Mac users in the Memphis, TN area certainly aren’t feeling the blues today. A new
Apple retail store in Germantown, located outside of Memphis, is now open for business.
Despite torrential downpours, flood warnings, tornado warnings and hazardous materials warnings (Memphis is a major transportation/distribution hub), almost 120 Mac fans were on hand when the Germantown store opened at 10 am. Not only did they come from the west Tennessee area, some came from hundreds of miles away.
Brian Watson made the longest trip. He drove 450 miles from Urban, IL. Scott Blasl of Heber Springs, ARK (150 miles from Germantown) was the first in line to get into the store. He arrived at 3:30 am. Others began arriving at 6 am.
Germantown is an affluent community, but there’s plenty of down-home Southern charm in the town as well as at the new Apple retail store, thanks to folks like Manager, Paul Benoit and “Genius” Tim Bouton.
The store is located in the Shops of Saddle Creek shopping center, 7615 West Farmington. Other tenants of the center are the Bombay Company, Origins, Liz Clairborne, Gloria Jean’s, Sharper Image, J. Crew, Williams-Sonoma, Mori Luggage, Eddie Bauer, The Gap, Ann Taylor, Gymboree, Indigo, Miguel’s, Structure, and Talbots among others.
The Germantown store is arranged like all Apple retail stores, except for a slight signage difference — more on that in a moment. The Apple store is organized into sections that make it easy for both first time and experienced Mac users.
The first 25 percent of the store is dedicated to Apple’s product lines (the Pro and Home sections). The middle half of the store is dedicated to, thankfully, solutions in such areas as movie, music, kids and photos. The back part of the store is home to the Genius Bar and the theater.
Each Apple store will have a minimum of six staffers on hand. Up to 13 may be around during the busiest hours (probably weekends). When it comes to solutions, Apple will showcase what it determines are the best six products in the digital camera, digital camcorder, PDA, printer and MP3 player category.
Now about that signage issue. As has been widely reported, Apple and the Germantown Design Review Commission had disagreements over the way that the typical Apple retail store signage violates the city’s sign ordinance. Apple’s logo incorporates, not surprisingly, an apple design and Germantown’s sign ordinance doesn’t allow food items on signs. Apple got a variance on this one since it’s obviously not selling groceries.
However, there was another problem: Apple wanted to illuminate its logo and Germantown’s sign ordinance doesn’t allow internal illumination of signs. The solution: the store’s two big Apple logos are lit on the inside of the store, but not illuminated on the outside.
“We’re happy to be here and have the doors open,” Allen Olivo, Apple’s senior director of retail marketing, told MacCentral. “We’re here for the long term. Both Apple and Germantown have strong points of view and we appreciate that. The situation has been worked out, and we’re ready to get people here in the store.”
Not only does Apple want to get customers in the store, but also Apple resellers. On Thursday afternoon, such resellers in the Memphis area, as well as Mark Gregory from the Mac Authority in Nashville, were invited to the retail store for a look.
“We want Apple retail stores to be the engine that drives sales for all Apple resellers,” Olivo said. “We not only want to serve Mac users, but also to attract PC users to Apple products. We can be a referral system for other resellers, help us all grow and increase our marketshare.”
Though Apple retail stores are designed to be profitable, the focus isn’t on sales. It’s on service, Olivo said.
“Naturally, we want to sell products here and make a profit,” he explained. “However, we plan on doing that through great service, building great relationships and just providing good conversation.”
In fact, at the Genius Bar you can get a bottle of Evian water along with your free advice. The geniuses on hand are experts in both technology and consumer needs, Olivo said.
The geniuses in the Germantown retail store also have other areas of expertise. If you’re in the neighborhood, drop by and ask for the best local barbeque joint. But be warned: since the Memphis area is famous for its barbeque, you could be in for a long conversation.
Apple also opened a store in
Albany, NY today.