Oh, IKEA, you truly are a marvel, with your large blue and yellow exterior, huge ass sign overlooking I-25 that could do battle against Godzilla -- and win! -- and your Swedish land of golden furniture opportunities inside. It's no wonder there were so many people camped out in front of your store front beginning on Monday morning (the first person in the line, Sally Overs, arrived on Saturday, believe it or not).
We got trapped in the new and only IKEA in Colorado, IKEA Centennial, twice in the past ten hours. The first time was with approximately 200 other people who were also camping out for the opening. The second -- well, we'll get to that a little later.
The campout itself was a low. It was a non-event. For being so hyped and yet so unnecessary -- after all, it's just a furniture store from the land of Abba -- the campout itself was considerably boring. And this is coming from someone whose hair was dyed blue and who was wearing yellow shorts, too.
There weren't any group activities at 2 a.m. going on in the not-as-crazy camping area, home to those dedicated enough only to show up twelve hours in advance of the opening, not 36 or more, and who would only receive a random prize in the form of a gift card (the most common were $10 denominations). Oddly, however, at around 3 a.m., there was a mass panic about twenty tents up from ours. Apparently, two people were getting it on -- and loudly -- in the IKEA parking lot. Talk about an unexpected christening. Swedish tradition? Most certainly not. But it was absolutely hilarious to see the security guards' panic-stricken faces as they tried to figure out how to manage the situation and the, umm, Swedish squeals.
An hour later and there was another point of interest: the changing of the port-a-potty sewage. It wasn't quite as scandalous, but when you don't have anything else to do but play forty rounds of card games or loftily compare yourself to the other people there camping, it's a way to pass the time.
We wouldn't consider it an entirely disappointing night -- gotta thank those IKEA gods for their sense of humor with the tent noises, which, as was later revealed, came from two randy teenagers lacking adult supervision -- but it wasn't exactly the Abba-rific night we had planned for. And then the sun started to come up. With it rose the anticipation, the excitement and the IKEA fans who thought they could win a couch if they got there four hours in advance of the opening. Yeah right! As more and more people began to weave their way through the roped queue, the IKEA staff began to condense the line and encourage the frustration. This meant that campers had to put away their tents, their laptops and their boobs -- yes, one woman was breastfeeding her two-month-old. But once the line was rid of excess baggage, the real fun could start. All 400 IKEA employees began to pour out near the store front, facing the highway, at 7 a.m. They were giving away everything from IKEA frisbees to "I drool for Swedish meatballs" bibs. The crowd found it a worthy treat for a night of little sleep.
Fast-forward an hour and so began the opening ceremonies. Some pretty standard speeches by some people that you'd expect would speak at the IKEA opening -- the national president of IKEA, Mike Ward; the mayor of Centennial, Cathy Noon; even John Hickenlooper. Throw in a traditional Swedish log-sawing ceremony and a flag-raising and call it a party.
At 8:55 a.m. IKEA began letting people in its doors. First, the dedicated campers who arrived on Saturday. Then the rest of us. Even after greeting people for a good twenty minutes, the IKEA employees still wore their smiles, just as bright as their yellow staff shirts, and made us feel right at home. And we were - especially in the 590 square foot model home area that made you gasp with wonder as to how they made such a small space seem so roomy.
Then we got lost. In IKEA. It was as if IKEA didn't want us to leave without buying something.
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After a good seventeen minutes dodging rabid customers, yellow IKEA shopping bags and the occasional swivel chair, we made it out alive. Getting out of the parking lot, however, was a different story. If you're planning to go to IKEA in the next few days, watch out for all of the popo on the surrounding streets -- their radars are hot and they're looking to give you a speeding ticket as you zoom towards the Swedish paradise.
As for us, a little dazed from the lack of sleep and lack of food, we have to go back. Must buy that amazingly ergonomic chair and get our hands on some Swedish meatballs.