The skies were drab and drizzly but the opening of the new Microsoft store — the company’s 12th — at University Village this morning provided plenty of color and cheer.
By shortly before 9 a.m., hundreds of people were thronging the parking lot outside the store, waiting for the doors to open. Most — or at least the people we talked to — were in line for free tickets to see the band The Black Keys, which will perform at 7 p.m. Friday as part of the store’s opening weekend. Also scheduled is a 2:30 p.m. performance Saturday by OneRepublic.
Shelley Bailey, 42, who works at Nordstrom, had been camping out in sleeping bags with a group of friends since 8 p.m. Wednesday for the chance to score Black Keys tickets. Microsoft gave folding chairs, provided pizza, sandwiches and hand warmers, and showed the “Transformers 3” movie to those who were there overnight, she said. And this morning, employees were giving out laptop bags to those in line.
“We’re excited,” she said, getting the laptop bag. “We’re anticipating some swag!”
Standing next to her in line, Lisa Brooks, a 44-year-old teacher from Kingston, was there with her 14-year-old son Cole and Cole’s friend.
They, too, had come for Black Keys tickets. They had originally brought sleeping bags in the trunk, intending to stay overnight at a friend’s house in Northgate. But when they came down to U. Village Wednesday to check out the scene and saw that Microsoft was giving out sandwiches and chairs and showing movies, “we thought: ‘We’ll have to stay,'” Cole Brooks said.
The short opening ceremony featured a speech by Mayor Mike McGinn, who praised the number of jobs MIcrosoft has created in the area.
Rich Kaplan, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for customer and partner advocacy announced grants that Microsoft is giving to three local organizations as part of the company’s community giving program. The public voted via Facebook to determine how the money should be allocated. Treehouse for Kids will be getting $150,000, Washington STEM will receive $200,000, and YMCA of Greater Seattle will be getting $1.88 million, Kaplan announced.
Then, with a countdown led by Kaplan and store manager Melinda George, the curtain shielding the store was whipped off, revealing a glass-front store filled with cheering and jumping employees clad in bright red, blue, green and yellow shirts. Big monitors along the store walls displayed Xbox avatars clad in colorful employee shirts, also cheering and jumping amid falling confetti.
Here’s a short video from the scene inside the store shortly after the doors opened:
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Bailey, the Nordstrom employee who had come for Black Keys tickets, said she would have to go to work immediately after getting the tickets so couldn’t stay long to browse in the store. But “at the end of the day, even if I don’t buy something at the store, I’ll remember that it’s there.”
The U. Village Microsoft store is one of a total of 75 that the company intends to have open by the next few years. Here’s a story we did earlier on how the stores fit into the company’s consumer strategy.
(Photos, from top to bottom: Shelley Bailey, left, and Lisa Brooks camped out overnight for tickets to The Black Keys’ performance Friday. Mayor Mike McGinn waits to speak at the opening of the U. Village Microsoft store. Microsoft Corporate Vice President Rich Kaplan announces grants to local nonprofit organizations. Previous photos and video by Janet I. Tu. Photo inside Microsoft store by staff photographer Courtney Blethen Riffkin / The Seattle Times)