My wife and I were on hand for the opening of the Apple Store Smith Haven, partially because we’ve never gone to an opening before but mostly because it was only a few blocks from home. I brought my camera, but cleverly left its batteries in a recharger in my kitchen. I took some crappy mobile phone photos, but others have posted better.

We got there at about a half hour early, making us about 80th or so in line. The crowd was not at all what I expected: all ages, all races, all genders. Many more couples and seniors than I expected. One elderly guy in a Giants hat was breathing oxygen through a nose tube fed from a messenger bag slug across the back of a t-shirt declaring that “old guys rule”. There were some requisite geeks, like the guy in the “Nobody Reads My Blog” t-shirt, a pimply teen photographer with his skinny white ass sticking out of the dumb low cut pants that teens wear or the guy pitching the Long Island Macintosh User Group. There were also a few aging-hipster-artist-with-pony-tail types as well, but largely the crowd was surprisingly normal.

By the time the store actually opened, the line was at least twice as long as it was when we got there and still growing. The doors opened without much fanfare, in spite of one guy trying to drum up some spirit. Inside, the entire staff flanked the entrance in two columns, all cheering and clapping. They kept this up without stopping until the store reached capacity, which seemed like at least ten minutes. I can barely clap for five seconds without getting bored with it, so I was kind of impressed by this. We all got a box with a black XL t-shirt with a white Apple logo followed by “Smith Haven” on it. It didn’t occur to me until later, but the box was a nice touch, classier than a big pile of shirts being thrown around. I wonder what it costs to box them all.

The store itself is a fairly standard mall Apple store: glass front, walls with monitors, iMacs and Mac Pros, two rows of islands with laptops, ipods, etc. I was a bit surprised that the 24” iMac wasn’t in evidence. Also, one whole island was dedicated to external hard drive cases, which I found a bit curious. Maybe the mark-up is worth the extra attention?

After my wife drooled over the latest iPods, I noticed Shake for the first time, and a few third party software titles caught our eye, we were ready to leave. Of course, we had to do the requisite messing around with Photo Booth, and I tested a theory by using my Swiss Army knife to swipe the resulting image from the machine on the sly:

Given that people were still waiting in line outside when we left, it looks like this will be a good location for Apple. It also looks likely to help out the generally shabby Smith Haven Mall (which has been undergoing much needed renovations for months). I, for one, haven’t even been in the place in nearly fifteen months but will probably now go in every couple of weeks.