Hundreds of eager and curious Mac fans flocked to the grand opening of Apple's first retail store on Saturday. Some anxious consumers waited hours to be the first in line.

The store, at Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia, a Washington suburb, is the first of 25 that will open across the country this year, selling a full line of Apple products and over 300 third-party software titles. A store in Glendale, California, also made its debut Saturday morning.

Laura Wynne, Apple's regional director, said: "The retail division in general is the most exciting place to be right now." The "stylish" and "functional" store is split into different sections, catering to all types of Mac users - from the curious passer by to the savvy graphic artist.

Expert advice The Genius Bar in the back is staffed with Apple experts, who serve bottled spring water and help customers with technical questions. If the question is too tough, staff members can pick up the Apple hotline, a direct link to Apple headquarters.

Sean Copley, a graphic designer, who has been using Apple computers since 1994, said: "People here actually know what they're talking about. The Genius Bar is probably the coolest part of the store."

All employees are trained for a month at Apple's home base in Cupertino, California, and must have great interpersonal skills, said Kathie Calcidise, Apple's vice president of retail stores.

"I love the store," said Apple store employee Ali Mohan, 28, who was helping customers with software. He added; "I love the Mac. I've been using them for at least 6 years."

Public interest Mohan said customers were really interested in the iBooks and if some third-party software will work with Mac OS X, the company's latest operating system release.

The store houses a brightly coloured children's section, where the youngest Mac enthusiasts can play games, such as Toy Story 2 and Bugdom.

Patrick Donohue, a 24-year-old G4-owner, said: "Apple seems to take retail out of the equation, it's an interactive experience where customers can actually see their products in action. They have taken a real hands-on approach to selling computers."

Most customers agreed that true to Apple's creative and innovative nature, the store has a lot of style. The brightly-lit "boutique" has a clean and almost futuristic design. The front store windows are made to look like the desktop of Mac OS X.

However, long-time Apple user, Barbara McCall, said she was disappointed there was no Internet café: "We need to get more passionate and spread the word. We need to get out that we love it."