Mac Users Turn Out In Force For After-Thanksgiving In-Store "Free Stocking Stuffer" Event

| Reports

Appleis in-store event last Friday was another success. The company held its after-Thanksgiving "Hello Stocking" event at all of its 50 retail operations. Based on the successful midnight Jaguar event held in August, Fridayis event was also a success, if not as big as the Jaguar roll out.

At the Valley Fair Apple Store in Santa Clara, California, minutes away from Appleis Cupertino headquarters, people began lining up shortly after the store closed its doors at 5:00 PM in order to prepare for the 6:00 - 11:00 re-opening. A waiting line persisted until after 7:00 PM, and the crowds inside the store showed no signs of lessening.

Jim Dyer, who was first in line, was already at the mall when he found out about the event from an Apple store employee. Other attendees were there after finding out from Mac Web sites, as well as Appleis e-mail announcements. Appleis promise to hand out "free stocking stuffers" was another draw. "Iim here because I heard there was free stuff," a customer named Lincoln told us. He, along with his father, also named Lincoln, and his friend James consider themselves to be "total Mac nuts."

Apple gave every person who came in during the 5 hour event a large magnet designed by Rex Ray. A matching mouse and wrapping paper was also given to customers who purchased US$50 or more.

A drawing for a free iMac helped draw in Justine, and her two daughters, Brea and Heather. While her two daughters arenit hardcore Mac users, Justine had to come "because itis a Mac thing."

Similarly, Kent brought his girlfriend Sandy along. He was eyeing a new camera to go along with his new 1.25 GHz dual processor PowerMac.

Dennis, a former Linux developer, was there looking at .Mac for himself, and maybe an iPod, as well as presents for family. Later, he fessed up to us that he was also hoping to win the iMac.

Apple surprised attendees to the event with special pricing on 10 items. The offers ranged from US$111 off of a 17" iMac, to Jaguar for only US$98, to .Mac for US$68, and other deals on printers, speakers, and a mini-DV camera. Apple promoted the special pricing with handouts and a slide presentation on the Apple Store screen. The deals were available only during the 5-hour event, and according to an Apple spokesperson, were the hot items of the night for customers.

An Apple executive on hand for the event told TMO that the event was a success across the country. "Weire extremely happy with the turnout," she said. Offering a hint of other events in the future, she also told us "these events are only going to get bigger."

While the crowds couldnit match the Jaguar event, that is largely because of the anticipation surrounding Jaguar itself, a new product. Friday nightis promotion wasnit promising a new product, and was an experiment by the company to see if large crowds could still be pulled. With the results, Apple is proving that its retail strategy is solid. The people we spoke with were quite happy about the platform, interested in the promotional pricing, though they werenit anticipating it, and happy to be at an Apple event.

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