Inside The Plano Apple Store, 5 Days After Opening

This Wednesday, I had the great pleasure of meeting our own Wincent Colaiuta in Dallas, Tx. Wincent is an Aussie, and as such, lives in Australia, so when he told me he would be in Dallas for a Golden Key Honor Society convention this week, I jumped at the opportunity to travel to Dallas to meet this geekis geek in the flesh. For those wondering, Wincent is a cool as he is Mac OS X savvy.

So what do two Mac geeks do when meeting in a strange city for the first time? Why, they head to the nearest Apple Store! Fortunately, the Plano store was only 30 minutes and US$2.70 in tolls away from Wincentis hotel. This then, is our report.

The Apple Store in Plano opened last Friday to great fanfare. It was Appleis third retail store to open, and as it was for the first two units, there were people lining up from here to next Wednesday, everyone was pumped, and Good Vibrations were in the air. Thatis great to hear, and every Mac user and AAPL stock holder is pretty excited, but long term performance is the key to the Apple Stores being successful. If our look at the store on Wednesday, August 8th, is any indication, interest in the store will not be limited to the opening day.

We spent an hour in the store talking to customers, talking to employees, and listening to some of the presentations. During that hour, there were always 40-50 customers in the store. This was from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM on a Wednesday night and the rest of the Willow Bend shopping center was not as busy as the Apple Store. Better yet, these customers were ranged throughout the store and were literally taking advantage of all of Appleis offerings. Many were being helped by the dozen or so Apple employees in the store, and we were greeted three times by people who all seemed genuinely happy that we were there.

Talking to one of the sales persons at the store, we were told that sales have been brisk since the opening, and that store employees were pleased by the customer reaction so far.

Another pleasant surprise were the number of young children that were in the store. There were many of them, and due to the special kids area in the store, they were all happily playing with iMacs. Apple has obviously found a compelling experience to offer to kids, and the overall effect was that the kids had a good time without disturbing the shopping experience of the other customers. That is no small task in a retail environment. Even more impressive was how quickly store personnel could put the kids area back into shape the moment the children left the area.

We also saw that the Genius Bar was getting a good workout. There were always one to three people at the Bar asking questions. Next to the Genius Bar, the Apple Store has a presentation area. During our visit to the store, an Apple employee was offering presentations for iTunes and Mac OS X. The presenter was well rehearsed and was able to answer questions. He was also entertaining, which again is no easy task in a retail environment.

The store was clean, well organized (at the end of the day, too), well stocked, well staffed, and staffed by people who obviously cared about their jobs. It was chock full of customers who were busily engaged with store personnel or merchandise, buying merchandise, or listening in to the presentations. By any standard, these are the marks of a successful retail store.