Saturday 7:30am, I had my bag packed: water, Jelly Babies, reading material and camera, all in an Apple carrier bag/rucksack. But, before heading to the Trafford Centre, I had to pick up my niece Zoe and my sister Lorraine. Zoe uses a second generation (initial revision) iMac with super-drive and my sister occasionally uses a Dyson vacuum cleaner.
There was hardly any traffic en-route, but you do have to drive through, seemingly endless, motorway road-works at 40 miles per hour. We arrived at about 8:15am and parked, under-cover, in a more or less completely empty car-park. But more of that later. Just for the record, it is not where I usually park when I visit the Trafford Centre.
We found the Apple Store and joined the queue. There must only have been about 30 to 35 people in front of us. Apple security were there as well as Trafford Centre staff in their red jacketed uniforms. Now, I was certain that the Apple web-site had stated an opening time of 10:00am. Lorraine, on the other hand, said that the Trafford Centre web-site said 9:00am. Guess who was right?
My sister thought that everyone was quite mad for getting up and queuing at this ungodly hour on a Saturday, just to go into a computer store. I did ask her, quite nicely I thought, if I could have her t-shirt so that I could wear one and keep the other in its box. “No way”, she said (or words to that effect), “I’ve told them at work that I’m going to wear mine!”. So much for that special bond between siblings.
We could hear the Apple Store staff cheering inside the store even with the shutters down. At 8:45am about 6 Apple employees came around the corner, no doubt from the Apple Stores backdoor, and started to get the crowd excited. Mexican waves and “Everybody shout ‘Apple Manchester’” being the most popular.
8:59am and the shutters went up and an Apple staff conga snaked its way around the shopping centre. Maybe not the whole centre but at least around the waiting people. The first 100, or so, of us filed our way into the store. Rock music was playing loud, Apple staff were cheering, handing out the free t-shirts and high-fiving everyone within range.
The store itself is pretty much a standard Apple Store only it is deeper than the one in the Bullring. The tills are at the far end, the Genius Bar on the right about half way down the store and lots of wooden display tables.
I immediately had a look at a Power Mac with a 30" Cinema display set up with a Final Cut Pro keyboard. Zoe seemed suitably impressed. Then we had a wander down towards the iPods and the nano in particular. It was the first time that I had seen one and they really are about the same thickness as an After Eight mint. The main, hard-disk, iPods don’t seem to be all that much thicker in comparison and the colour displays on both are just gorgeous. Of course I had to be shown how to use one by Zoe because I knew that they both have a click-wheel but not that the centre of the wheel clicks as well. Lorraine, by this time, had filled in about 5 of the prize draw cards. All in her own name.
At this time the store was just about comfortably crowded as we made our way down to the peripherals: AirPort Express, Mighty Mice, iSight cameras, various printers and scanners. Then, past the Genius Bar, towards the new iMacs with the built-in iSight cameras and the remote control for Front Row, iBooks, Power Books and Mac Minis. Everything looked great.
I tried a Mighty Mouse, actually, without even realising that it was one. The left and right clicks work fine but the little scroll ball does seem a little too small and loose, or maybe I’m just used to a scroll wheel mouse. I tried squeezing the side buttons but couldn’t get them to activate. Of course Zoe tried it and within a few seconds had zoomed in the Dashboard by pressing the scroll ball.
Back down the store again to a nifty little Sanyo Xacti C5 still camera and camcorder that Zoe had been looking at earlier. Lorraine also took a fancy to it and at £449 said that it was a steal. Alas, she had left her credit card at home in her husband, Peter’s, wallet.
Having completed a few circuits of the store we decided to head out past the queue of people still waiting to get in. We had a wander around the rest of the centre and then made our way back to the Apple Store for a few final photos.
Lorraine, bless her heart, was still quite fired up about the whole Apple experience. I’m sure that if I hadn’t suggested that we head for the car she would have been skipping along the queue inciting the patiently waiting people to shout “Macs Rock, PeeCees Suck!!”.
In our excitement at getting to the Trafford Centre for the Apple Store Grand Opening, we didn’t take a careful note of where the car was parked. Not helped by the fact that we left the centre out of the wrong exit and then when we did go back inside and leave from the right exit we chose to go down the wrong escalator. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. The half hour spent wandering up and down rows of parked cars was good exercise anyway.
Even writing this now I’m still “pumped-up” thinking about all the cool computers, music players, software and the whole Apple experience in general… or maybe that’s just because I’ve eaten half a bag of Jelly Babies.