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Apple opened its second retail store in Australia at 9:00am on Saturday, 9 August — not a multi-storey, glass-fronted showcase in the central business district of Melbourne or Brisbane, but at Chatswood Chase, an upscale suburban shopping centre on the North Shore of Sydney.

This somewhat more subdued opening followed the huge fanfare of the launch of Apple's first store in the southern hemisphere on George Street in Sydney's central business district on 18 June.

The single-storey shop front had previously housed a women's fashion boutique, but Apple transformed the location to hold all the stations found in its other retail outlets, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Bright lights and an open frontage beckon shoppers inside. Is this the template for more smaller Apple retail outlets to come? Apple spokespeople gave their standard "No comment" response to the query.

Macs and Apple desktops line the left-hand side of the store; iPods and iPhones are displayed on the right. All are connected to the internet and shoppers are encouraged to come in and browse the Web.

The Genius Bar at the back of the shop is much smaller than the one in the Sydney city store, with just four workstations. Customers can go online before coming to Chatswood Chase to book a free 15-minute Personal Shopping session with one of the Apple geniuses. All appointments were booked out for opening day.

The Chatswood Chase store, like its counterparts in other locations, offers a variety of one-to-one personal training workshops. Those very keen can sign up for a one hour session each week for an entire year for AU$129. (That works out to AU$2.50 per week).

On Friday night, less than 12 hours prior to opening, the streets outside Chatswood Chase were empty. No overnight campers here — it seems even the Apple fan boys were off watching the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

By 8:00am, one hour prior to opening on Saturday morning, a small queue had formed to get in the new store. News of the opening was not widespread — confirmation of the opening date came too late to make the local newspapers.

By 8:50am, the queue had stretched around the centre's central plaza in front of the mall's anchor tenant, the David Jones department store. More than a few of those waiting already had their 3G iPhone and were simply going in to soak up the Apple atmosphere and score one of the free T-shirts on offer to the first 1,000 shoppers to enter.

Five minutes prior to the doors opening to the public, Apple store employees ran a lap through the mall, high-fiving those waiting to get in.

At 8:59am, the clapping and chanting began: "CHATS-WOOD!" Clap, clap, clap. "CHATS-WOOD!" Clap, clap, clap. Those just stopping in for their morning coffee and a few groceries weren't too sure what to make of that much enthusiasm so early in the day.

At last it opened to the public. Australians are used to these kinds of cheering gauntlets on a winter Saturday morning, however, they are normally seen at the footy field with team players running on to a sporting ground wearing footy boots, striped socks and a mouth guard.

Within minutes of opening, the store was packed.

The iPhone table was the most popular spot. The store manager claimed they had plenty of stock on hand for whoever wanted to purchase one.

There isn't a cash register per se in the store. Employees wear belt holsters that hold this portable Easy Pay terminal which allows them to process credit card transactions on the spot.


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