Tag Archives: Retail Stores

Apple’s Greatest Product Ever Ships Friday

I waded into the mob at my tiny, local Apple store recently and actually heard someone say: “Wow: It’s like Grand Central Station in here.”

This Friday, the real “Grand Central Station,” which is actually called Grand Central Terminal, will itself become an Apple Store.

Of everything Apple has ever “shipped,” I think the store at Grand Central will be the greatest. Here’s why.

The world’s largest Apple Store will live inside the world’s largest train station in America’s biggest city. The station has 44 platforms and 67 tracks. Some three-quarters of a million humans pass through Grand Central Terminal every day. The Apple store will occupy 23,000 square feet.

Located at 42nd and Park in Manhattan, Grand Central Terminal was built between 1903 and 1913.

The Apple Store will not be enclosed in glass, but open on an amazing balcony overlooking the Main Concourse of Grand Central Terminal.

The open store will be visible to everyone walking through the Main Concourse and accessible via a sweeping grand two-part staircase. It will occupy the entire width of the East Balcony overlooking the Main Concourse, and spill over to the right, using up an adjacent part of the South Balcony.

To the left, the store will wrap around in an L shape to occupy half of the North Balcony.

The ceiling in Grand Central soars 125 feet above the concourse floor. The experience of being in the Apple will be utterly breathtaking. Visitors looking out a cross the balcony from one part of the store will be able to see the other part of the store across the empty space of the Main Concourse.

The Apple Store, which represents the most modern iconic retail aesthetic around today, will both contrast with and honor the architectural grandeur of Grand Central, built in a French neoclassical style called Beaux Arts.

One key attribute of this style is a deliberate ranking of interior spaces, from everyday, functional spaces to “noble spaces.” The most noble of spaces in Grand Central are two elaborate staircases on the Western and Eastern ends of the Main Concourse, which were modeled after staircases in the Paris Opera House. The Eastern one conveys you directly into the Apple Store.

Of course, the store will have Apple’s signature minimalist aesthetic. But it will be lit with enormous gold-plated, melon-shaped chandeliers suspended from the high ceiling. “Today” and “100 years ago” will co-exist in a breathtaking, unprecedented architectural mashup.

The Apple store presents an homage to Grand Central, unlike previous occupants. Apple will hang an understated lighted Apple logo — very small for the space — where a gigantic, garish lighted sign for Kodak Colorama hung from 1950 to 1990, “obliterating the integrity of its host architecture,” according to Paul Gunther, President of the Institute of Classical Architecture.

The Apple store will not obliterate the integrity of Grand Central, but highlight and re-enforce it. Gunther wrote that “The new Apple store is cultural memory writ large, resulting in a renewal of artistic appreciation for a place at risk of being taken for granted.”

Why the MTA Controversy Will Fade Away

A controversy erupted recently in New York over the deal Apple negotiated with the state’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), which runs Grand Central. New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced that his office will audit the MTA to make sure they’re not playing favorites.

Apple is renting the space for $1 million per year, which figures out to $60 per square foot. Other tenants are paying up to $200 per square foot. And while most tenants pay the MTA a small percentage of sales, Apple will not.

The MTA argues, however, that Apple’s low square footage cost is only part of the story. The previous tenant of the Apple Store space, a restaurant called Métrazur, paid one-quarter what Apple will pay, according to the MTA. Apple also paid $5 million to buy out the restaurant’s lease. When you factor that in, Apple will be paying $180 per square foot per year.

The MTA also points out that Apple will spend $2.5 million in permanent improvements to the terminal.

The biggest reason the MTA appears excited about the Apple Store deal is that it’s expected to drive additional business to all shops and restaurants in Grand Central. MTA expects Apple to bring in not only more customers, but younger and wealthier ones, who will also shop in the other terminal stores while they’re in there.

The biggest train stations and airports are becoming shopping malls. And the economics of shopping malls demand an “anchor” tenant. And Apple will become Grand Central’s anchor.

