The Genius Bar at the rear of the store adheres to Apple’s new 360° access concept, allowing customers and employees to work anywhere around the perimeter of the wide table.

View a gallery of photos of the waiting line and the store’s architecture from the grand opening.

The store provides an infinite variety of views, both based on interior and exterior, location within the store, time of day, weather and season. Sunlight and shadows dominate the interior view during the day, while reflections off the glass and the artificial light grab your attention after dark.

There are a couple of differences from the master UWS design visible at Palo Alto 2, including the store’s air handling system. Instead of moving air through holes cut in the stone floor under the display tables, air circulates through holes cut in the stainless steel under the side wall display counters. Unlike the angled cut of the UWS storefront, the Palo Alto store is at right angles to the street.

The re-opening prompted unusual coverage by Apple’s contract photo and video teams, who usually only attend openings for larger and international stores. The visual coverage is used internally, although some video of store openings does occasionally appear during Apple event keynotes. There was no coverage of the grand opening ceremony by any of the Bay Area’s TV stations.

An hour after the grand opening Cano was seen walking past the original store’s location two blocks away. The windows of the former location are covered with black plastic, and white lettering directs passersby to the new store.

Apple CEO Tim Cook arrived at the store about noon to celebrate the opening, sporting a black shirt with a white Apple logo.

Palo Alto store manager Steve Cano welcomes the first visitors into the original Palo Alto store in this still frame from a video of the October 2001 grand opening.

Steve Cano talks to Palo Alto store manager Bahandir Cinar (right) after the grand opening of the new location.

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