New York Times Documents San Francisco Store Opening

On Saturday Appleis newest flagship store opened itis doors in the heart of San Francisco. Roughly 7,000 people passed through the doors that day. The New York Timesi Christopher Hawthorne examined the event in his latest column:

"The appeal is you get to hang out all night long and just talk to people," said Ulan McKnight, a bleary-eyed Web developer from Berkeley who arrived at 9 p.m. on Thursday, 37 hours before opening time, to secure a place at the very front. Saturday was Mr. McKnightis 40th birthday. But camping out on the sidewalk isnit something he does only to mark personal milestones: he was also first in line for the opening of the Apple store in SoHo in New York, in July 2002.

Still, this event had a special buzz, Mr. McKnight and others said. After all, the San Francisco Bay Area is the absolute center of Apple mania, and the companyis headquarters are just south of here, in Cupertino. That proximity was enough to ensure the attendance of company officials including Steve Jobs, the chief executive, on Saturday.

Along with the other 199 people who were the first to enter on Saturday, Mr. McKnight was given the chance to buy a gift bag of Apple merchandise, valued at $600 to $1,000, for $249. By Tuesday afternoon, at least three were available on eBay, with bids of $415 to $445.

Mr. Hawthorne, however, goes beyond the usual coverage of the excitement at Apple Store openings. Design is of major concern to Apple, and in the case of their stores they also maintained a great deal of creative direction:

The storesi design is credited, officially, to Mr. Jobs rather than to an architecture firm. That suggests not his level of architectural training (he has none) but the degree to which the company considers design a priority. When pressed, Apple officials will admit that the firm of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, which worked on the store in New York, had a hand in this one as well.

"We didnit want anything fussy here," Mr. Jobs said, standing just inside the front door on Saturday as fans poured in and swarmed the displays. "Look at this staircase. Itis design fused with engineering ? glass holding up glass."

Asked if he had been inspired by designers from the Bauhaus, or any other modernist architects whose spare aesthetic seemed to resonate through the store, Mr. Jobs laughed.

"No, no, no," he said, adding three or four more "nos" for good measure. "Weire doing our own thing."

More information on the grand opening of the San Francisco store can be found in the original New York Times article (free subscription required).