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Wednesday, June 27, 2007, 10:00 am PT (01:00 pm ET)

Apple retail stores to host nationwide employee sleepover

With iPhone line waiters and campers expected to congregate outside Apple Inc.'s retail stores on Thursday evening, the company has no plans to leave the outlets unattended, AppleInsider has learned.

People familiar with the matter say the Cupertino-based firm's retail division has called for the first ever Apple retail sleepover, in which staffers — where store locations permit — will spend Thursday evening nestled somewhere between the Genius Bars and stock rooms.

At most average size stores, the slumber party will reportedly consist of just two employees — a store manager and one other staffer willing to bank some extra hours while snoozing.

As of publication time, retail management had not conveyed to the employees why they were being asked to spend the night inside the stores, though some speculated it's a security measure due to expectations of enhanced activity outside the locations during the early morning hours.

Come Friday morning, all Apple retail stores will open around 10:00 a.m. local time for a 4-hour stint. They'll then shutter for the same amount of time while prepping for the iPhone premiere, reopening at 6:00 p.m. local time with the gadgets for sale.

"We’ll open the doors again at 6:00 p.m., when you can be one of the first to see, try, and buy the iPhone," Apple said in a message posted on its retail website. "Be sure to arrive early — iPhone is available on a first-come, first-served basis."

Apple also announced that it will open two new retail stores just in time for the iPhone's launch on Friday. The new stores will be located in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Glendale, Wisconsin.