The first Apple Store in Austria opened today, and it happened to be the 501st Apple Store. I attended the opening and was lucky enough not to be too far back in the line - lots of people seem to have arrived before midnight, including one man from China who arrived at 2pm the day before! At it was cold I only got there at 7am.
This store matches Apple's new style with plants indoors, but they're using Genius tables and the grove is outside. All of the employees were there today and seemed to be really enjoying it - everyone I spoke to was enthusiastic and friendly, a few looked a little overwhelmed but that is to be expected!
When I got to the store the queue was just going past the end of the barrier. Due to the width of the street and the fact that it can be used for delivery vehicles Apple had prepared further waiting areas towards the other side of the street. The few of us tailing past the end of the ropes were asked to move to the middle and remain in order. Once that area filled up they moved on to the next and further on. Of course this meant there were lots of people milling around between the queues - but Apple had thought of that. When each queue was allowed to progress to the next one every person was given a card. You had to show this to enter the next queue, and then hand it over when exiting the queue or just before entering the store. This was a very simple but efficient system and prevented queue jumping.
Thankfully the security managing the queues were multi lingual and friendly enough to allow you to make a quick bathroom or coffee run - assuming the people standing next to you in the queue were happy to hold your spot that was, they did stop allowing that at 9am though (30 minutes before the store opened). While we were in the queue four employees came through to photograph everyone and get permission to use your photo in their marketing material. If you didn't want to be featured they did request permission to take a photo anyway so they could work on an exclusion basis rather than an inclusion basis. At around 8:30am staff brought out coffee for people in the queue which was very much appreciated.
Instead of giving out t-shirts we were given postcards and a commemorative pin. The postcards are on lovely thick, cream card stock, and the design is raised on the front with a slight gloss. I've scanned them in to show you - but the designs do belong to Apple. These images are animated and shown on the screen at the back of the store on the ground floor.
When I left the store at just after 11am they were still letting people in - with the cheering still at full volume and enthusiasm. I'm really looking forward to shopping in my local Apple Store.