The reason I love the new store is because it combines several other loves: New York City, Grand Central Station, architecture, history and Apple itself, not to mention materialist capitalism. All these things will come together for a retail experience like no other in the world.

My prediction is that when the Grand Central Apple Store opens this Friday, all the controversy and criticism will be swashed away, and the store will become a source of pride and awe for New York City, and the millions of people who visit each year.

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New Grand Central store lease shows Apple’s retail power

Apple is a retail behemoth in this country, and it’s exerting its power in the lease for its newest flagship New York City store. According to the New York Post, for the Apple Store set to open next week in Grand Central Terminal, the company has secured one of the lowest rents of all other retailers in the building, and will not pay its landlord the Metropolitan Transportation Authority any percentage of its sales, resulting in a situation that’s being called “unique.”

Apple will pay $60 per square foot for the 23,000 square-foot space. It’s apparently the best lease held among all other retail stores open for business in the transportation center. According to the Post:

Critics likewise note that Apple’s $60-a-square-foot lease is well below what many other tenants are paying — including a future Shake Shack burger joint that will be shelling out more than $200 a square foot, according to the leases, copies of which have been obtained by The Post.

That’s a sign that Apple drove a hard bargain with the MTA — despite the fact that the public agency’s budget squeezes are pushing up fares for subway straphangers and suburban commuters across the region.

Apple will also not be required to share any of its profits with the MTA, which differs with the lease agreements of every other Grand Central tenant with the exception of a Chase bank ATM, according to the report.

To give an idea of how much extra Apple will be able to keep under this arrangement, consider that Apple does about $400 million in sales in its other flagship NYC store on 5th Avenue, which is 10,000 square feet and open 24 hours a day. With the standard arrangement in place to pay a certain amount in proceeds to its landlord for that store, Apple has paid $15 million on that $400 million. The Grand Central store will have more than twice the square footage of the 5th Avenue location.

This is sort of like how wealthy celebrities are the ones constantly being given a bunch of free stuff: Even though they can afford to buy what’s being given away, brands want to give them stuff because the allure of a famous person using your product can bring other benefits to the brand. The MTA is saying it’s happy with the deal, because it will “generate significant new traffic” for other retailers when shoppers wander in to find the Apple Store.

But it’s also yet another way to gauge the kind of power and influence Apple wields in retail. In 10 years Apple stores have gone from being predicted to fail to bringing in more revenue per square foot than any other major retailer, and being the must-have store for major retail complexes.

Image courtesy of Flickr user ceiling

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Microsoft Steps on Apple Turf with First Northern California Store

Microsoft opened doors on its first retail store in Northern California just a few steps away from an Apple store.

Apple employees at the Westfield Valley Fair mall in Santa Clara must have had a strong sense of  déjà vu watching people camp outside waiting for the doors to open on Microsoft’s 4,000-square-foot shop today. The proximity is unlikely to go unnoticed, since the mall is about 7 miles away from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters.

“I feel bad for those guys in Apple,” said Blake Contreras, a 12-year-old from San Jose who stayed overnight so he could be first in line for the grand opening. “Microsoft’s having this big party and the Apple employees just have to sit there and watch.”

Tellingly, the buzz at the Microsoft retail store isn’t about the computers.

Fans waited in line overnight for swag and tickets to free concerts (The Black Keys and Joe Jonas) plus a chance to meet the artists. Pairs of tickets were given away to the first 700 people, assuring that there will be a good crowd for both of the concerts in this pre-holiday shopping weekend. If that weren’t enough to get people in, football legend Joe Montana is playing a Kinect tournament in the store Friday night.

The one event tied to a product makes me wonder whether getting people in to a Microsoft store to actually buy stuff may the real challenge.

Love thy neighbor could take on a whole new meaning if people wander through Microsoft and buy from Apple instead.

Via Inside Bay Area

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iPad Pinkie Ripper Gets 25 Years in Jail, Apologizes

A 22-year-old man got a 25-year jail sentence for a ripping off part of a man’s pinkie while stealing an iPad.

