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

Brooklyn Paper
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Photo gallery

Grovey: That’s not a “Genius Bar,” it’s a “Genius Grove,” and with good reason. This Apple Store is located on a former nursery.
Thin to win: New iMacs on display look great against a Brooklyn backdrop.
Locally sourced?: These ficas nitidas are relatives of fig trees, according to our photographer Stefano.
Uniquely Brooklyn: An iPhone looks great here.
Designed by Apple in Brooklyn: The new store is kind of a triangle.
Doorway to heaven: Brooklyn’s Apple geeks will love this new store.
Standing tall: But you still can’t help but notice the beautiful building above it.

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 (“”) 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. 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 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.
Updated 5:52 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

HONEY Pooter from Williamsburg says:
This is so important - before there was like literally nowhere to get an iPhone. Now everyone's gonna have them! Even poor people. It's not every day a massive chain store opens up near Atlantic Avenue. This is BIG!
Dec. 6, 2017, 9:06 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
what's the big deal. You can buy the exact same products at the exact same price two buildings away at the Best Buy at the Atlantic Center. Am I missing something?
Dec. 6, 2017, 9:44 am
Mike from Slope says:
That is not Downtown Brooklyn. It's multiple stops from Borough Hall on most trains. Jeez, stop falling for marketing.
Dec. 6, 2017, 10:07 am
S from Clinton Hill says:
Most neighborhoods in NY are "multiple subway stops" in length, so that's not a very definitive argument.

You could argue that this store is in Fort Greene, not Downtown, but if so, it must be right on the border between the two neighborhoods, unless you think Fort Greene extends across Flatbush Ave.
Dec. 6, 2017, 1:23 pm
BoFiS from Ditmas Park says:
Of course, this is only here because of all the recent gentrification that the high rises have brought to the you have to attract white tenants with things like a Whole Foods and Apple Store :-P
Dec. 6, 2017, 1:42 pm
Jeff Graber from Gowanus says:
Welcome, Apple! From all your friends at The Mac Support Store.
Dec. 6, 2017, 3:11 pm
Justin from Brooklyn Heights says:
What is Apple?!?!
Dec. 6, 2017, 5:16 pm
Joey C from Clinton Hills says:
Jeff Graber, are you the grumpy guy that folks complain about on Yelp?
Dec. 7, 2017, 10:58 am
Andrew Porter from Brooklyn Heights says:
I've still got my NYMUG—New York Mac Users Group—T-shirt, and have had Mac computers since the early 1990s. With the demise of the wonderful TekServe on West 23rd Street, this is a great addition to downtown Brooklyn.

Also, people have finally, after many years, stopped asking me, "When are you going to get rid of that Apple computer and get a real (i.e., Windows) one?"
Dec. 7, 2017, 12:50 pm
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
What a waste of prime real estate. Worldwide, Android has 7 times as many users as iOS. What we need is a Google store for people who use real smartphones, not iWannabes.
Dec. 7, 2017, 4:33 pm
Judi Francis from Cobble Hill says:
Yup, Vince, it's about time! Yey apple!
Dec. 8, 2017, 1:51 pm
Tom Lino from Boerum Hill says:
You could almost call it Boerum Hill but it is across the way from Barclays Arena in Prospect Heights. OK, Fort Greene and not Park Slope, I guess.
Dec. 8, 2017, 2:46 pm

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