Apple Store Festival Place Basingstoke Opening Day
This morning, an hour before it opened its doors for the first time, we joined the queue outside Apple’s latest store in Festival Place, Basingstoke.
I’d never been to the opening of an Apple Store but figured if they were going to open one just a couple of miles from my house, the least I could do was turn up. Several things about the experience have stuck in my mind…
First, the almost religious fervour than built up as the store opened. The staff (of which there seemed to be dozens) were cheering and running around, the queue were doing Mexican waves (badly) and when the door finally opened each customer had to walk through a gauntlet of cheering, smiling, high-fiving Apple employees. You can see why some people accuse Apple and their fans of being like a cult.
Now, I’m normally a quiet, reserved kind of guy and as I stood watching what was going on ahead of me, began to feel quite embarrassed about even being there, but as I went in I got swept up in the whole thing and didn’t feel as big a clown as I thought I should. In fact the whole thing left me with a positive view of the experience. Everyone seemed to be having a great time, the staff weren’t pressuring anybody into buying stuff – and we all got free t-shirts :) More to the point, I don’t think anybody there will ever forget that it (regardless of what they thought of it).
Another thing that struck me was attention to detail. The free t-shirts could have easily have been handed out in plastic bags but no, each one was in a minimal white cardboard box which when opened, blossomed out in a beautiful origami style to reveal a silver interior with discreet Apple logo at the bottom. The photo above really doesn’t do it justice…
And finally, just how much things have changed for Apple recently. A few years ago you’d have had real trouble trying to find a Macintosh in Basingstoke (about 40 miles outside London for those of you that don’t know). Now we’re spoilt for choice – we have a massive official Apple Store, a smaller unofficial iStore and even HMV has started selling MacBooks & iMacs. That’s three large stores all within a 100 yards of each other… That’s quite an impressive turnaround.