Apple Opens Stunning Store in Grand Central Terminal [PICS]

Apple Store Grand Central

New York City just got a stunning new tourist attraction. Apple’s largest-ever retail venue opened on Friday at the historic Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, as swarms of fans camped out for hours to be among the first to enter.

Hundreds of fans – some of which joined the line at the crack of dawn – were finally greeted by a sea of Apple employees clad in red holiday shirts that waved and ushered them in when the doors opened to the public at 10:00 a.m. EST. Some staffers offered customers high fives and hugs.

“We’ve been here since 5:00 a.m.,” one customer told Mashable. “Seeing a new Apple store is much better than sleeping, and this one is just amazing.”

The first series of visitors to enter the store received black shirts that read “Apple Store Grand Central” in a style that resembles a train schedule ticker.

What sets this store apart from others – in addition to its record size of 23,000 square feet – is its location. Sure, it features Apple’s standard service stations — two Genius Bars, a personal pickup location to retrieve reserved items, a training room and a start-up room to learn how to use products – but Grand Central is clearly the star here.

The store overlooks and wraps around the main concourse of New York’s classic commuter station from the East and North East balconies of the main concourse, which serves as a beautiful backdrop to the Apple experience. It’s hard to not soak in the view, or to marvel at the spectacular antique chandeliers dangling near one of the Genius Bars. Some 750,000 people will pass by the store in an average day.

Apple first announced the opening of its Grand Central store on a series of ticker screens featured on its storefront last week. Many previously expected the company would open its new store before Black Friday, but construction workers at the location told Mashable that it wouldn’t be ready in time.

The store is the first U.S. opening since the departure of Ron Johnson, the former SVP for retail at Apple who helped create its iconic store design with Steve Jobs. Johnson is now the CEO of J.C. Penney.

The Grand Central Apple Store has been said to cost the company more than $1 million in rent each year. But Apple may still be getting a break; recent reports have indicated that Apple is paying $60 for each square foot, compared to other nearby retailers paying $200 for the same amount of space.

A New York Post report also noted Apple will not be sharing revenue with the terminal’s operator Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) since the store will likely bring a high amount of additional consumer traffic to Grand Central. In response, the state is launching an investigation.

The Apple Store Grand Central is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Grand Central location – which will employ 315 employees – is the company’s fifth Apple Store in New York City.

What do you think of the new store? Will it bring too much traffic to an already crowded space?