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Apple store Pioneer Place reopens, looking the same from outside but with a retail rethink inside

PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - The Apple store Pioneer Place reopened after a two-month remodel. Lounging is acceptable.

Apple Pioneer Place reopened May 31 after an internal renovation. The entire structure had been covered in a black screen since March 23. The big reveal showed all the changes were on the inside.

PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - The Apple store Pioneer Place reopened after a two-month remodel. The architecture was largely unchanged, but the interior is now geared toward reducing crowding and providing education and entertainment.

Apple added a 28-foot wide video wall and seating to make the Forum, where free classes take place every day. The curriculum is called Today at Apple.

On Friday, May 31 they had how to create an emoji and how to do a jump cut like YouTuber Zach King. The seats are wooden cubes, which contain leather ottomans (some spheres, some cubes) for extra seating without clutter.

PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - Much of the Pioneer Place store remains the same, with phones on tables, connected by anti theft devices.

Designers at Apple's go-to architect Bohlin Cywinski Jackson found that the central Genius Bar was causing human traffic jams when it was busy. They reinvented it as the Genius Grove, placing one at each end of the store. Each grove consists of four potted ficus trees with padded seating around the planters, and long tables at which Apple staff help people with their product issues. The tables have electrical outlets that pop up with the swipe of a hand, and handle-less drawers which staff can open with their phone or tablet.

PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - New Avenues along the back wall allow limited hands-on experience with home control, gaming and audio equipment. Here a staffer shows how to set a bedroom to Party Time mode using an IOS device.

Tables

Apple created Avenues where shoppers can play with third-party products such as colored light bulbs and camera gimbles, as well as headphones and gaming accessories. Most of the store is still given over to long tables containing computers, tablets and phones, which have security tethers. Some Apple watches are under glass, others are available to be tried on, although staff say they cease to function if illegally removed from the store.

PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - Staff in green T-shirts were out in force for the opening. Much of the product is out in the open for testing. New Avenues along the back wall allow limited hands-on experience with home control, gaming and audio equipment.

A reservations-only board room has been created in the back of the store, just past the bathrooms, where businesses and high-dollar clients can receive hands-on demonstrations. Large drawers, which can only be opened by the right device, contain racks of phones and iPads in chargers, and a single 4K monitor sits at the head of the room.

PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - A manager at Apple Pioneer Place, shows off the drawers of loaner product in the new Boardroom, where business clients and big spenders can get hands-on demonstrations.

The walls are decorated with photos and plans of Apple's circular headquarters in Cupertino, California. On a sideboard there is a piece of metal handrail as used at that building, which in cross section forms the negative letter J-for-Jobs, as in founder Steve.

PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - The Apple store Pioneer Place reopened after a two-month remodel. The architecture was largely unchanged, but the interior is now geared toward reducing crowding and providing education and entertainment.

Lines

Standing near the front of the line that snaked around the building before the 10 a.m. opening was opera singer John Moore. Moore has sung the part of Steve Jobs in the opera The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs and he is in town to sing Figaro in Portland Opera's The Barber of Seville.

PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - Opera singer John Moore, who is in town to sing Figaro in Portland Operas The Barber of Seville, has all-Apple gear. He has sung the part of Steve Jobs in the opera The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs and he is half-jokingly referred to Apple as his religion.

"I like to tell people that the Judeo-Christian model of worship didn't work for me. But I worship Apple. I bit the Apple 10 years ago now and I'm better for it. I know more. I've certainly been kicked out of Paradise, but that's okay."

Moore says he believes in Apple's mission to make education and business easier.

"I've got the watch. I've got the phone. I'm interested in the new MacBook Pro and the iPad Pro, newest version. I trust Tim Cook as a leader. I trust that team because its products make us better. And I really believe that as a company, they're more interested in the long game of human civilization, in a proactive and 'secure' way." He added, "I really believe this is what we should worship as a human community, and that's why I'm here."

PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - Nursing student Ashley Dempsey from the Navajo reservation in Arizona was in town for a conference and took a break to look for some headphones that were sold out at home. The ones she wanted were sold out in Portland too.

Tax free

A nursing student from the Navajo reservation in Arizona, Ashley Dempsey was taking a break from a conference in Portland to look for $259.99 Power Beats Pro wireless headphones that were on back order in her home town store. Dempsey had on turquoise earrings, but her black bling was more obvious: "I have most of the new Apple products: the new Apple watch right here, the new iPhone, and then I have the new iPad. So, I came in trying to get the newer headphones."

She wanted them for working out, but the store's two units sold out to people ahead of her.

PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - Charlotte Yandell, a graphic designer in marketing at an engineering firm, uses a Windows machine at work but is all Apple at home. She was looking at iWatch wrist bands but was tempted to spend more.

Quality time

Charlotte Yandell, a graphic designer in marketing at the engineering firm KPFF, actually uses a Windows machine at work but is all Apple at home. She was looking at iWatch wrist bands but was very much in her happy place. Asked if she thinks she would spend a lot of money here, she said "Yes. I already do. It's just so easy, everything's so beautiful and I believe in the product, I believe in the brand."

To Yandell the legions of green-shirted staff were a good thing. "They still seem to be really knowledgeable and seem to have enough stuff. I'm never waiting around too long."

She was impressed that her iPhone 6 lasted for four years.

PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - Apple Pioneer Place's new Boardroom, where business clients and big spenders can get hands-on demonstrations.

"My partner is really into it too, and got me more interested in the business side, about how Steve Jobs' legacy products are supporting health care and being aware of your health."

With her partner she shares shopping lists and travel information. And together they synchronize their health and fitness goals across their devices and encourage each other. Yandell uses the watch and phone for social media, to keep in touch with friends, "Little messages that are so quick and easy to send to each other. And it's kind of a new dimension to friendships."

PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - The Forum (with ottomans and a 28-foot wide video wall) hosts shows every hour, under the title Today at Apple.


Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
971-204-7874
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