Hawaii’s third Apple Store opened this morning in Waikiki, overlooking Kalakaua Avenue from the Royal Hawaiian Center. I was, in fact, second on the scene at 3 a.m., showing up an hour after web cartoonist Sophie Lynette. (I wasn’t planning on being there so early, but was already up after watching “LOST” film past midnight in Kaneohe). The contractors that build the store were still putting the finishing touches on the store’s immense facade, featuring Apple’s typical glass and metal accents on a massive wall of cut lava rock.
We talked to Chuck, one of the metal specialists, who said they had been working for the last 24 hours straight. His company actually does nothing but build Apple Stores around the country, and he said he only had a day in Hawaii before heading off to either Southern California or Georgia for the next build.
Soon all the pieces were in place, and the sidewalk was cleared, and the line formed in earnest. Third in line was Mark, a Punahou grad and civil engineer. It would be 5 a.m. before the fourth person arrived. And even at 7 a.m., there were at best twenty people on hand. It was a sparse turnout overall, perhaps because of Waikiki’s limited parking, perhaps because of “Apple Store opening fatigue,” or perhaps because of the sagging economy. At its longest, I’d say there were at most 400 people in line.
With 1,000 collectors T-shirts (emblazoned with the Apple logo and “Royal Hawaiian”), nobody went home empty handed. Mark managed to go through the line four times for four shirts, and basically stopped because he was running out of room in his backpack. Sophie and I followed him on one of his circuits to get a second shirt ourselves. Hey, we were there at 3 a.m.!
The store is definitely the largest in Honolulu, though not as large as I’d expected. Bigger than the Kahala location by maybe 30 or 40 percent, but only one floor (despite the height of the external facade). And with the Ala Moana store within walking distance, ifoAppleStore says Honolulu is now in second place when it comes to “most stores per square mile.”
It was fun to celebrate the store’s opening and see many familiar faces… both on staff, and in the crowd. Enjoy the video, and check out my photos of the grand opening festivities on Flickr.