The care and feeding of Apple fans hungry for new Apple products can only be matched, it seems, by their insatiable desire for new Apple retail stores.
Which is why Fitzgerald Geonzon was willing to wait in line overnight to be The Very First Person on Saturday morning to enter the newer, bigger, sleeker Apple store in Palo Alto at 340 University Avenue -- less than two blocks from its former location down the street.
That's where, just last month, the 17-year-old Geonzon had waited in line three full days to be the second person to enter the 11-year-old store to buy the new iPhone 5.
"It's like being part of history," the Menlo-Atherton High School senior said of his 15-hour adventure, which began at 7 p.m. Friday. "You get to tell everyone that you're the first person who went inside the building."
Once again, thousands of Apple tribe members standing in long lines around the block Saturday testified to the global tech giant's unwavering consumer base.
The line included young children, teens and adults, brimming with anticipation to enter the store -- and the promise of a free T-shirt to the first 1,000 customers.
The first crush of shoppers was greeted by loud music and 150 employees on either side of a narrow gauntlet cheering on shoppers -- and high-fiving them along the way.
Abbi Vakil, a hardware engineer who designs accessories for Apple products but is not an Apple employee, was the first to buy an Apple product on site -- an iPhone adapter that enables him to use every generation of iPhones and iPads.
"I wanted to be one of the first to come into the store,'' Vakil said, "because it will never be this new again."
Around noon, Apple CEO Tim Cook stopped by the new store to check out the scene.
In less than a week, the same location -- among other Apple stores -- will witness another such celebration when the iPad Mini goes on sale at 8 a.m. Friday.
The 45-year-old Vakil seemed impressed by the spacious and airy building, which is 70 percent larger than its precursor and fronted by a 25-foot-long wall of glass. The store includes a briefing room -- the first of its kind in the Bay Area -- in the back that allows business customers to work closely with Apple employees, as well as a 25-foot-long "360 Genius Bar" so customers and staff can sit next to each other around a communal table.
Once inside the crowded site, Vakil, of Mountain View, seemed more determined to become the First Person To Purchase Something -- a goal he strategically noted hadn't been slowed down by buying something like an iPhone, which requires precious time to fill out a service contract.
"It's a race of the fastest, not the fittest," Vakil said of buying the tiny adapter, the receipt for which was autographed by the store manager.
While the anticipation to enter the Den of Apple was palpable among those standing in line, more than a few observers outside remained amused by the spectacle.
"It's very odd," said Carol Head, in town from Los Angeles to attend an event at Stanford, where she'd received her MBA. "What other retail store opening would generate this kind of excitement?"
The rumor is that a large Apple store will open in early 2013 next to Neiman Marcus at the Stanford Shopping Center. It would replace the closet-like Apple retail outpost that's been at the mall since 2004. That's the one that's uncomfortably close -- about 20 feet away -- to a brand new Microsoft store.
Apple officials won't confirm or deny the rumor.
Contact Tracy Seipel at 408 275-0140.