Apple opened its newest retail store, in Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya district, on Saturday to a line of around 2,000 people, some of whom had been waiting more than a day.
The store is Apple’s second in the city and makes Tokyo the first place outside of the U.S. in which Apple has more than one retail location. Apple’s first store in Tokyo, which was also its first in Japan, opened in the Ginza district in November 2003.
Both Shibuya and Ginza are major shopping areas but the type of shoppers they attract is quite different. Ginza is home to large department stores and foreign brands like Hermes and Coach and attracts a generally older and more affluent type of person than Shibuya, which is the cultural and fashion heart of Tokyo for Japanese teens.
With this teen audience as a focus the Shibuya store is heavily promoting music.
“Shibuya is younger and more hip [than Ginza] and so we’re pushing iPod, iTunes Music Store and the iShuffle,” said Steve Cano, regional manager of Apple’s retail business in Japan.
The music products are lined up on both sides as people walk into the store and the first floor also has Apple’s desktop and notebook computers on display. The second floor has a genius bar where Apple staff can answer user’s questions; software; a small kids section and other peripherals.
The store opened at 10 a.m., but the first few people in the queue had been waiting since around 5 a.m. on Friday morning — 29 hours before the store opened. The store opening didn’t help shrink the queue at first. Space limitations meant store staff had to regulate the number of people allowed inside at one time, leaving many waiting outside in the stifling Japanese summer heat.
Inside the air-conditioned store, temperatures were cooler but sales were hot. Lines several people deep were queuing at the checkout counters on both the first and second floor. Apple’s just-launched Mighty Mouse appeared to be an early best-seller with many people clutching one as they waited in line. At least one product, a Shibuya-design iPod case, sold-out.
The Shibuya store is Apple’s fourth in Japan and at least two more are planned for the country, said Cano. They’ll be in Sendai, north of Tokyo, and Fukuoka, in western Japan. Cano wouldn’t reveal future plans beyond those stores.
Japan is one of three target markets for future retail investment, said Ron Johnson, Apple’s senior vice president of retail.
“Apple is committed to adding stores where we think there is a great market opportunity,” he said. Right now those markets are Japan, North America and the U.K., he said.