The doors of Apple’s first retail store in New Hampshire opened a few minutes early today to assure its position as the 25th Apple Store to open since CEO Steve Jobs first announced the company’s retail initiative earlier this year. The store opened today at the Rockingham Mall in Salem, NH.
Jobs had said that the company would open 25 stores by the end of the year. It’s now clear Apple will exceed those initial expectations — another store opened today at Palisades in West Nyack, New York (a few minutes after the Rockingham store, according to Apple). Apple’s retail Web page has also been updated with information about the company’s Cambridge, Mass. store, coming soon to Cambridgeside Galleria.
Crowds were light but enthusiastic at the store’s opening. About 125 people showed up for the show’s opening, according to Apple. In tradition style, store employees began to get the crowd roused a few minutes before the opening by clapping and cheering; customers waiting to get in soon followed suit.
Customers came to the store’s opening for myriad reasons. Many came to browse and check out the latest Mac hardware and software; others came to buy new equipment. For others, the simple joy of coming to an Apple Store’s new opening was enough to draw them to the Rockingham Mall.
Tom Brand was the first customer in line this morning. He arrived at the mall around 4:30 this morning and was let in by mall security around 6 am. Brand is a recent Macintosh convert; the Mass. high school student has a strong interest in graphic design. Brand was also the store’s first official customer; he purchased a copy of MacPlay’s Aliens vs. Predator Gold Edition.
One of the first folks waiting in line to get in was none other than Macworld Expo party goddess Ilene Hoffman, who came with friends to see the Rockingham store. Hoffman confirmed with MacCentral that another one of her infamous “The Party Formerly Known As …” Expo parties is planned for next month’s Macworld Expo in San Francisco.
Mac enthusiast Gavin Robb was also an early riser this morning. One of the first few folks in line, Robb spent time surfing on the Web thanks to the Apple Store’s Airport wireless network, which is accessible both within and without the store. Robb has an iBook that he’s customized with a blue Apple logo. Robb explained that the blue logo was created by disassembling the iBook’s screen and inserting a piece of blue cellophane. Robb admitted some trepidation when doing the surgery to his iBook — a procedure obviously not covered under Apple’s warranty. Robb’s partner in crime, Ryan Franke, was here to buy rather than browse — Franke planned to pick up a top-of-the-line PowerBook G4 loaded up with 1GB of RAM.
The manager of the new Apple store is Tisha Rampe, who is also the manager of Apple’s Peabody, Mass. location at the Northshore Mall. She calls Apple’s local retail initiative “absolutely successful.”
“I’m very happy with the way that we’ve been welcomed into the communities that we’re in,” said Rampe.
Rampe explained that Apple Stores aren’t a threat to local resellers, many of whom have an entrenched base of users who are loyal to them. In fact, she said that the Apple Stores offer unique opportunities.
“Resellers provide services that we don’t,” said Rampe. “We try to partner with them, and the Mac Geniuses at our Genius Bar have lists of local resellers. If there’s something we can’t do for customers, or if our customers are looking for something we don’t have, we refer them to those resellers.”
Apple Retail’s regional director Linda Turner told MacCentral that with the 25th store’s opening, they’ve achieved the goal they set out for themselves this year. While she couldn’t provide specific details, Turner said that there are many more retail stores to come.
“We’re in this for the long haul, and we’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far,” said Turner.