This year is supposed to bring major expansion to Apple’s international retail presence. I have seen this firsthand, as today marked the opening of the 15th UK Apple Store, this one in the “Grand Arcade” in Cambridge.
Whilst this is not really headline news by iLounge standards, it’s personally important for me as it now means I don’t have to travel an hour and a half to get to an actual Apple Store. Or send my iMac in for 10 days when it needs a repair.
As the opening also coincided with the that of the Grand Arcade, a new expansion of a local shopping mall, the numbers of people attending the event were quite high. Even so, there was a queue set aside solely for the Apple Store once visitors were inside the mall. It’s hard to make out from all the other foot traffic, but it was there.
In keeping with previous Apple Store opening events, the first 1,000 visitors through the door were given a free black T-shirt, bearing the usual Apple logo and “Grand Arcade” on the front, and entry to the Grand Opening Sweepstakes to win a 13-inch black MacBook and a silver 4GB iPod nano. Once inside, there were no surprises in terms of inventory, but it was nice to have access to some of the accessories I’m used to finding only in London, Bluewater or San Francisco locations of the Store when I make my way there. The store layout and displays followed the Apple corporate look, though one difference to the stores I have visited, was the apparent lack of a till point (cash register). Staff were equipped with portable card readers in holsters although, when I asked, I was informed that there was a till at the rear of the store where the Genius Bar was located.
There was certainly a good turn out for the Apple Store, such that the free T-shirts had all been handed out by the end of the first hour, accompanied of course by the obligatory clapping and cheering from store staff. One of the staff said that they were pleased at the level of attendance at the event. If it’s anything like other Apple Stores I’ve visited, this will be the first busy day of many yet to come.