Buzz builds as Microsoft prepares to open first store in Utah

Published: Wednesday, April 10 2013 5:32 p.m. MDT

The Microsoft store in the City Creek Center in Salt Lake City opens Thursday, April 11 at 10:30 a.m. Photo taken on Wednesday, April 10, 2013.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — In contrast to minimalistic, white- and light-colored Apple stores, the new Microsoft store at City Creek Center is brightly colored and busy.

A 125-foot digital wall wraps around the store, featuring Microsoft's newest products and promotions. Near the front is the living room, where customers can play on the Xbox Kinect. Three gaming stations in the back are available for those who want to play a quick game or have an Xbox tournament, with their games appearing on the digital wall. 

Doors open for the first Microsoft store in Utah at 11 a.m. Thursday.

The first 200 customers inside the store will receive two tickets to an exclusive concert from the rock pop band Train at Gallivan Plaza on Saturday. One of the two tickets includes an after-show opportunity to meet the band. The next 1,000 customers will receive general admission tickets and gifts bags will be given out while supplies last. There will also be discounts for Microsoft products such as PCs, Windows phones and Xbox releases.

Microsoft is also promoting its newest product, Surface, available in tablet and laptop versions. Throughout the store there are smartphones, PCs, tablets and other Microsoft products. All products in the store are touch screen. 

The City Creek store is Microsoft's 33rd full line store offering all of the company's current products. There are also 28 specialty stores, including one that will be opening in Fashion Place Mall on April 19. 

"The store will offer valuable products and services for the local community," said Linda Wardell, general manager of City Creek Center. "In addition to the lineup of activities for the grand opening, we are looking forward to a strong partnership between Microsoft, City Creek Center and the broader Salt Lake City community."

The new Microsoft store at City Creek Center promises to be a part of the community in addition to its retail operations.

One way the new store hopes to become part of the community is with its community theater, near the back of the store, which is free for the public to use for educational or other events. It's what store manager Michael Reagan is "most excited about."

Set up like a classroom, seven tables and pull-out padded benches face a 103-inch flat screen TV. Events could range from Xbox birthday parties to Boy and Girl Scouts earning merit badges to quilting groups and book clubs, Reagan said. 

Microsoft is also developing relationships throughout the community. On March 27, the Microsoft store staff pitched in to clean up Wheeler Farm in Murray. Each of the 45 staff members at the City Creek store is encouraged to find ways to connect Microsoft to its new neighbors.  

"We do that totally as a service to help the community because we're just so excited to be here," Reagan said. "It's just Microsoft's way of giving back to the community." 

As part of its grand opening ceremony, Microsoft will also present nearly $1.5 million in software grants to local organizations Junior Achievement, Sorenson Unity Computer Center — which announced its donation will total $150,000 — YMCA of Northern Utah and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. 

The store will provide free weekly workshops for customers, including an interactive tech tots program for children 2 to 5 years old and software workshops to teach specifics about any of the Microsoft programs.

Summer camps for children begin in June and will run for two hours each day through August. Children can learn technology and movie making skills in the store. Customers can register for these camps online at the end of April. 

Those with questions or product problems can stop by the Answer Desk near the back of the store. Employees will diagnose hardware problems free of charge, regardless of brand or original retailer.  

Even Apple products, Reagan added.  

The Microsoft store is one of 14 stores that have joined City Creek since the center's grand opening a year ago, according to Dee Brewer, marketing and sponsorship director for City Creek. It joins new additions Johnny Rockets restaurant and Albion Apparel — a City Creek tenant that moved into a permanent location.

Upcoming additions to City Creek include the food court stop Mr. Sushi, which will open in early May, and Brio Tuscan Grille set to open in early June.

E-mail: wevans@deseretnews.com

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