Jonas Brothers+iPhones+MacBooks: Soho residents say enough Apple
Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers plays at the Apple Store in New York City.
Is Apple, that quirky computer company of urban hipster cred, turning into that loud out-of-control club neighbors hate?
So say residents and store owners on quiet cobblestone SoHo side streets who are sick of lines stretching around the block, renovation work done at all hours of the night and blasÃ© store managers who scoff at their concerns.
For weeks when they were selling the iPhone, it was like breadlines in Russia, said Sean Sweeney, president of the SoHo Alliance, a neighborhood group and a 30-year resident of the neighborhood. They should know better. Lets just say the bloom is off the apple a little bit.
Sweeney and other community activists penned a letter this week to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, alleging that no bar, nightclub, or construction site comes close to continually ruining our quality of life like Apple SoHo has.
For many, the coup de grace came when the Prince Street flagship hosted a concert by teen-pop sensation the Jonas Brothers last week. Neighbors said that thousands of pre-teen and teenage girls surrounded the store all day to get into its 80-seat theater, and stayed screaming on the sidewalk well past midnight.
They want to create a stir get a big crowd in the street for the events, but they have no right to treat this place like its Madison Square Garden, said Bo Riccobono, 62, a resident of the neighborhood since 1984 and a professor at New York University.
He said Apple has been hosting events each month that draw too large a crowd for the store or narrow streets surrounding it to handle.
Repeated phone calls to Apple representatives were not returned.
The Apple SoHo opened in 2002 when the company started a slew of flagship stores in major metropolitan areas around the world in an effort to cut out third-party retailers and control the buying experience of their products, according to Chris Breen, a senior editor at MacWorld magazine.
There are more than 200 Apple stores worldwide, and a new one opens ever few weeks. In New York, theres three in Manhattan, one in Staten Island and one coming soon in Brooklyn.
The whole point was to come in and experience Apple in this jewel-like environment where you were supposed to feel like it was Tiffanys or something, Breen said. The Jonas Brothers concert was for them to show that, hey, were New York and we are not just a computer company. We are a musical behemoth but in a cool way.
He added that in the future, the store would probably look to tone down its primacy as a rock venue.
They understand the need to be a good neighbor, he said. They are like the 25-year-old who just moved to your building and throws a beer bash once a year but makes sure to tell all the neighbors first so they dont call the police.
And Owen Linzmayer, author of Apple Confidential 2.0: The Definitive History of the Worlds Most Colorful Company said after the success of the iPod, the companys ethos and image changed from scrappy underdog to swaggering corporate cool.
The companys fortunes have changed quite a bit in the last decade, and the attitude has changed as well, he said. They went from being defensive and just trying to survive to now where they clearly are a little more aggressive and dont care as much about public opinion.
Now all of the estimated 10,000 residents tucked into SoHos cast-iron lofts consider the Apple store a bad addition to the neighborhood.
Its convenient, said Carol Chen, a 15-year resident of the neighborhood who said she probably has popped into the store once a month. They always have the newest things. Its exciting.
But being an Apple-user, even a devoted one, doesnt mean SoHo residents succumb to the charms of the store.
Hirotsugu Aoki has lived a few doors down from what is now the Apple store since the 70s in a loft that contains no fewer than five Apple computers, but avoids the store down the street.
For 15 years I was always telling people that they should switch from their PCs, he said. I feel betrayed.