While Apple Computers seems to have the market cornered on product and store launches, competitor Microsoft has proven to be no slouch. On Saturday, June 21, the Washington State-based multinational corporation opened its 98th retail store, in Roosevelt Field mall near the Bloomingdale’s wing.
The store’s grand opening created quite a commotion throughout the Long Island community, resulting in long lines around the store from the moment the mall opened.
Customers waited eagerly for the ribbon cutting ceremony, an event marking the official unveiling of the store. While consumers quietly murmured on the queue, exuberant store associates handed out free merchandise, including Microsoft T-shirts. Around 10:30 a.m., the ceremony began with several words from new store manager Fazal Din. He spoke briefly about the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft’s newest tablet, which had been released the day before. He also mentioned the Demi Lovato concert Microsoft would host in the mall parking lot later that evening. He then passed the microphone to Panos Panay, corporate vice president of Microsoft.
Panay opened his speech with praise for the amount of excitement surrounding the opening festivities. He launched into further discussion of the Surface Pro 3. “I’m proud of it,” he stated. “My team is proud of it. It’s the best you can get your hands on.” He proceeded to give away two Surface Pro 3 tablets to individuals in the crowd who displayed the most enthusiasm. William Credle, one winner of a Surface Pro 3, was ecstatic about the gift and stated quite plainly “Microsoft rocks!”
Subsequent to promoting Microsoft’s latest technology, Panay announced that Microsoft would be donating roughly $1.1 million to charitable causes on Long Island. Organizations receiving grants included the Girl Scouts of America, Variety Child Learning Center, United Way of Long Island, and Autism Speaks. Donna Ceravolo, Janice Friedman and Andrea Rieger, Theresa Regnante, and Lisa Goring stood as representatives for each of these programs, respectively. Members of the associations overlooked the ceremony from the second story while their leaders received checks and said a word or two. Kate Murray, supervisor of the Town of Hempstead, followed the grant recipients by welcoming Microsoft and its team to the largest township in the country.
Once the speeches were concluded, Fazal Din began the big count down. The crowd shouted their way from ten to one, and as Panos Panay cut the ribbon, the curtains enveloping the store dropped to the ground. Microsoft associates stood opposite the store’s glass walls, dancing and shouting as the first shoppers entered. Each person that filed in was given bracelets for the Demi Lovato concert that evening (while supplies lasted) and the opportunity to explore the new location. Crowds would continue to enter and exit the store until the mall’s closing, when Demi Lovato’s performance would begin.
The inside of the store is certainly an impressive sight, with several large sections packed with a variety of interesting and high tech gadgets. Tables are spread from wall to wall, displaying computers, mobile phones, and tablets. Customers can also utilize the “One Experience” table, a small section which allows customers to interact with certain products, ranging from tablets to desktop computers. Against the wall, accessories for these devices can be found, such as cases, keyboards, and other attachments. These extras are available in an array of colors. According to Fazal Din, “We’re all about personalization at Microsoft.”
Apart from the main room, there are also side areas dedicated to other purposes. At one end of the store, there is a Full Height Video Wall, an immense screen on which visitors can try out X-Box One games prior to purchasing them. This screen can be connected to any device in the store, allowing customers to test other items out as well. “We want customers to experience everything the way they want to use it,” Din commented.
There is also another room, coined the “Theater,” which contains a large screen and tables capable of seating up to 50 people. While touring the store, I was informed that workshops would be conducted here, where customers are able to partake in free classes to learn more about Microsoft programs. Additionally, Microsoft’s Youth Speaks summer camp program will take advantage of this area to learn skills in game design, photography, and movie making.
Preceding the store’s opening, Microsoft General Manager of Communications Strategy Jonathan Adashek spoke regarding preparations for the big opening which he described as “an extensive process” and “months in the making.” According to Adashek, the process consisted of an intensive, six-week training program for store associates.
During this time, Microsoft also made attempts to engage the Long Island community, even generously volunteering in Freeport to rebuild homes lost in Hurricane Sandy. “The idea is to put a public face on our company,” Adashek stated. “We’re really excited to become a fabric in the community.” From the looks of it, the community is happy to have them. Microsoft’s newest addition appears to be a massive success already, and the new store is definitely worth a trip to Roosevelt Field.