Apple stores have always been welcoming sites in many cities we’ve visited. Locations like Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Istanbul, and New York’s Grand Central Terminal, have been drawing not only shoppers but also tourists, design and architecture lovers alike. I’ve always had an interest in how retailers like Apple work in the best flow of foot traffic and how to optimize accessibility within their stores. When you’re in a busy location like the Toronto Eaton Centre that caters to a variety of visitors, offering a full customer experience is no small feat and it’s all in the details.

The original Apple store at the Eaton Centre opened in May of 2006 with 42 staff members to welcome curious consumers. It was the second store to open in Canada after the successful Yorkdale Mall opening in 2005. Today, Apple Store Eaton Centre has a whopping 325 staff on the roster at this location alone and offers service in 28 different languages including ASL, French, Spanish, and Mandarin.

The overview of the new space is what we’ve come to expect from Apple — airy and uncluttered with the ability to have hands-on experiences. Yes, many of us still need to hold items in our hands before making our decisions. A front entrance check-in staff member quickly determines who will assist each customer from personalizing your own watch at the Apple Watch Studio to learning about the features on the latest iPhone 11 Pro or testing out Apple’s highly anticipated Apple Arcade or checking in for a creative session. Of course, set up and technical assistance are also available. If you purchase an Apple product in store the staff can also offer help with setting up email to offering tips and tricks on how to improve productivity.

Along the perimeter of the store are “Avenues” featuring additional hands-on experiences like trying on Beats headphones or to quickly pick up a few accessories including iPad covers & sleeves, additional watch bands, iPhone and AirPod cases and more. You will also find Apple compatible tech gadgets including DJI Osmo Mobile 3 Gimbal, Star Wars LightSaber Interactive Battling System, and Hot Wheels ID.

A real exciting space is the “The Forum” — an open area where customers can relax and participate in one of the many Today at Apple Sessions offered daily, a series of hands-on learning workshops that focuses on photography, video making, music, coding and more for a variety of ages led by expert staff. The most recent class I participated in was Video Lab: Small Screen Magic Co-created with Zach King. Within an hour, I was able to leave with a few video editing tips and tricks inspired by the filmmaker/YouTuber to impress my family and friends…and yes, social media following (if you want to check out my first “jumpcut” I made using Apple Clips, visit my Instagram @theculturepearl).

Other sessions include a photography walk offering tips on how to make the most of your iPhone including how to manually set your settings to capture your favourite light. The sessions are available across Canada and are FREE – just reserve your spot online. BTW, here’s a tip when you travel to other cities where there’s an Apple Store…look into this “photography walk” session – always led by a local and they’ll often take you to some interesting spots for great photos! Also, keep an eye for Apple Camp where fun coding and creative sessions are designed for kids ages 8 to 12 (free). My younger participated in several of them and we both learned something new each time! You may want to sign up here to find out when registration is open for summer 2020.

Speaking of kids, Photo Lab For Kids: Festive Family Portraits is a fun session to teach kids how to create family photos from selecting backgrounds, using different light sources, and adding on text and other finishes to share over the holiday season. There are a few dates and times available this month.

Over 80,000 Canadians have participated in their learning sessions. Check out what creative sessions are being offered and the schedules here:  Today at Apple