Despite the threat of rain, thousands waited patiently this morning for the grand opening of Apple's latest, and possibly greatest, new Apple Store in London's tourist hotspot Covent Garden.
Many, if not all of the 300 Apple staff were on hand to greet customers and the curious, keen to see what all the fuss was about, as the doors opened at 10am. Rose Williams, first in line, looked fresh faced and glowing despite hours and hours queuing.
The store is a prime example of creating something new from the old, slowly peeling back the years of dirt and neglect to reveal the foundations of what is a simply beautiful building. A large skylight and natural light bathed covered courtyard makes for an impressive centre piece. Full credit to Apple for setting high retail standards in an area that can sometimes look a little cheap and dowdy.
Over three floors, plus all important toilets in the basement, the Apple Store, Covent Garden, feels less like a major retail outlet, more like a gallery space or museum to shiny Apple products, with gadgets desplayed in groups on wooden tables. Rooms are themed to cover iPhones, iPods, iPads and Macs while the top floor has a good selection of third party accessories, space which many smaller stores sadly lack.
As Apple was keen to show Macworld, a good sized Start Up Room is available for setting up your new Apple device on purchase with help from specially trained staff. The store's new Community Room also impressed. The area promises in-depth training on Apple’s industry-leading pro applications, including Final Cut Pro, Logic and Aperure, as well as other free workshops and youth programmes to spark your creativity.
Along with free Apple t-shirts, 4,000 of them, complimentary water bottles and sturdy umbrellas, visitors were given an Apple Store Calendar of Events for August highlighting a number of useful workshops, events, Pro Labs and youth programmes throughout the month. A smaller Briefing Room will run free business workshops and hopefully convince corporate clients to make the switch to Mac, iPhone and iPad.
The Apple Store, Covent Garden is at No. 1-7 The Piazza London, WC2E 8HA. Opening hours are Monday - Friday 9am - 9pm and Sunday noon - 6pm.
More details, including driving directions in central London and a map, can be found at www.apple.com/uk/retail/coventgarden.
More photos from today's Apple Store, Covent Garden opening.