Apple’s grandest and one of its largest stores in the world is set to open 10 a.m. Friday, and if its size doesn't floor you, the plethora of drool-worthy gadgets will.
The 23,000-square foot megastore at Grand Central Terminal expands across the entire east balcony in the main terminal and is flanked on either side by what seems like an endless maze of rooms, and its elegance and fitting aesthetic cannot be overstated.
Replete with dozens of Apple gadgets to toy with, the expansive store sits atop a stairway that draws customers into a familiar setting of long wooden tables showing off the company's best, all headlined by the signature floating, glowing white apple.
The store, Gotham’s fifth, offers two training rooms, two genius bars, a room full of product accessories and a gigantic open space for MacBooks and handheld devices.
Customers in a hurry will be able to scan and buy accessories using an iDevice without having to interact with any of the store’s 315 employees, according to Bob Bridger, Apple’s vice president of real estate and development, who gave a tour of the company’s new digs on Wednesday. Fifteen-minute workshops will also be conducted during busy commuter hours for waiting consumers who want to brush up on their tech skills.
While many preservationists worried the historic train terminal would turn into a flashy, branded eyesore reminiscent of the landmark’s past, Apple did minimal construction work on the space, helping to strike a balance that let visitors know they were still in a train station, while offering some of the company’s signature traits.
Apple is paying the cash-strapped MTA $1.1 million in rent for the first year, which increases over its 10-year lease, but it is not sharing any of its profits, as some other stores in the terminal do. The company also paid the former tenant, restaurant Metrazur, $5 million to take over the space, and made some renovations to it.
To control the inevitable crowds expected for the store’s 10 a.m. opening Friday, customers will begin lining up in the terminal’s Northeast corridor beginning at 5 a.m.
(This story has been updated since its original publication.)