Apple opens Grand Central store

Everyone drinking the Apple-flavored Kool-Aid outside the new Apple store in Grand Central Station on Dec. 9, 2011 in New York City.

The pulse is up today on news that the cult of Apple is alive and well in the Big Apple.

The company opened its latest store this morning: A 23,000-square-footer in the heart of Manhattan’s bustling Grand Central Terminal. Thousands crowded through doors to get a glimpse inside at the soaring ceilings and authentic details. Many had waited on line overnight for the dorky honor of being one of the first inside; others just wanted the free T-shirt promised to the first 4,000 visitors.

While it will sell all the same products as the nearly half-dozen other Apple Stores in Manhattan, the Grand Central Terminal location will offer some services custom-tailored to the commuters who the company hopes will frequent the store. Those include scanning and paying for something with your iPhone (eliminating the need to interact with an employee), as well as express 15-minute consultations on Apple products and services with one of the stores’ “Geniuses.”

Though Apple’s marketing efforts sometimes feels like shtick, their retail business is anything but a gimmick. The Grand Central Terminal store will employ 315, upping the company’s retail force to over 36,000 staffing more than 300 stores. And in this tough time for brick-and-mortar businesses, according to the Wall Street Journal, Apple’s retail sales in 2010 rose 70 percent from the previous year to $11.7 billion.

At more than $1 million per year, the rent ain’t cheap -- especially when you factor in the $5 million they had to pay the former occupant of the space, and the $2.5 million they spent on construction. But it’s doubtful Apple is worried about the price tag. The company says more people shop at their stores each quarter than visit all of Disney’s theme parks last year.

Almost gives new meaning to the term “Genius Bar.”

About the author

Joel Patterson is the Associate Producer of Marketplace Money.

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