First northeast Apple Store opens in Peabody, Ma.

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Apple today opened its first retail store location in the Northeast, at the Northshore Mall in Peabody, Ma. The store's opening was attended by hundreds of Macintosh fans who lined up well into the center of the mall to get in the door.

Folks began to gather at about 2 am to attend the store's opening. The first two folks in line were Euclid Moon and Rajesh Menon, two graduate students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in nearby Cambridge. Menon said that both he and Moon are Mac fans; they use Macs in their work at the prestigious school. Larry Moriuchi was number three -- he showed up a few hours later. Moriuchi planned to fly out of town later this morning, but wanted to be present at the store's opening. "No one lines up like this for a retail opening unless there's a huge sale going on," said Moriuchi.

A quick perusal of the first few hundred customers lined up in the mall showed that folks came from all six New England states -- Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Some folks from as far away as Las Vegas, Nev. and London, England made the trek as well, discovering on vacation or other business that the Apple Store was about to open.

Precisely at 9 am, store co-managers David Naff and Tisha Rampe greeted the first round of customers to enter the store. The store's first official retail customer was Brian Haun, who traveled from Providence, RI to attend the opening. He purchased a copy of GraphSim Entertainment's jet fighter simulation game, F/A-18 Korea Gold, to play on his dual processor Power Mac G4/500MHz system. Haun said that he arrived on the scene at 5 a.m. to attend the opening. "This is the best move I've ever seen Apple make," said an effusive Haun.

The Peabody Apple Store is identical to the other retail stores, with one exception -- it's a mirror image. Architectural considerations -- load-bearing columns -- dictated that the Genius Bar, normally located on the right hand side of the store, be located instead on the left. As a result, the entire store has been switched around to keep the flow similar to other stores.

Otherwise, all the familiar elements are here -- separate solutions areas focused on professional and home applications, making music and editing videos, and a kids' area filled with Snow iMacs pre-set with a selection of games and educational software.

"What I like most about this job is that the people we're selling equipment to consider it the best in the world," added Naff. But Naff, Rampe and their crew are all ready to help the other 95 percent of the population understand the benefits of Mac ownership, too.

"We have a very talented team with great backgrounds in customer service and retail sales," said Naff.

Rampe noted that Massachusetts is very important to Apple, and she expressed high hopes for the store's future. "Mass has the highest concentration of Mac users anywhere in the nation outside of southern California," said Rampe.

Some local Mac users have wondered why Apple chose to open its first store in the Northshore Mall, compared to other retail malls in the area with higher exposure.

"The Northshore Mall is a large, regional shopping mall. It has the same qualities we look for in the other malls we've opened stores in," explain Apple retail COO Kathy Calcidise.

Naff reiterated a theme that will sound familiar to folks familiar with the Apple Store philosophy. "It's not about showing people a plastic box," said Naff. "It's about showing the whole solution. Demonstrating how an iMac works with iMovie and a camcorder, for example."

With so many Mac users in this region, there's already an extensive network of authorized Apple resellers and Apple Specialists in place. Naff and Rampe don't see local resellers as competitors -- instead, they hope to provide them with additional opportunities that they wouldn't have had before.

"We're both trying to create a very strong partnership with local resellers," said Rampe. "We're committed to helping their business grows as ours grows."

"Resellers provide solutions that we don't," explained Naff. Naff explained that Mac customers may need specialized training or help integrating Mac solutions, and that work is beyond the scope of what the Apple Store provides.

"We're excited to see so many people come to the store's opening," Naff told MacCentral. "We have a nice line going here, and we really appreciate everyone's patience. We're just excited to introduce the customers to their store."

This story, "First northeast Apple Store opens in Peabody, Ma." was originally published by PCWorld.

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