New brand store in San Francisco opening report

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View image at flickr

Huw posted earlier this week that it was a slow LEGO news week. Maybe in many areas of the world, but here in Northern California, it's been a great LEGO week.

Last weekend we had the well attended Bricks by the Bay convention, and this weekend, we had the grand opening of the LEGO store in downtown San Francisco!

I'd had the date marked on my calendar as soon as I learned about the new store. My main goal was to get 40145 LEGO Brand Retail Store, which has been on my wish list since I came out of my Dark Ages. There were giveaways for each day of the opening weekend: a backpack on Friday, the store set on Saturday, and a set of three minifigs on Sunday. Therefore, Saturday was my day. The only question: how early should I get there?

I originally thought that I'd get there two hours before opening; but after seeing email traffic on the issue I got a little nervous and decided to get there an hour earlier. I arrived shortly after 7 a.m. for a 10 a.m. opening. Fortunately for me, there were only about 25 people in line when I got there. I found out the first family in line had been there since 4:30 a.m.

By the time 8 o'clock came around the line was a lot longer, and growing fast. Another hour later, the line rounded the corner and stretched down the block on Market Street.

SF CA brand store opening

The time went easily, as most of the people early in the line were fellow members of the local LEGO Users Group, BayLUG. We spent time catching up on but also answering a lot of questions from passers by wondering what the line was for -- more than one person asked if Apple was coming out with something new!

Around 8:30 LEGO staff came out and told us that the mall would open their doors especially for us at 9:45, and they would lead us downstairs to the queuing area outside the store. Which is exactly what happened; they let about 100 of us in, as that was about the number that fit in the queue partitions that had been set up. (I took this picture later in the morning; when it happened I was far too focused on getting to the store!)

SF CA brand store opening

Then, it was only a few minutes of anxious waiting until the store opened. Most of us recognized staff from other stores in the area who were helping out for the weekend.

SF CA brand store opening

There were cheers and applause at 10 o'clock when the doors opened. Even though LEGO has been calling this a flagship store, I didn't find it larger than any of the other stores in the Bay Area. They had a rather nice display of the evolution of the LEGO logo in one of their store windows.

SF CA brand store opening

They do have a Pick & Build wall. I had thought that perhaps I would see some of the sand green pieces I've heard about at other stores, but I didn't see any today.

SF CA brand store opening

Not surprisingly, everyone got right down to business, and chose their sets to check out right away. The line for the checkout got to be quite long, even though they only let about 50 people in the store at a time.

SF CA brand store opening

I was one of those expedient shoppers. I selected the set I'd been saving for this trip (41180 Ragana's Magic Shadow Castle, in case you're curious). After taking an extra lap around the store to see if I'd missed anything, I paid for my set. I was wondering if LEGO may have a set that was exclusive to San Francisco as they do in other cities, but it doesn't look as that's the case.

I was very impressed with the logistics of getting people to the store. Since the mall opened at 10, the original line to get in the store was outside. They let the first 100 or so people in right before the mall opened. However, after the mall opened, LEGO staff monitored the front and back of the queuing partitions in front of the store. When there was enough room in the queue, two LEGO employees went outside where the remainder of the line was and escorted the next 10 or so people to the inside line. I thought it was a nice way to ensure that line jumping would be at a minimum.

Shopping complete, LEGO activities were not finished.

SF CA brand store opening

The Master Builder event was in full swing as soon as it started, with Chris the Master Builder supervising.

SF CA brand store opening

It turns out that everyone could build, not just kids. So I took my turn.

SF CA brand store opening

SF CA brand store opening

When I left about 11:30, the line to get into the store was at least as long as it had been when the store opened, still stretching down Market Street. I'm very glad I went early!

Best of all, I got what I've always wanted.

SF CA brand store opening

Now…..do I build it or keep it?

22 comments on this article

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By in United Kingdom,

Build!

It's been years since a brand store opened in the UK, although I know I shouldn't complain: at least we have them.

Still, we have the opening of the 'flagship' store in London to look forward to, which I believe is scheduled for late November.

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By in United Kingdom,

Looking forward to the opening of the new London store, and getting that same set!

