Naperville gets first byte of Apple

Throngs of Mac geeks and curious downtown shoppers flooded the Jefferson Street sidewalk Aug. 15, waiting for the doors to be opened for their first look at Napervilles Apple Store.

Ive been here since 6:44 last night, said Ryan Benuska of Naperville, a high school student that camped out overnight to earn bragging rights as the first in a line of hundreds of shoppers. Benuska kept proof of his nocturnal stakeout by taking a photo of the clock on his iPhone the minute he unfolded his lawn chair at 120 W. Jefferson Ave.

Benuska was one the first of 1,000 people who came to the grand opening and received an Apple Store Main Place T-shirt, a souvenir that has become somewhat of a collectors item for die-hard Mac fans.

Upon entering the store, Benuska and all of the first customers were treated to loud cheers and high-fives from store employees and managers.

Ive never seen a grand opening like this before, said Naperville Mayor George Pradel, who expressed his excitement that Apple chose the city for one of its newest locations. Im just thrilled that it brings a new ripeness to the area.

Nearby small businesses did not seem to have a problem with their newest neighbor stealing the attention of shoppers, with some taking advantage of the opportunity to reach the large crowd.

We think for us as a bookseller it will be a huge plus for business, said Becky Anderson, co-owner of independent Andersons Bookstore across the street from the Apple Store. Anderson set up a table of audiobooks, back-to-school necessities and energy drinks outside the store in conjunction with the grand opening, hoping to attract the business of those with empty new iPods and iPhones to fill.

Andy Tesene of Two Bostons Pet Boutique and Bakery took the opportunity to find pet owners in line for the store, which extended down Jefferson Avenue and most of the way around Webster Street. Tesene gave away $5 gift cards to encourage residents who may have not known about his shop to stop in.

Were really excited about [the store], he said. I dont see how it couldnt help business.

Increasing foot traffic for the downtown area isnt the only thing Apple store manager Mike Camacho said the location will offer the community.

When we come to a new neighborhood, we provide a lot of learning, he said. Camacho added the store offers free classes and seminars on technology to the community, including to local schools.

The community is happy to have us and we are happy to be here, he said.

By Mick Swasko reporter

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