Apple fans crisscross world to attend Apple Retail Store grand opening celebrations

“Rain and thunder didn’t deter die-hard Apple Computer fans from gathering in line outside the new Apple store on Fifth Avenue before Friday’s grand opening,” Marguerite Reardon reports for CNET News. “Stormy Shippy, 20, traveled 1,550 miles from his home in Dallas and camped out most of Thursday night and all day Friday on Fifth Avenue with about two dozen other people as thunder rumbled and rain fell on the streets of Manhattan. Wrapped in rain gear, plastic tarps and even trash bags, these hard-core fans sat and stood most of the day waiting for the doors on the 32-foot glass cube, which caps the entrance to the subterranean store, to open at 6 p.m. EST.”

“Like Deadheads, the storied fans of the band Grateful Dead, these Apple fans crisscross the country, and even the world, camping out all night to be among the first people to set foot in new Apple stores. Shippy, who recently graduated from the University of North Texas, was the first in line at the London opening back in November 2004,” Reardon reports. “The Apple stores and grand openings have taken on a life of their own, creating a community of followers. The showy design and architecture of the stores themselves have helped make their openings an event. Gary Allen, the No. 3 man standing in line alongside Shippy, appears to be the ringleader of the Apple groupies. Allen, 58, has traveled from his home in Berkeley, Calif., to 12 Apple store openings in the past five years. His first store opening was in Palo Alto, Calif., in October 2001… Since that first experience, Allen said, he’s gotten hooked. Three years ago he created a Web site to chronicle his Apple store travels. He’s been using free Wi-Fi access in the General Motors Plaza on Fifth Avenue to post pictures and updates to his blog.”

MacDailyNews Note: Allen’s blog is ifoAppleStore and his Fifth Avenue coverage to which we linked earlier today is here: http://ifostore.cachefly.net/fifth_avenue/index.html

Reardon continues, “For Allen and other people standing in line, such as Monte Nutzman, 55, from West Des Moines, Iowa, coming to Apple store openings is more about meeting people and being part of an event than actually seeing what the inside of the store looks like. ‘It’s really a social event,’ Allen said. ‘There are other Apple enthusiasts here, and it’s fun to meet likeminded people. It’s also our way to express our support for what all the employees of Apple do… I’ve seen Steve Jobs at a few of these openings. But it’s a real thrill to see him come here and walk around the glass cube, which he supposedly helped design. I think the cube is fantastic. It’s designed to attract people to the edge, so they can look down into the store. It’s really incredible.'”

Full article here.

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21 Comments

  1. Apple fans crisscross world to confirm status as fanatical cultists.

    I could sort of understand people trekking to the first few store openings–sort of–but now that there are well over a hundred of these stores, what is the big deal? There are three within a 20-minute drive of my house, and they all have the same stuff as the glass cube mecca in NYC (give or take some software titles and iPod crap–I mean, accessories).

    No doubt, next time I’m in New York I’ll check out the store. I went into the Chicago Michigan Avenue store when I happened to walk by it. But coming from other states and countries is ludicrous. It’ll be a lot less crowded in a few days anyway.

  2. dennis,

    You don’t get it. It’s not the store, it’s the community. Many of the die hards know each other – each opening is like a mini Macworld for them. They hang out and talk tech all night and day – it’s nerd tailgating and it’s fun.

    It makes them happy and it sure isn’t hurting anyone – more power to them!

  3. Anybody got a pic from inside the store showing the elevator at the top? That circular elevator reminds me alot of another one in Soho, perhaps the Prada store? Anyway, I’d sure appreciate a glimpse at the hydraulics.

  4. I wandered by the store at about 2pm Friday. I even got a glimpse of Steve Jobs as he went in the front entrance.

    The cube is very cool, structurally. Vertical interior glass panes support the exterior panels. The panels reflected the trees and sky over Central Park. Very nice. The only visual negative are these tacky 3″ x 6″ chrome plates holding the panes together. But as you walk around it, you can see lots of Apple graphics in the store below. It BEGS you to enter. Can’t wait to go inside.

    The glass elevator is like magic! A glass cylinder within a cylinder. WOW! Can’t wait to check out the hydraulic lift system.

    There were a whole string of people sitting on the sidewalk… waiting. Not as many as I’d thought there would be, but a downpour will certainly keep people indoors! Because of the rain gear and tarps the people were using, it looked pretty pathetic. A bit like the homeless soup kitchen lines in the 80’s.

  5. Reality Check – no, not so sad when you appreciate that the CEO’s of Microsoft, Sony, Samsung, Canon and every other modern company aside perhaps from Google, would die to have this kind commitment from their customers.

    Apple is unique. Apple is a passion. Apple is a hobby. Apple is art. Apple is different.

    …and Apple is growing faster than anyone realizes if you measure mindshare rather than sales to date…

  6. James Woods, Kevin Bacon, Spike Lee, (and probably more after I left) stopped by the Apple store to chat with Steve and pick up some MacBooks. After awhile, I’d bet a lot of the people in line were to try to get in to see if they could get autographs. LOL!

    It started out as just a store but quickly became an “event” worthy of anyone looking for a place to socialize and maybe spot some stars.

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