The Denver Post reported that Brandon Smith apologized to the victim, Bill Jordan, who did not appear in court for the sentencing hearing “because he fears for his life.”

The scales looked weighted after Brandon Smith reportedly thought his theft case would go away if the victim was ‘eliminated.’
“I would like to say I am sorry for what I did for messing up Bill Jordan’s finger and everything,” Smith said during his hearing. “All of this was motivated by drugs. I wish Bill Jordan were here today so he could hear me tell him I am sorry.”

Starting from square one: In 2010, Bill Jordan, then 59, had part of his finger amputated after Brandon Smith wrested a just-purchased iPad from him in the parking lot outside Denver’s Cherry Creek Mall store in April.
The Apple bag was looped around Jordan’s hand and the thief jerked hard several times to get it off — so hard that flesh came of Jordan’s left pinky.
A surgeon later amputated part of the damaged little finger on his dominant hand. In a jail interview last summer, Smith said he started stealing when he was 15 to support a heroin and meth habit.
Smilth pleaded guilty in September to aggravated robbery and second-degree assault.

Via Denver Post

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Italian Apple Employees Strike Before iPhone 4S Launch

The iPhone 4S arrives in Italy today – along with another 22 countries – and the Italians are so into it, they are apparently standing in orderly lines to get it.*

Outside the Roma Est store in the country’s capital, however, Apple employees went on strike.


The unidentified leader in this video from blog iSpazio says they have decide to “strike different” – as their banner and T-shirts say – because they have asked store management to meet a series of demands, but management met with them once and then refused to keep talking.  (The rest of the banner slogan is catchy, but lost in translation – “Noi della mela siamo andati alla frutta” – loosely translates to “Apple employees have had it.”)

Checking out the union page referenced on their T-shirts, demands include asking for more sales staff due to high store traffic, a monthly fixed bonus scheme for all of €200 (about $280) since employee duties are often mixed and limiting video surveillance to safety and loss prevention instead of tracking employees.

“We’re out here because we want to open up dialogue,” the group leader says. “[Apple] is a company that can provide these benefits and better the work place.”

Via iSpazio

*NB. I say this as an Italian citizen. Line jumping and disorderly crowding comes with the territory.


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Apple Store Opens in Sicily [Video]

Domenico Panacea – you may remember him from the LED Apple logo t-shirt -  shot a nice video of the opening of the first Apple store to disembark on the isle of Sicily in Italy at the foot of Mount Etna, the Apple Store Centro Sicilia.

With 40-50 Apple stores opening every year,  you’ve seen dozens of these opening videos.  The “It’s a Small World” aspect always jumps out — same hundreds guys in line all night who tell the cameras they are”tired but excited” about the store, same cheers from Apple staff, same crush of photographers, same interior design for the store.

And then you start looking for cultural minutiae – are the three girls in sunny Sicily (everyone is still in short sleeves there) better looking than the ones who showed up for the recent opening of the Toronto store? Is that a soccer stadium chant from the Italian crowd at about a minute in? (Domenico confirms: it’s a stadium chant for local team Catania, modified to be about Apple, which roughly translates to something like “All for the Apple Store Catania!” Go rossazzurri!)

Are the nerd glasses more fashionable in Italy or just a little more conservative than at recent German store opening? What are those “I Love Jailbreak” T-shirts about in the Sicilian crowd? hmmm.

There’s a sociology paper in there, somewhere –  “Psychoacoustic, Metamorphic Archetypes as evidenced in Global Retailing?”

Via MacCity

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Apple Stores in New York Still Closed Post Irene

Apple stores are expected to reopen today, August 29, after being shuttered complete with designer sandbags over the weekend, but Apple’s website advises people to call ahead for opening hours.

“We will reopen Monday, August 29. Please call the store for details regarding opening time.”

First person to send us pics from the re-opened Apple stores wins something!

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