“Dang, look at the line for H&M”, a woman comments to her friend. Fortunately for her fashion desires, she was incorrect. The line of hundreds, which snaked through Pacific Centre, out onto Granville Street, and around down Georgia Street, were the Apple faithful, waiting for opening of Western Canada’s first Apple Retail Store in the Pacific Centre mall, downtown Vancouver. She could be forgiven for her error, as it didn’t look the kind of geek line you would see at a Star Wars convention or video game release. This was different, these were the Mac geeks.
One minute before opening, the lights in the store go off and the crowd simultaneously “ooohs”. After a short time, cheering and clapping erupts from inside the store, the t-shirt clad employees leading the ruckus. With no speech or fanfare, the door is opened and lights are turned on. The line-waiters are let in, each given a boxed t-shirt before being high-fived by the line of cheering Store employees. The excitement, primarily driven by the employees, was palpable.
The store itself shares the innovative and refined design common to all of Apple’s 200+ stores. There is no sign on the front that says “Apple Store”, only a glowing Apple logo, casting a gaze across the mallscape. There is also no checkout counter or cash registers; purchases are handled by employees with handheld point of sale devices. The Genius Bar at the rear provides support, with the option to book an appointment. The aluminum walls, concrete floors, and smooth, bold lighting suggest a level of detail that Steve Jobs himself had a hand in. The space appears small, but is very deep and open.
Local Mac fan/professional John Biehler was there, somewhere around 20th in line. In his post on the event, he makes the interesting observation that the store carried iPhone accessories, despite the lack of official (but pending) iPhone availability in Canada.
You may want to wait a week for the hype to die down before bringing in your broken iPod, but for now, watch the video or browse the photos (after the jump) to see the line, the cheering, and the store. Watch closely, and see if you can spot local bloggers/tech-folk such as James, Roland, Phillip, and Dave Shea.