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Apple Opens Flagship Store In Manhattan

The jewel in Apple’s retail crown opened last month in midtown Manhattan.

The company’s 147th store is located on Fifth Avenue beneath the retail plaza of the General Motors Building, a prime piece of real estate that’s just up the block from Tiffany’s, houses FAO Schwarz, and faces The Plaza Hotel and Central Park.

Apple eschewed a storefront for the underground outpost, and instead marks its presence with a 32-foot glass cube, reportedly envisioned by CEO Steve Jobs, which houses an iconic Apple logo and an elevator and spiral staircase that lead to the retail floor below.

The 25,000-square-foot space features more than 100 Macs and nearly 200 iPods for customers to try before they buy, and purports to offer “the world’s largest assortment” of Mac and iPod accessories, including speaker docks, headphones, radio attachments, notebook bags, software, how-to books, printers, hard drives and mice.

Apple says the store will be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to offer “an unprecedented level of service,” and will be staffed by 300 trained Mac Specialists, Mac Geniuses and “Creatives,” who offer free tips and tricks on photography, movies and music. The new store also features a combined 45-foot Genius Bar, iPod Bar and The Studio where customers can get face-to-face support, free advice and can work on personal projects at any hour of the day or night.

“We opened our first New York store in SoHo in 2002, and it has been successful beyond our dreams,” said Jobs. “Now we’re thrilled to open our second New York store. With outstanding service and an amazing location open 24 hours a day, we think the Apple Store Fifth Avenue is going to be a favorite destination for New Yorkers and people around the world.”

Some 3,000 customers and a bevy of celebrities attended the store’s grand opening, which was celebrated with giveaways of T-shirts and MacBooks.

Apple’s stores have become a retail phenomenon — and a thorn in resellers’ sides — since the first location opened in May 2001. Thanks to their premium locations, free tech support and the unprecedented popularity of iPods, the stores constitute one of the fastest growing retail chains in the world, generating over $1 billion in global sales during the 2005 holiday selling season alone, and representing 17 percent of Apple’s total annual revenue.

Indeed, the chain ranked 12th on TWICE’s latest Top 100 CE Retailers report, up from 17th place last year, based on qualified domestic CE sales of $2.2 billion in 2005, representing a 45.6 percent year-over-year gain.