"Who needs sleep?"
Those were the words of Austin Lewis, who, along with his buddies with the blog TexasTechReview, arrived at Highland Village at 6 p.m. Thursday. The group wanted to be first in line for the grand opening of the new Apple store Friday morning and the launch of the newest iPad, so they camped outside of the building for more than 12 hours.
Just before 8 a.m., the lines outside were full of Apple fanatics with sleeping bags and tired eyes, surrounded by energetic, rallying blue-shirted Apple employees. One, Jessica Lizano, had shaved the company's iconic logo into her hair for the occasion. Lizano ran from one end of the line to the other, smiling and yelling about the "resolutionary" new iPad.
By 8:45 a.m., the line outside of the building had dissipated and workers were deconstructing the steel barricades.
After a resounding countdown, the guys from TexasTechReview — including Kris Green, anxious to purchase the new iPad — were the first to pass the threshold of the new store and receive high fives from the hundreds of Apple employees lining the center of the open building.
In spite of the black shroud that has covered the store's glass exterior during months of construction, we knew that the space would be striking, and a visit today confirmed that: Clear glass walls line the north and south sides of the store, and tinted glass panels provide a roof; neat boxes fill the shelves along smooth interior walls; sleek product displays perch on wooden tabletops; giant Apple logos hang suspended at either end of the store like glowing moons.
Despite the hectic rush of the combined store opening and product launch, the store felt tidy and the employees were attentive to the wide array of gawkers and customers — pregnant women, toddlers and pre-teens, elderly couples and obvious techies carrying pillows and lawn chairs — all crammed into 5,670 square feet of retail space.
"The excitement is just tremendous," Karen Grant, one of 160 employees recently hired for the Highland Village store, told CultureMap.
"This is my first store opening and my second product launch," said Carrie Lofton, a representative from the store at Memorial City Mall who came inside the Loop for the big day. "There is so much energy here."
By 8:45 a.m., the line outside of the building had dissipated and workers were deconstructing the steel barricades, but store employees continued to greet each new arrival entering the store, and each person leaving, with unflagging enthusiasm.
Piles of tickets for the new iPad were still bound together on a cart outside of the door, and dozens of white iPad boxes were still stacked on the floor behind the counter. Now that the crowd has died down, will you venture to the Highland Village store for a new iPad?