Thursday, June 11, 2015, marked the Grand Opening of Microsoft at the Mall at University Town Center. With a line around the food court and numerous gifts to be handed out randomly to the crowd, it was quite the scene. Children were able to play Xbox One on a large screen TV in front of the store before the ribbon cutting ceremony began, while the other patrons received Microsoft t-shirts to wear as they stood in line. Once in the store, the first customers received $30 off of the HP Stream 7 tablet and an incredible $300 off of the Dell Inspiron 15 laptop.
During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Microsoft representatives and Sarasota County Commissioner, Paul Caragiulo presented six local organizations with technology grants on behalf of Microsoft. Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Sun Coast, Girls Inc. of Sarasota County, Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Manatee Community Action Agency and Children First all received a tidy sum in grant money. MOTE Marine Laboratory & Aquarium received the astonishing amount of $500,000.00!
Before the unveiling of the new store, loud music played, pumping up the crowd. As soon as the ribbon was cut, the huge curtain covering the storefront came down to reveal all of the Microsoft employees dancing and clapping in their brightly colored uniforms. Later on in the day, Hall of Fame football star, Derrick Brooks, dropped by to play Xbox One with the 200 lucky fans who had secured their tickets earlier in the day.
Microsoft is committed to making a lasting impression on the community and will continue to host great events in its new store. On deck are customer workshops, as well as winter and summer camps for children on break from school. There will also be some huge promotions when Microsoft launches Windows 10 later this year. Be sure to stay tuned to see what they have planned next!
All photos by Shelby Hartshorn / Sarasota Post