Friday, December 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm.

Grand Central Apple Store is open: Here’s what it’s like

Grand Central Apple StoreI missed Apple’s new retail store opening this morning in New York’s Grand Central Terminal, but my friend Steve Weintraub files this report and these photos. Thanks!

I’ve never been to an Apple Store event. Although I am certainly a long-time fanboy, the idea of standing on line for hours just to get a t-shirt or that first iWhatever seems pretty sad. Nevertheless, I decided, quite spontaneously, to check out this morning’s opening of the Grand Central Terminal store. In fact, I was still sitting at my desk at 9:10 when I decided to go.

A quick subway ride later, I came out on the main concourse. It echoed with whoops and claps from the red-shirted Apple Store staffers who dotted the whole eastern end of the terminal. I was steered down a long access corridor between the tracks. There were roll-up divider ropes between the columns, which must certainly have been installed for this and future Apple Store events. The line was held to one side, while commuters used the other. The line zig-zagged back on itself where I joined up, around 9:30. Redshirts cruised the line, working the crowd. At one point a film crew swooped by with a Steadicam for the obligatory “line video”. Look for me, I’ll be the guy using his iPhone.

Once the line moved to the track exit, we were given silver wrist bands to let us access the store. Redshirts lined either side of the queue, whooping, clapping, high-fiving the crowd as we made our way up the stairs. Once up the steps, we were handed a white box containing a black t-shirt with the GCT type-treatment of the store’s name. The box itself is nifty; it opens up flat, with a green interior echoing the ceiling constellation mural of the Terminal. Expect to find a lot of these on eBay.

The store itself is pretty standard. It’s all about the space it occupies, however. Given the crowd, it was hard to calmly size up the sense of the space, but Apple did a great job of integrating their wares in the Terminal. Everything is at desk level, with just a few discreet wall displays in the various nooks. From the terminal floor, Apple’s presence is nearly invisible. The attention to detail and respect for the building is top-notch. Oh, and it’s huge. It wraps around the whole east balcony, affording wonderful views of the Terminal’s architecture through windows, balustrades and stairwells.

I’m curious how they will handle security. There are more burly guards stationed about than an average store, but given the main entrance is an open stairwell to the concourse of the largest train terminal in the world, I have to think they have other means in place. It will also be interesting to see the vibe of the store once it settles in to the normal routine and flow of train commuters. The free access to unique views of the concourse alone merits another visit.

Grand Central Apple Store

Apple Store Grand Central

Also: Commerce as content, shopping through art