First customer at ‘floating’ Singapore Apple store at MBS had sleepless night, arrived 4 hours early

Polytechnic student Ervin Liyu was the first customer to enter the new Apple store at Marina Bay Sands on Sept 10, 2020. — TODAY pic
Polytechnic student Ervin Liyu was the first customer to enter the new Apple store at Marina Bay Sands on Sept 10, 2020. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, Sept 10 — It was a sleepless night for polytechnic student Ervin Liyu yesterday as he anticipated the opening of Apple’s first store on water.

Leaving his Bukit Gombak home before daybreak today, the 19-year-old drove to Marina Bay Sands mall and waited outside from 6am, four hours before the “floating” store was set to open. 

He was the first customer to enter the new store on Thursday. He was also the first through the door at Apple’s Jewel Changi Airport shop when it opened in July last year.

Speaking to TODAY as he exited the Marina Bay Sands store, Liyu said: “It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

“I am a design student myself, so I love great design,” he said, adding that he bought a sports band for his Apple Watch. 

When asked if he saw himself as Singapore’s staunchest Apple fan, Liyu said: “I am too embarrassed to call myself that.”

Visitors to the store — Apple’s third in Singapore — enter via an underwater tunnel from the basement of the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.

The new outlet takes the space previously occupied by the Avalon nightclub.

Apple store openings tend to draw large crowds, but the shop at Marina Bay Sands accepted visits by appointment only on Thursday to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infection spreading.

At 9.30am, TODAY counted about 30 people in a queue at the basement entrance. Among them were students and retirees waiting patiently for the shop to open at 10am. 

Staff members were seen reminding customers to keep a safe distance from one another. 

As the glass doors slid open on the dot of 10am, more than a dozen Apple employees performed a cheer before welcoming the waiting patrons in small batches. A staff member accompanied each group. 

Customer Lee Yi Lin, 40, said he was told to confine his visit to about 15 minutes, although TODAY did not see anyone being asked to leave the store for staying beyond the recommended period. 

Apple declined to reveal the number of customers who made appointments on Thursday, but a check on its website showed that all the time slots were taken for the day.

No new products were launched. Many in the queue, which moved quickly as other customers left the shop, said they stopped by because they were drawn to the unconventional architecture. 

Xue Fei, 38, an engineer, visited the store with her 66-year-old father on her day off. Her cousin in China — an Apple fan — had asked her to take photos and videos of the store’s launch.

“He said once he gets the chance, he will want to visit later,” said Ms Xue.

A few people who arrived without appointments were turned away.

Retiree Ow Siew Cheng, 66, who was there with a friend, said she did not know that the store operated on an appointment-only basis on Thursday. 

“We came down to soak in the atmosphere,” Ms Ow said. “But it’s all right; we came down just because we were curious.”

From tomorrow, the store will accept walk-in customers from 10am to 8pm with capacity limits to enable safe distancing. Apple declined to specify what these limits are. — TODAY

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