iMac Rollout in Topeka: Bye-Bye Best Buy!

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iMac Rollout in Topeka: Bye-Bye Best Buy!

November 10, 1998

“This is last time I’ll bother with Best Buy! And you can quote me on that!”

Jason, the official iMac representative, and I stood at attention behind a large rack of close-out Windows software. A couple of folding chairs would have been welcome as the day wore on. Heck, a nod and a smile at the iMac would have been welcome.

No Balloons. No fanfare. No enthusiasm. Not even a friendly greeting from the salespeople passing by. The last straw? One of the passing salespeople asked Jason, dressed in the prescribed iMac shirt and khaki pants while handing out iMac brochures, if he might “help you with a computer, sir.”

If this is an Apple-aware, iMac-trained, ready-for-action bunch, I’ll eat my nowhere-to-be-found Imation SuperDrive. Sadly, I’ve always considered our Topeka Best Buy the most computer savvy, well staffed store in the area. But even Carlos, the friendly sales manager who had seemed so enthusiastic when we’d spoken the day before, never stumbled across us behind our seemingly impregnable software shield.

Not that he was allowed to say much when I attempted an interview for MacTimes except to watch for the Sunday ad. Apparently, the iMac rollout was top secret – only on a need-to-know basis. So secret, in fact, that no one knew we were there. Even the Mac Users Group, who had long ago quit reading the local Sunday circulars, missed the grand event.

True, the iMac was featured on the front page of the November 8th Best Buy circular. It was a decent-sized ad offering an iMac and an Epson 740 for $1499, with no payments due until January. But, with no prior announcements and no hoopla surrounding the day itself, we pretty much stood in our corner and watched the world go by.

The best part was looking up at the end wall to see dozens of iMacs looking back down at us. But there they stayed. The only iMac on the floor was our demo, thankfully no longer crouched between a couple of giant Acer Aspires. ( What do they *do* with all the excess space inside that prow-shaped monster!?) Unfortunately, the lone iMac banner was hung on the other end of the computer display over, you guessed it, another Acer.

I need not have worried overly much about the lack of USB Imation drives to accompany our iMacs home. When I abandoned the watch about 4:30, Jason had given his well informed talk to several possible buyers and had a nice chat with several Mac sorts who drifted past. But not even a nibble of a sale.

Having recently worked with the OS 8.5 introduction at CompUSA in KC, Jason found the lack of iMac interest especially discouraging. But even more discouraging was the apparent disinterest by the Best Buy staff. It seems that any Apple training has yet to trickle down to the salespeople on the floor.

So, though hopeful on Saturday, I left Best Buy Sunday feeling pretty discouraged. The good news is that the Mac has indeed got a foothold in town and it appears that there will now be some Mac software available locally.

The bad news is that, as soon as the demo is over, the iMac may find its bondi-blue self once again stashed between a pair of Hulk Hogans to the amused comments of passers by.

But the great news is, if anyone manages to find and buy an iMac from our local Best Buy, it appears they will take home the new version all decked out with VRAM and improved video, not to mention OS 8.5. A gamers’ delight for the holidays.

But precious little delight for the Mac fan in Topeka.

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