The Bellevue Square Apple Store reopened Saturday morning, to applause and a line of Apple enthusiasts.
The new store is about three times the size of the old , which was on the ground floor of the mall. That store opened in 2003, about two years after Apple began creating retail stores.
The new Bellevue store is now the largest in the Pacific Northwest, though store officials did not release square footage.
Bellevue Square also has the largest storefront of any mall location and a skylight as large as the old Apple Store front door, said Duke Zurek, Apple market director. He said having a skylight in the store was a factor in choosing to relocate to the second floor of .
The store also is just upstairs from its old location in the mall, and happens to overlook the which opened its seventh retail store . When the Microsoft Store opened, it dwarfed the old Apple Store.
The new Bellevue Apple Store has the first 360-degree Genius Bar, Apple's customer service desk where customers can sign up to get in-person help with their iPhones, iPads, iPods and MacBook computers.
Zurek said that the store has 140 employees today, about eight times the number of employees as when the store opened. Apple also ramped up hiring in anticipation of the new store, he said.
Zurek also wouldn't say if there are any new products coming out.
Robert Valdez of Kirkland, who was parked on a lawn chair chilling on a MacBook while waiting in line two hours for the store to open, said he used to work at the Apple Store and was excited to see the new location.
"I am so excited. These guys work really hard, all of them," he said. "This is a new chapter for them."
Above is some Twitter reaction to the new store reopening. Unfortunately, I could not include akayalpasan's tweet in the Storify because we want to remain a family-friendly site (warning, mild language).
Rumors have circulated since May 2011 that Apple would relocate the store to a larger location(here via Macrumor and ifoApplestore) on the second floor of the mall. The current location has been closed off and under construction for months, but there was no confirmation of what store was going into the space next to Papyrus. with an email to customers.
Editor's Note: If the above embedded Storify widget isn't opening for you, here is a direct link.