Thursday, July 24, 2003

Apple Camp Blog.

Whenever I wander down North Michigan Avenue, I tend to think of it as the "North Michigan Avenue retail market," where rents are high and vacancies are still fairly low. (Vacant space is one measure of the health of any commercial market; low is good for landlords, naturally.) That's just one of those habits of mind that comes from writing about commercial real estate so much. That and the knowledge that merchandise there runs high, simply because it's sold on Michigan Avenue, one the great shopping streets of the nation, where rents are...

Anyway, the avenue has the kind of stores I don't usually frequent, such as expensive clothiers, a couple of jewelry stores, upscale knickknackeries, and some of the usual monster chains: a Border's further north, a Virgin Megastore toward the south.

I do go into Border's from time to time, just to look, but there's one closer to my office than the Michigan Ave. site. As for Virgin, I might go in occasionally if I ever were in the market for recorded music, but I seldom am. Besides, I'm old enough to remember when London was the place to visit a Virgin record store. That wasn't so long ago -- 1988, when I spent a fine while rummaging through a Virgin store there. It was worth doing because I couldn't do it back home. As a result, something about seeing a Virgin Megastore on Michigan Ave. doesn't quite sit right. I feel the same way about the now-ubiquitous Barnes & Noble. That's a New York bookstore, dammit.

Chicago used to have a fine local bookstore chain -- Krock's & Brentano's. A fine record chain as well -- Rose Records. Both vanished in the 1990s.

Tilting against retail windmills, I am. Today I went to the Apple Store on North Michigan Ave. It's been open only a few months, replacing I don't remember what. My associate editor Bonnie and I actually had a work-related reason to go, too, besides our professional interest in retailers. We are going to buy a digital camera for the office, and wanted a hands-on examination.

It was my first Apple Store visit, but of course I'd heard about them. Spare and white as a NASA clean room, glass and steel predominating, products arrayed for inspection (adoration?). I'd read that the staircase leading to the second floor is not plastic, as it appears to be, but specially toughened glass. The stairs and a bridge from one side of the second floor to the other are made of this glass. Knowing that my full weight was being supported by mere glass gave me pause. But it held. It's tough, all right.

A solicitous young man, wearing an orange "Camp Apple" t-shirt and clearing doing this as a summer job, had apparently been assigned to the digital camera table, and he listened to us describe what we wanted: something to made 300+ dpi images for publication in a real paper magazine. We even confessed that we were still using an OS9x system (a clerk in the Mac room of Microcenter once reacted to that information as if I had said I preferred quill pens to those new-fangled ball-points).

The fellow at the Apple store had probably been indoctrinated in maintaining a poker face in such situations, and so cheerfully talked about the pictures he'd taken with his camera, a Canon on the table about the size of a cigarette pack. You can put it right in your pocket, he said. I gravitated toward a somewhat larger Nikon, with similar capabilities, simply because it seemed more like a real camera. Cameras shouldn't be too small, unless they're meant to spy with.

We didn't buy anything there. That wasn't part of the plan. But soon we will order a camera on-line and have it delivered here. That, I expect, is exactly what Apple wants us to do.


Post a Comment

<< Home