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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Master Builder event was in full swing as soon as it started, with Chris the Master Builder supervising.
It turns out that everyone could build, not just kids. So I took my turn.
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.
Now…..do I build it or keep it?