If you haven’t heard the local commercial clamor over the past few weeks, let me be the last to inform you: a new Apple retailer has just set up shop in the Queen City.
Small Dog Electronics is based in Vermont and hopped over the border to open a third location, inside the Mall of New Hampshire, on Oct. 9. The event was heralded with newspaper ads and radio spots galore, with promises of free gifts and iPod Nano giveaways. Mac nerds of the Granite State plotzed.
The CEO and Top Dog — actual title — is Don Mayer. With tattoos all over his left arm and greeting everyone in line, he was pretty easy to spot at the grand opening. As one might expect, he seemed to be in a pretty good mood.
“You know, the hippo’s my favorite animal,” he told me when I introduced myself as a writer for this paper. He just got back from Africa, it turns out, and was hanging out with 250 hippos at one point. (The exact number could not be verified.)
While Salem and Nashua host company-owned Apple Stores, Mayer figured he’d set up shop in the largest city north of Boston. Although it’s an independent retailer, Small Dog fits in the “Specialist” class of authorized resellers.
Judging from the line outside the store at the event, local Mac fans don’t mind the distinction. When I arrived just a few minutes before 10 a.m., the line extended from the shop’s entrance in the rotunda all the way past the food court.
The crowd could’ve been a hassle, but a dedicated security person on a Segway was ready for any trouble. The techie demographic could do plenty of window shopping while waiting; iPhones and their accessories were prominently on display at an AT&T store, Best Buy Mobile and a pair of Digital Outfitters kiosks, not to mention the whole Mac section of the Best Buy anchor store at the end of the hall. Ritz Camera and Custom Wireless got to show off their competing Verizon and T-Mobile phone services. One enterprising businessman even took the opportunity to hand out business cards for UsedAppleStore.com, based in Auburn.
I didn’t spy any sleeping bags or tents, as have become legendary at Apple stores when big new products are released. Then again, this was inside. It would’ve been overkill anyway — I was shuffled into the crowded store about 45 minutes after the opening, and the whole line had been serviced 15 minutes later. Every attendee was gleefully handed a T-shirt, pen, screen wipes and small dog toys of every breed.
What is it about the Apple brand that inspires such excitement? We weren’t all unquestioning Mac faithful; as I took notes on a Blackberry, the guy behind me in line browsed the Web on a Droid. Maybe the crowd just wanted a shot at a free iPod. Maybe they were intrigued by the concept of a business actually expanding in this economic climate.
Small Dog has free daily events planned through Sunday, Oct. 17.
See their website at www.smalldog.com for details.