Just what Grand Central needs: more people. And it’s a sure thing that there will be many, many more people making their way through the main concourse when an Apple store opens up in a place that is already synonymous with large, bustling crowds.
A 23,000 square feet Apple store in Grand Central on the mezzanine level, which is currently occupied by a restaurant, would be the company’s fifth in New York City. Apple has opened more than 300 retail locations since it launched its first one in Virginia a decade ago.
Apple’s decision to open stores was distinctly against the tide by going all bricks and mortar as the world was beating a path to the virtual door of such e-tailers as Amazon.com. It was especially gutsy, too, as it came during the early stages of the dotcom bust and before Apple had become a mainstream high-tech company. This was months before the iPod was released, when Apple was still a niche player with a respectably large fan base but no clear way to capture the hearts and minds of the 97% or thereabouts general public which lived the Windows universe.
Even though dotcom companies were vaporizing as quickly as they had fueled the now bursting bubble there was no serious talk that the Internet was a passing fad, or that the growth of online commerce would reverse. Still, stores are expensive propositions, and Apple did not skimp on staff or interior design.
Zagging while the world zigged worked. Just as Apple had launched a desktop computer against the inexorable tide of portables with the iMac, and just as Steve Jobs had, as Pixar founder, revitalized the animated movie business, Apple’s stores multiplied and became retail hubs that are — well, as busy as Grand Central Terminal.