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Microsoft Store Opens in NJ with Style and Cee Lo Green Concert

By M. D. Caprario

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Freehold, New Jersey, USA - The new Microsoft Store, a recent addition to the Freehold Raceway Mall, held a grand opening event recently to rival all others.

The stunning new retail shop boasts a training room for use by the community as well as the splashy MS-logo colors and accoutrements to which consumers have become accustomeed- and, yes, the store carries computers, software, games, music and phones for sale, and also offers services such as personal training, technical support, ongoing performance tune-ups and more. Computers of all kinds are available, and visitors can try systems to suit all needs and budgets. Product Specialist Chris Sprenger helped this reporter find the world’s most perfect easy-to-transport laptop package, complete with instant-load office software, ten hours of battery life for those long overseas flights, and even a year’s worth of training for just about $1,500- all plug-and-play. That’s pretty good.

Customers gather outside the newest Microsoft Store location to await the opening ceremonies at Freehold Raceway in Freehold, New Jersey

As if the store, itself, weren’t enough of a spectacular destination, the most incredibly knowledgeable and helpful staff from around the country joined those on site to treat visitors to a day of demonstrations, product testing, a “phone challenge” contest, and virtual dance lessons.

 “We’re excited to be here,” Stephanie Bernardino, Product Advisor from the Costa Mesa, California Microsoft Store said. “It’s been great seeing the store roll-out.” Terrific that the store eams all support one another in this way.

Visitors to the new Microsoft Store opening were showered with various freebies and contest prizes, including generous merchandise certificates, and the day's events were capped by an ambitious outdoor concert featuring Grammy Award winning recording artist Cee Lo Green.

Corporate Vice President Frank Holland cuts the ribbon on the new Microsoft Store at Freehold Raceway with Microsoft Store Manager John Knoeppel in Freehold, New Jersey

Green is the Atlanta-born singer-songwriter and record producer who drew fire for "adjusting" the lyrics of Beatle John Lennon's classic "Imagine" when he sang that song at the New Year's Eve celebration in New York City recently.  Using poetic license, the performer presented Lennon's line "Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion, too," as "Nothing to kill or die for, and all religion's true."  What can one say, except that perhaps there was some divine inspiration given to Green at that moment.  After all, both of his parents were ordained ministers in the church in which he grew up singing, and if you look closely at Green's left cheekbone you'll see a tattoo of a cross there.  No matter all that, just as the crowd screamed during his concert at this opening:  We love you, Cee Lo!

Accordingly, employees reported that a crowd had queued up as early as 8:00 p.m. the night before store opening in order to be first in line for the special give-aways and the wristbands needed for Green's concert. Two teens, Chelsea Linder and Lianna Shiffman arrived at the store around 6:30 a.m. on the day of the event. They were one of only five persons who “beat” the Microsoft phone system and won themselves a $1,000 Microsoft merchandise certificate.  Huge Cee Lo fans, the girls brought a glitter-embellished banner to the concert which the star acknowledged during his performance.

The theater room is stocked with Microsoft Store swag for customers at the grand opening of the Microsoft Store at Freehold Raceway in Freehold, New Jersey

Camille Cetta, on the other hand,  was at the concert via serendipity with her children. “We were going to go to the movies,” she told me, “but I saw the concert setting up and we decided this was way better.” The kids concurred; gotta say it was fun to see youngsters bopping to the beat of Cee Lo Green’s tunes.

Cee Lo Green gets the crowd swinging with his Gnarles Barkley "Crazy"

Promoting his fantastic “The Lady Killer” CD- now in platinum edition- and a new (and stellar) dance cut “Anyway," Green took time from his busy tour schedule to help Microsoft celebrate.  He got an enthusiastic crowd swaying and singing his lyrics back to him- and what a slice of welcome sunshine!

Cee Lo Green slides into "No One's Gonna Love You" before tossing his tie into the audience

The consummate entertainer, Green commanded the stage in shorts, dazzling white shirt, and white hat, belting out his well-loved songs with arms outstretched, head back, and characteristic wide-mouth smile flashing all the while. Screens on both sides of the stage gave easy viewing to his lovely background singers and crew of accomplished musicians, and these images were stunning to watch with the Los Angeles-like fair weather sunset behind them.

Cee Lo Green delights with his surprise encore number

Green played the crowd of admirers, actually challenging them to "sing, dance, and just have fun." He shared some old favorites, including his mega-hit collaboration with Danger Mouse (as Gnarls Barkley), "Crazy."  and several new hits from his "The Lady Killer" CD, "Bright Lights Bigger City," Fool for You,” "It's OK," "No One's Gonna Love You," and his swoony “Wildflower.”  Much to the surprise- and thrill- of attendees, he gifted the appreciative crowd with a single encore.

Phillip Pollicove of Eatontown participates in the evening's karaoke competition

Lupe Fiasco provided warm-up for the event, and an emcee coaxed concert goers in between acts to try their luck for great Microsoft product prizes in both a karaoke and dance competition. Phillip Pollicove of Eatontown was one of the brave singers and, although he lost to what some thought was a less-than-worthy opponent, he still enjoyed the experienc, taking home a nice gift, anyway.

Hundreds more visited the new Microsoft Store location the following day and got the chance to play Kinect for Xbox 360 with New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.

The Freehold Microsoft Store opening comes on the heels of the May Microsoft Store opening in Bridgewater.  A store spokesperson shared that the local community had been wonderful to work with as they opened up this location, and the grand opening continued that positive reception by Freehold. 

A smash hit for all concerned, this opening won’t soon be forgotten- high technology, prizes, and Cee-Lo Green outside on a beautiful late spring night in Jersey. What could be better?  Those folks at Microsoft really know how to have fun.

And, as if that weren't enough, in honor of this grand opening, Microsoft Store is donating one million dollars' worth of software to the local chapter of Junior Achievement

Cee Lo Green belts it out to packed crowd at Freehold Raceway Mall, Saturday, June 9, 2012

Freehold Raceway Mall is located at 3710 Route 9, Freehold, New Jersey 07728.

Mall office number is: 732/577-1300.

Be sure to also check out Microsoft’s online store at http://www.microsoftstore.com.

Text and Cee Lo Green concert photos Ó 2012 M. D. Caprario - All Rights Reserved

Photos of Microsoft Store used with permission of Microsoft publicity director - copyrighted

Vegas in Jersey - Cee Lo Green's signature graphic against a perfect night's sunset



M. D. Caprario is a journalist, author and editor currently working on both US coasts covering books, film, music and people and things which serve the Greater Good.  Reach her at: [email protected]



Published on Jun 10, 2012

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