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By in Canada,

I suppose I missed it then if it was offered here last year. To bad. I did get the minifigures from the local opening although I didn't find them all that exciting. Sounds like you had an exciting day.

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By in Australia,

Still waiting for an Australian store...

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By in United States,

Did they have 3 minifigure exclusive pack?>

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By in China,

3 minifigure pack is today! Surprisingly, still got the Lego store set after entering the line at 9:30am.

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By in United States,

Build the exclusive set! Nice pictures, MeganL. I especially like the display of the LEGO logo.

I grew up in San Jose and would've loved to have a LEGO in the City when I was a kid, and especially at a cool mall such as that.

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By in United States,

Even though I'm a northern California resident, I didn't get to go this weekend since I was moving down to San Diego for college. Thankfully, Another store is opening here in San Diego not too long from now, then I can finally get the Retail Store set I've wanted for so long! (and the Volkswagen Beetle I've wanted for not quite as long)

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By in United States,

Girlfriend and I were in that line yesterday starting at 9:30am. We finally got our two promo sets around 1:00pm. We barely made it for the promo store sets...phew!

We're about to enter the store right now for those exclusive minifigs. The line was much shorter today. Hello to anyone from Brickset who's here today! :D

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By in France,

When the Paris Flagship store opened there was no promo store set. Does anyone know if Lego has a particular policy of when they make it available? Is it only in America?

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By in China,

They have also had the giveaways in Canada and UK.

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By in United States,

I can't wait to go there

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By in United States,

I've always wanted a LEGO store promotional set, too. I would absolutely keep it unopened, though. The City Square set already includes a superior LEGO Store building.

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By in United States,

Thanks for the report! I was out of town this weekend but will stop by soon. Were the prices higher in this store than on shop.lego.com? The New York flagship store marks everything up about 5-10% because they are a "high-profile destination" as was explained to me.

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By in United States,

Build it! A couple years ago there was a store opening in the Seattle area but I was working in Alaska, luckily I have a badass brother who went to it and picked up one of the Lego store sets (after buying the F1 for himself). When I got back from Alaska he just gave it to me. I built it and wrote a review with pics on here. Such a fun build!

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By in Sweden,

Nice report, thanks for sharing. About the set: Build it, of course.

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By in United States,

I went to the store on Friday to check it out because I had other activities on Sat and Sun. I found it a little disappointing and probably won't go back there. I mostly visit the stores for their Pick & Build wall to get pieces for my daughter. With only 10 columns of pieces, this store has the smallest one in the Bay Area. Having the Pick-a-Model really hurts their selection.

Did get a large cup of pieces as well as some other sets. Just enough to get the backpack for my kid. So she'll be a happy camper.

I will say it is very easy to get to if you take BART. Just get off at the Powell Street station and there is an entrance to the Westfield Centre rght there.

@micano as far as I could tell, the prices were the same as other stores and shop.lego.com.

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By in United States,

My buddy went for me since I was out of town. He got to the mall around 10:00am. He got into the store well after 2pm and checked out at 2:30pm and still received the promotional set, albeit there were only 4 left after his purchase. Pretty crazy!

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By in Sweden,

Always fun with new Lego stores!

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By in United States,

Thank you for such a detailed article on the opening weekend. I think your entry was the only one online. It was a once in a lifetime experience over the 3 days. And to cap it off you captured a nice moment in the store. I'm the guy in the maroon Apple beanie at the front of the register. And yes, that's a diaper bag over my shoulder. Thanks again and keep up the great work on this site, by far one of my favorites.

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By in United States,

Thanks, @niteraven! I got to the store yesterday and I agree that the prices are in line with other stores and shop.lego.com. What I liked about this store is that the majority of the display cases were devoted to showing built current sets instead of generic LEGO constructions – gives a better idea of what the sets look like when fully constructed. I was surprised to see how big 42056 Porsche 911 GT3 RS was. Disappointed that they didn't have any Collectible Minifigure packs and the one salesperson I asked about them didn't seem to know what I was referring to.

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By in United States,

I was also there on Saturday, and despite arriving at 9:30am, was thrilled to get one of the exclusive sets. The queuing was very well organized, and despite the crowds, the employees were very friendly and helpful. It's so great to have a LEGO Store in SF, and in such a convenient location!

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