Bren Miller arrived before dawn at the Verizon store on Columbiana Circle near Harbison Boulevard on Friday morning, beating even hard-core Apple lovers to the head of the line for the brands iPhone 5 release.
The Irmo woman was ready to upgrade her old slider phone to the sleek new smartphone.
Im going from the Stone Age to the Jetsons, she said.
Miller was among thousands worldwide who crowded Apple stores and wireless carriers that sell the iconic brand for the hotly anticipated release of the new phone with a bigger screen and faster Internet speeds.
Pre-orders for the phone passed 2 million in the first 24 hours after it went on sale Sept. 12, pushing Apples stock past the $700 mark for the first time ever earlier this week. One analyst predicts sales of the phone alone could boost U.S. economic growth by half a percentage point over the last few months of the year.
In an economy still struggling to recover from a deep recession that ended three years ago, a hot product like the iPhone 5 that prompts consumers to spend money through the critical holiday shopping season is a welcome player in the retail market.
Most of those who pre-ordered will have to wait until next month to get their hands on their new phone. But for those who couldnt wait that long to snag one, Friday was the day the phones went on sale in stores.
The Verizon store wasnt the only one with lines in South Carolina.
Apple stores in Greenville and Charleston handled large early morning crowds of people looking for the new iPhone. Columbia does not have an Apple store so consumers had to buy their phones at other outlets.
AT&T stores around the state had lines of up to about 40 people Friday morning as well, some even arriving late Thursday night to camp out, said Lisa Park, director of retail sales for South Carolina.
Some customers want to stay on top of technology and consider it a badge of pride to carry around the latest device, Park said. Those lined up outside, they wanted to have the latest and greatest.
While Park said the in-store launch has been on par with previous iPhone releases, she said the company had an unprecedented amount of pre-orders. Apple fans are some of the most loyal fans out there.
Several dozen people lined up before the 8 a.m. opening of the Harbison-area Verizon store. When the store began letting customers inside, each person paired up with an employee to receive and activate their phones.
Chase Toler, 18, was among them, looking to upgrade his flip phone to the iPhone 5.
The Dutch Fork High School senior was barely a teenager when Apple released the original iPhone in 2007.
Ill be the one with the newest phone at school today, Toler said, looking forward to having the ability to text. He has a study hall first on Friday mornings so he did not miss class to get the phone, he added.
Toler researched the phone for a few months and negotiated with his mother to remain on her phone plan as long as he paid for the initial cost of the phone and $40 a month toward the bill, which he can afford by working at a part-time job in the mall.
Tolers sales clerk let him be the first to touch and turn on his new iPhone 5. He commented on how lightweight it was and said he liked the Lightning connector, used for charging the phone and syncing data.
Across the store, Timothy Wilcox got his new iPhone 5.
The self-proclaimed Apple geek was second in line Friday, arriving at 5 a.m. He had visited the store on Thursday with his twin sister, Tina, so she could get a Samsung Galaxy S III. She came back with him Friday to get his birthday present, the new iPhone 5.
I swear by Apple, Timothy Wilcox said.
His patience paid off as he was handed his new phone Friday morning.
Its like my new baby, Wilcox said. They stepped it up.