January 3, 2004

Mixed Feelings about Apple Store in Bethesda Maryland

Mac Network News is reporting an Apple store coming to Bethesda, Maryland in Montgomery Mall.

I have very mixed feelings about the Apple store coming. While I trek to the Tysons and Clarendon stores in Northern Virginia and would love a store 5 to 10 minutes from my house, I still feel a very close tie to the local Apple resellers. I am a huge fan of the Absolute Mac store as they have an extremely knowledgeable staff, great customer service, and quick turn around times on perfectly done repairs and upgrades (I am willing to make the 20 minute trek to the store on Saturdays -- no late weeknight hours). (Absolute Mac has also been a fantastic resource to the local business community that understands Apple products let them get their job done and not have the computer get in the way.) I am also a customer of Mac Upgrades here in Bethesda and enjoy the ability to drop in on my way home from work or as a walk-in while doing other errands.

The local Apple resellers have provided expertise beyond what the Apple stores have provided and have better turn around on service times. The local stores are also very tied to the local community. The Absolute Mac store has been pushing to start a chapter of the local MUG, Washington Apple Pi, which would be a great meet-and-share for the Maryland Apple fans, while Mac Upgrades is a sponsor of Apple Pi.

All this said, I look forward to the Apple store coming to Montgomery Mall (my guess is it is going in where the Eddie Bauer store just vacated, which is near the official Palm kiosk). The Apple stores do a great job of introducing Apple products to the frustrated uninitiated PC consumers. The Apple stores are great venues to sit and watch new Apple users, be it iPod, iTunes, or Mac computers, come in and rave about their new found joy in digital consumer products and great computing products that actually let them do their job. I don't know how many times I hear customers stating they no longer battle their computer to do their work and are no longer wasting time or a lot of money on support for their PCs. These folks have been hardcore software programmers, business managers, store owners, students, designers, stay-at-home moms, etc. The love affair for Apple product grows from new seeds in Apple stores. The stores also provides hands-on experience to third-party consumer products and a broad array of software and add-ons.

While the Apple stores are great outreach and expansion devices for Apple and its great computing resources for consumers and enterprise buyers, the support and feeding on the Apple community has been performed by the local resellers and authorized repair shops. It would be great to have the Apple store offer repair and other services from Absolute Mac and Mac Upgrades, where applicable. Apple really needs to foster these relationships that have maintained and grown fans of great products for years.

Posted Comments

Deep thanks to George for the heads up and link.

Eddie Bauer did not vacate in the Montgomery Mall.

Don't forget about Mac Business Solutions, also in Gaithersburg - but closer in.

I was in the Eddie Bauer store over the weekend. They're having a 'store closing' sale, and I heard the cashier tell a customer that Apple would be taking over that space.

I too was totally amped to have the Apple store come to Bethesda. Iíve made several pilgrimages to both the Tysonís Corner and Arlington stores. I always went with a friend to have fun (drink coffee) or check out the latest iPod or software or something. Always a good time! When I heard the Apple store was coming to Bethesda, I was really excited to have an official connection to Apple service. I had taken my own stuff to MacUpgrades (and my employerís sick Macs) several times and found them to be rushed, and not providing the type of service Iíve been accustomed to in the past. The last time I was there, they literally were talking down to me like I was some kind of ding-a-ling who knew nothing about anything. As a professional graphics designer (and 10 year Mac vet), I felt like I had been insulted by a geek, who did not know better. I let it go. When they still had not fixed (or touched) my computer a week later, I yanked it and took it to the Apple store. I was pretty excited to get the insanely great ìApple treatmentî direct from Apple. Well, I felt like I was a balloon, and someone had stuck a pin in me. I had no clue that there would be a line, and after waiting for about an hour (and kind of getting the run around) I had to leave to get to a meeting. Which I guess was a blessing in disguise, because I heard the Apple Genius tell someone at the bar that it would be a 7 to 10 day turn around. When I called my office to check in, my next-door cubicle neighbor asked which direction I was headed on the beltway. She had just heard from someone else at our office that had just attended an AIGA event about a company in Prince Georges County that did Mac repairs. When I got out of my meeting I looked them up. They were pretty close the beltway and only about 10 minutes from where I was in Landover, MD. When I got there I was blown away. They insisted on carrying my G4 into their shop (much better than lugging it thru the mall & bonus brownie points for service). They then asked me if I minded waiting for a minute while they took a quick look at it. Not only did they look it, they fixed it (in about 15 minutes) and did so for free. Apparently they just gave a quick check of the cables (re-seated them all), and re-set the computerís power manager and it came right up for them. It might not be in Bethesda, but Iíll most definitely consider taking my gear back to MacMedics 888-432-6227 http://www.macmedics.com. They, also do on-site work as well.

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