Fri 19 May
As an Apple fan, I think the company’s retail stores are awesome in theory, but I’m not the kind of guy to spend hours hanging out within them, nor the sort to make dutiful treks to their openings, like many Apple fans do. Still, I thought it was worth stopping by this evening’s grand opening for Apple’s new flagship store on Fifth Avenue, here in New York. It’s not exactly on my way home from work, but the fact that the company had decided to put such a huge, public stake in the ground in such a high-end retail district, and with such a prominent architectural statement… well, my curiosity was piqued.
One thing Apple’s public relations people aren’t likely to tell you about this new store is that it smells like shit. I mean, literally it smells like shit. Directly across the street from the store is the de facto base station for Central Park’s tourist-friendly hansom cabs: anachronistically charming horse-drawn carriages that tour passengers around the park and, as an added bonus, fill the air of that tony part of town with the distinctive odor of feces. It’s adorable.
None of which detracts from the beauty of Apple’s monument-like, all glass entrance to its new retail jewel. It’s a gorgeous piece of architecture that’s completely at home amongst all the other high-end retail shops along Fifth Avenue, and yet not like any of them at all. It’s otherworldly in some respects, completely transparent and yet not immediately apparent in its purpose, giving it a ghostly kind of classiness.
Its neighbors in that posh neighborhood, the Guccis and Luis Vuittons of the world, inspire awe through ostentatiousness, but the new Apple store inspires awe through its single-mindedness and a certain purity of vision. I never got to go inside — the line was long and dense — and I wish I’d been able to stay until dusk at least, when that huge Apple logo hanging within the glass cube is supposed to light up. But, heck, it’s open twenty-four hours a day and three hundred sixty-five days a year. I suppose I can go anytime.