By Patrick Avenell in Canberra
With the doors finally opened and the Geniuses in gauntlet formation, young brothers Tait and Flynn became the first customer of Apple’s first Retail Store in Australia’s capital city.
Such is the appeal of this store openings, the boys had travelled almost 370 kilometres from their home in Kincumber, to be in Canberra for the gala launch of the Californian company’s 16th outlet.
When asked why they would make such an effort, Flynn said it was for the “excitement”, much of which is carefully manufactured and stage-managed by Apple Australia’s local staff. In fact, although there was a remarkably long queue for a sleepy Saturday morning in frostbitten Canberra, there was very little fan excitement; certainly nothing to match the bizarre drum circle and chanting from the store’s staff in the 30 minutes prior to greeting the madding crowd.
Upon entry, however, the hubbub was ratcheted up a notch as dedicated fans ran through the cheering staff in a competition to see who would be the store’s first customer. Using Apple’s new self-service in-store app, appropriately called Apple Store, an otherwise anonymous Canberran processed his payment for a pair of Beats by Dre earphones.
The store itself is everything you would expect from Apple: fastidiously clean, beautifully designed, spacious and welcome. The Genius Bar sits at the back of the long, narrow space, with the area in front fitted out with wooden tables carrying Macs, iPads, iPods, iPhones and accessories. There’s a Personal Trainer stand, One-to-One desk and an adorable, knee high Kids area that could occupy the children for hours.
The store is inside the Canberra Centre complex, a newly refurbished megamall in Garema Place, the main shopping drag on the northside of Lake Burley Griffin. Up one floor from ground level, in the former Esprit store, the Apple store is close to Myer and David Jones but well away from reseller Mac 1, JB Hi-Fi and Dick Smith Electronics.
Canberra is a perfect fit for Apple. A student town with more universities than it surely needs, Canberra provides hipsters, creative types and a revolving door of Gen Ys to its vertical business model. Importantly for a company that targets the mid-to-high end, Canberra is a city known for its high living standards.
Canberra’s time in the sun is fleeting, however, with Apple’s 17th store in Garden City opening just two hours later to claim the tag as Apple’s newest store in the world.