Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Senior Vice President of Ron Johnson led reporters through Apple’s
newest retail store
this past week. The 32nd Apple Store location is at the corner of Prince and Greene Streets in New York’s trendy SoHo neighborhood.
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Jobs told reporters at an invitation only event that he first saw the location of Apple’s latest retail store three years ago. Apparently he spied the location — an old post office — during a walk around the neighborhood while Jobs was at Macworld Expo.
While the layout of the store will be immediately familiar to folks who have visited other Apple retail locations, the scale of the store is quite large, comparatively — about 15,000 square feet of retail space. Architect Peter Bohlin of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson was careful to retain the character of the original structure with what makes the Apple stores unique.
What makes the SoHo store different from other locations is its two-story layout. Areas with machines for home and pro users are set up on the first floor, with information helping PC users to make the switch to Mac lining one wall. Large countertops sport the latest Apple hardware, including the new 17-inch iMac, which was just announced this week. The second level features accessories and software, a kid’s gaming area, the Genius Bar and an Apple Theater unlike any other so far.
Jobs explained that more than 100,000 customers a week pass through the Apple Stores nationwide — the equivalent of twice the total number of folks expected at Macworld Conference & Expo this week. The Prince and Greene location was chosen specifically because many Mac-using pros and consumers — as well as those that use PCs — live near the store. “It was either this or 5th Avenue and this feels more like us,” he said.
Jobs pointed out that the glass staircase that serves as the focal point when you first enter the store is unique, as well. It’s comprised entirely of glass, apparently the first of its kind in the world, and it reflects the sunlight which pours in from a giant skylight in the roof — an embellishment not originally in the building’s design plans, according to Jobs. The combined effect is to welcome users to visit the upstairs part of the store.
The theater, too, is unique. While theaters in other Apple stores have featured a few flat benches that surround a projection screen, this one has 46 movie-style folding chairs — backed with maple to match the floors, desks and shelves, but lined with comfy red velvet cushions.
The store stocks more than 1,000 software titles. This is significantly more than any other store, running the gamut from productivity software to utilities, educational software to games to development tools.
The SoHo location’s Genius Bar is unlike any other too. It’s 40 feet long, and it’s broken up into two sections to help more efficiently serve customers who come in to ask questions or seek help. Likewise, the kids’ gaming area is larger than other Apple stores, and features eMacs in place of the snow iMacs that have populated previous store locations. Johnson told MacCentral this is a change they will be making with other stores going forward.