Microsoft's first specialty retail store in Maryland opened Thursday morning inside the Columbia mall to a queue of approximately 100 eager shoppers.
The open air kiosk-style store, which is one of 93 across North America, is located in the mall's center court on the lower level, and resembles a holiday "pop up store" that operated in center court from December 2012 to February 2013.
The store, which has 12 employees, offers the company a physical presence to sell its products – which includes XBOX, Windows Phones, PCs, and the Surface tablet – as well as provide customers technical support and assistance.
"Microsoft wants to have a large footprint and we want to be here for the customer. The customer is our main focus and they demand more stores," said Justin Miller, manager of the Columbia store.
"We have a lot of products and services. ... that the customers love and want to see."
Miller said the Columbia mall is the "ideal location" for the first specialty store in Maryland.
"We track where our customers are spending and where they are buying, and Columbia is one of those areas we really wanted to be in," Miller said. "Columbia is a really great area, a nice community."
Miller said he was excited about the turnout, which included shoppers lining up in the center court prior to the store's 10 a.m. opening. As the morning progressed, the line of shoppers only grew and began to wrap around the nearby fountain.
As part of the opening, the store offered it's 64 gigabyte Surface tablet at a discounted price of $199. The product retails online at Microsoft's website for $449.
Miller said the product is "versatile" and ideal for "work and play."
Columbia mall management denied media access to shoppers during the event citing company policy, and also declined to be interviewed for the story.
In addition to the Microsoft store, the mall, which is owned by General Growth Properties, also has a host of other technology tenants – which includes an Apple store, an AT&T experience store – another Maryland first – a Best Buy, a Bose and a Brookstone.