It is 9am on Saturday, June 21. Dozens of youngsters in blue shirts are dancing like crazy inside No. 1, Puerta del Sol. No, they are not the stragglers from an after-hours party; these are the employees of the brand new Apple store that is about to open in the Spanish capital.
Outside the landmark building, which once housed the Hotel Paris and for 80 years featured the famous Tío Pepe sherry billboard on its roof, hundreds of Apple fans are watching them through the large display windows, iPhones in the air, to record this historic event.
These are the true survivors of the night: the first people in line have been standing there for 12 hours, just to be the first to cross the threshold of Apple’s new flagship store in Spain.
“I’ve been here since 9pm last night,” says Daniel Soto, 33, who owns a cleaning and chemical product business.
The first customer in line, Edu, was looking a little tense from all the media attention
“I wanted to see the first flagship store, the first significant Apple store in Madrid,” he adds, sporting a shirt and cap that feature his beloved brand. “This is my fourth Spanish opening and the 106th store I have visited globally.”
Soto got hooked on Apple years ago, when he traveled to the US and got his first iPod. “Since then, my personal goal has been to collect stores.”
Standing near him is Xavi Tudela, a 16-year-old with an angelic-looking face who is recording everything on his iPhone. “I came down from Barcelona for the event and I’ve been here nearly 12 hours,” he explains. “The way I see it, these stores have a completely different esthetic than the rest: very pretty, with lots of wood, very elegant, and above all very different.”
As opening hour, 9.30am, draws nearer, the noise gets louder. First in line is Edu, who is looking a little tense from all the media attention.
“Don’t faint now!” cry out the Apple fans behind him, as the employees perform a Mexican wave for him from within the building.
But 9.30 finally arrives. Edu walks into a hallway filled with smiling employees who shake his hand and hug him. Slowly, the store fills up.
This is the fourth Apple store to open in the Madrid region, the 11th in Spain and the 101st in Europe. The spacious premises, with high ceilings and cast-iron columns, make the store seem a little empty.
“Yes, but don’t you feel comfortable in here? Or would you rather it was full of things?” notes an employee. “Besides, you can touch whatever you like.”
Another salient feature of the Apple store is the friendliness of its more than 125 employees. Workshops will be held here to learn how to handle the products, as well as musical acts and other events.
Upstairs, the music and general din make it hard to talk to anyone. But Jesús Sánchez and Daniel Pérez, both around 20, confess they have been waiting for this moment for the last two years.
“We’re not big fans of Apple now,” they add. “We used to be, we had iPods, which used to be really awesome, but now we have Android cellphones. But since we always wanted to come to an opening, we decided to be here today.”