19 jul 2012

Out with the old and in with the new: Puerta del Sol's Tío Pepe to become Apple Store

Tío Pepe - ever visible in the Puerta del Sol, Madrid

Since 1936, every madrileño and tourist has been welcomed into the Puerta del Sol by the grand, luminous red, green and white lights of Tío Pepe. The ever lit bottle logo, with equally bright sombrero, torero (typically short, Andalucian jacket) and guitar, has become a recognizable and memorable mark within the Spanish city. However, the iconic company, who celebrated their 165th anniversary in 2009, is soon to be replaced at número 1 de la Puerta del Sol by the construction of a four storey Apple Store. The move has been highly criticized here in Madrid, because it signifies the removal of one of Sol´s most symbolic buildings and one of the marks that has survived through times of civil war, dictatorship, building reforms, and throughout all of which the building has remained to symbolize tradition and the Spanish culture that we all know and love.

Since the announcement of the building changes, there has been a plea throughout the Spanish capital to give their beloved Tío Pepe time to find another home in the Puerta del Sol, before the American multinational takes over the reins at the forefront one of Madrid´s most visited areas. Situated alongside the ever iconic Bear and the Madroño Tree statue on the east side of the Puerta del Sol, as well as falling next to the area´s metro station, the Apple Store will have an ample supply of visitors on a daily basis. As for Tío Pepe´s relocation, there have been rumours of the legendary madrileño finding a new home in Barajas.

Apple Store soon to arrive in the Puerta del Sol, Madrid
The controversy however, falls on two fronts. Firstly, the refurbishments to the building will mean that two floors are eliminated all together, reducing the building from a six to a four story building, with the top two floors seemingly being allocated for meeting rooms and executive offices. The second though, represents a greater detriment to the madrileños and the ever recognizable Puerta del Sol. There are fears throughout Spain´s capital that the foundation of the Apple Store will not provide Sol and the surrounding areas with the same historic image as set forth by Tío Pepe. Much like Covent Garden is to London, and Opera is to Paris, the Puerta de Sol is vital to Madrid and it´s culture, and the often named ´Tío Pepe building´ has been a pivotal monument to the Puerta del Sol. With these points in mind, the question in Madrid is whether the construction of an ultra modern Apple Store based on technological advancements and futuristic equipment is the best choice for the Puerta del Sol, or whether the company are somewhat breaking the mould in what is the most visited part of the Spanish capital.

Despite the shortfalls to the building´s renovation, the opening of the store could yet bring a new lease of life to the Puerta del Sol. With estimates about the size and opening times taken into account, it is thought that the Apple Store could welcome upwards to six million visitors a year, a figure which would excel in the ever attractive and touristic Puerta del Sol. The modern day approach that the Apple Store takes with regards to customer service, product innovation and brand promotion could yet signify that the Puerta del Sol is set to become more alive than ever before. This is set to be Apple´s first full entrance into the Spanish capital, although we should note the establishment of three Apple stores in the surrounding areas of Leganés, Majadahonda and in the Xanadú shopping centre, the last of which was the opening of Apple´s second store in Spain.
 With rumour suggesting that the store is likely to open in autumn of 2012, the days of Tío Pepe are numbered. Long gone are the days where the Puerta de Sol´s skies were paved with green, red and white, and those same skylines will soon be flooded with the silver neon glow of the Apple, Inc. logo.

Tío Pepe will forever be remembered in Sol
Here at AIL Madrid, we are very sad to see Tío Pepe go, we can only hope that it returns to light up the night´s sky sometime soon! Only one question remains, can we wait for the arrival of the new Apple Store? iCant. 

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