The long-anticipated blue and yellow building was supposed to open in July of this year, but to the delight of many, they were able to open ahead of schedule in May. A large crowd assembled in front of the store, some camping out since Monday to be one of the first 100 people to receive a free Poang arm chair. Jessica McCormick and Alexa White had been there since 4am, just to enjoy the experience of waiting in line. However, Jessica said, “I didn’t expect stilt walkers and a juggler.” Their friend, Katie, had been talking about the IKEA opening since it was first announced last summer.
The opening ceremony included speeches from IKEA store manager Monica Varela and Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, who praised the store as an all-around good idea, as it created 400 jobs, will strengthen the economy of the area “and serves Swedish meatballs.” There was a flag-raising ceremony with Council Chairman Thomas Scott raising the American flag, Honorary Swedish Consul B.G. Holmberg raising the Swedish flag as well as Special Assistant to the Governor, Michelle Todd raising the Floridian flag. To finish off the ceremony, Mayor Iorio and Varela sawed a log, which is a Swedish custom to bring good luck. At 9am, the store opened, and the excited customers stormed in.
Swedish furniture store IKEA was founded in 1943, and has since spawned a huge cult following. The store has 297 stores worldwide, including 37 in the United States and offers “affordable home solutions.” The store in notorious for its inexpensive, funky furniture which come in flat packs and require self-assembly. It is the world’s largest furniture manufacturer.
The Tampa IKEA is located at 1103 N. 22nd Street in Ybor, and the online catalogue is available at www.ikea.com