The Apple of my eye: Why the Downtown Apple Store matters

The Apple of my eye: Why the Downtown Apple Store matters
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Nobody at the office seemed to care that an Apple Store opened in Downtown Brooklyn last week. But I did.

Only because I’ve waited so long.

So when I got the invitation to attend a press preview last Thursday at 10 am sharp on Flatbush Avenue and Ashland Place, I didn’t send a reporter. I went.

I’m an Apple guy from way back. Well, not Apple II-back (for some reason, we had TRS-80s back in grammar school. And I never owned the original Macintosh). But definitely iMac back.

I got into Apple during the company’s least-influential time. Back in 1996, Apple was on its last leg. Steve Jobs wasn’t back yet, and the only reason anyone was using a Power Mac 8100 was to put out newspapers and magazines. Which is what we did.

And when I started working on QuarkXPress in OS 7.6, I was quickly hooked.

Back then, the Apple products crashed less frequently than the Toshiba laptop I owned that ran Windows 95. And even though they used these weird “SCSI” cables to connect to the printers and the scanners, it worked. Mostly flawlessly. Meanwhile, the dot-matrix printer I had connected to my homemade computer in the den (via a “parallel” cable) took at least a day to get zipping. And the mouse? That was on the weird “com” port, which looked like something you’d plug an Atari joystick into.

Within a few years, we upgraded our network at the office and added a badly needed Mac server — our beloved Power Mac 9650/350 — that kept humming along on OS 9.1 for 10 years without a hitch. When we needed more space to store PDFs of old editions, we just plugged in another external firewire hard drive, and it seemed we’d never need another system.

Of course the internet changed all that.

At first we were signing on to one house AOL account (“brooklynpa@aol.com”) and using Netscape Navigator. So only one computer could be online at a time. But we soon had a DSL line, those colorful early-aughts iMacs for the reporters, and everyone was on the information super highway.

When it was time to launch our own website, Windows machines were never a consideration, even though Macs owned only about three percent of the personal computer market. Jobs was back and iMacs were selling like hotcakes from companies like MacMall that made you jump through lots of hoops to get discounts — so there was never a pleasant shopping experience.

Quark gave way to InDesign and the Adobe Creative Suite (three, if you are counting), a new Mac Pro server replaced the old Workgroup Server, and our transition to OS X was relatively painless.

BrooklynPaper.com launched in 2007, and a funny thing happened when we started looking at the analytics. Nearly 25 percent of our users — people in Brooklyn, that is — were on Macs. And this was before the iPhone and just shortly after the iPod changed “Apple Computer” (which soon changed its name to just plain “Apple”) forever.

I thought I was the only one in Brooklyn back then who was a Mac addict. The readers of our website proved me wrong.

Of course, I took the information to the top when Apple started opening retail stores across the country. But my e-mail to steve@apple.com was not answered. And we kept having our machines tuned up (and got 10-cent bottles of Coke) at TekServe on 23rd Street in Manhattan instead of shopping at Apple’s fancy SoHo digs.

Even after TekServe closed, I never made it over to the Williamsburg Apple Store that opened about a year ago, still waiting on that illusive Downtown storefront.

My reporters, who have grown up with pods and pads and pros, weren’t all that excited about covering the opening. Nearly 40 percent of our page views online are being seen on some kind of Apple product. I don’t have to convince people anymore to buy a Mac. My parents, who voted for Trump, want an Apple TV for Christmas.

Now that’s it’s here, it’s a bit anti-climatic. Sure, it’s nice enough, with its triangular shape and “Genius Grove” beneath a bunch of ficus nitidas (evergreens that are part of the fig-tree family). And being that it was designed by Apple geniuses, it promises to be quiet despite the traffic on and beneath Flatbush Avenue outside.

As usual, they’ve thought of everything.

I just wish they thought of it sooner.

Vince DiMiceli is the editor-in-chief of The Brooklyn Paper and the host of Brooklyn Paper Radio.