“Fans of the iPod and Macintosh computer stalk Apple stores like celebrities. They track rumored openings on the Web and snap pictures of themselves outside the stores like they’re at the Empire State Building,” Christine Laue reports for The Omaha World-Herald.
“For Apple enthusiasts, the expected opening of Apple’s first Nebraska store, at Omaha’s Village Pointe shopping center, is as exciting as the city landing its first Williams Sonoma or Pottery Barn,” Laue reports.”That’s partly because these are, after all, people who save their iPod and Mac boxes like sacred love letters and follow CEO Steve Jobs’ every move. One Omahan even got an Apple logo tattooed on her lower abdomen. It’s also because many Apple fans crave more than just Apple products, which already are available at other Omaha stores. It’s kind of like coffee lovers — they can buy coffee beans from a grocery store, but many prefer the comfy couch, smiling barista and frothy latte of a coffeehouse.”
Laue reports, “Customer service is the main reason Iowa State University sophomore Katie Pruisner has visited the West Des Moines Apple store [Apple Store Jordan Creek]at least 20 times. ‘You’re completely welcomed,’ she said one recent weekday at West Des Moines’ Jordan Creek Town Center Apple store, the closest Apple store to Omaha. ‘If one person can’t help you, someone else will.’ She doesn’t feel pressured to buy something. Her mom once stopped at the store en route to a ballgame to check the weather on the Internet. ‘They asked, ‘Can we help you?’ She was like, ‘No, I’m just checking the weather,” Pruisner recalled. ‘Most places, like an electronics store, they follow you around and they want to make sure you’re not hurting their equipment.'”
“‘They have better support and hands-on knowledge,’ said Chad Hedrick, an Omaha sales manager shopping at the store while in town on business. ‘I wouldn’t have had to come here today if there was one in Omaha,'” Laue reports. “Analysts say Apple stores are doing well, and the company’s rapid retail expansion offers evidence. Apple has opened 156 stores worldwide since its first store debuted in 2001.”
Laue reports, “Electronics retailers who sell iPods and Macs provide the product, but they don’t connect with customers as emotionally as Apple stores do, said branding expert and author Marc Gobe, chairman and CEO of Desgrippes Gobe, a branding consultancy in New York City. ‘There is not one retailer from Bloomingdale’s to the Limited that is not looking at Apple and . . . trying to figure out why they are so successful,’ Gobe said. ‘People want emotional experience. They want the charisma that can only come through an Apple retail environment.'”
“Erik Pedersen, a 33-year-old Omaha radiologist, is skeptical of marketing — but loves Apple’s. He especially likes the TV ads in which a laid-back, hip twentysomething represents Apple and a stodgy older man in a business suit represents other personal computers,” Laue reports. “The computers are compelling, he said, and work intuitively, letting him focus on paying bills or editing home video of his three kids instead of fixing technological glitches. Pedersen just returned from a family reunion and edited 400 digital photographs for a family Web site. ‘I’m going to be able to do this in an hour, where if I had to do it on a Windows PC, it would take longer,’ he said.”
“So, unless Apple fails him, he’ll keep logging onto the CEO’s keynote speeches to hear about the latest Apple innovation. He’ll keep reading Apple rumors Web sites every day. And he’ll go to the Apple stores,” Laue reports. “Just like the boxes, he can’t bear to get rid of old iPods and Macs. He passes them on to his wife or kids — he even made one into a picture frame. ‘I will run them till they die,’ he said, laughing. ‘You get emotionally attached.'”
Full article here.
“The space for the future Apple store at the Village Pointe (Omaha, Neb.) mall is empty, but building materials have arrived and work on the storefront is half completed. Photos show the black-painted construction barricade, topped by the metal support framework for the stainless steel façade, the interior and crates of building materials outside the store,” ifoAppleStore reports. “Appeared as a job location March 1, 2006. Job listings appeared on Monster.com on March 28th. Construction well underway in space #127, with a grand opening on Sept. 23rd.”