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After nearly a year since breaking ground, Ikea Columbus opened its doors this morning for the store’s grand opening.
A crowd of roughly 600 people started funneling into the 44th U.S. store at 9 a.m. after Ikea’s ceremonial log sawing event, a tradition that is supposed to bring good luck.
“This isn’t just a great win for Ohio, but a great win for this community,” said Westerville Mayor Kathy Cokuzzi in a pre-opening speech.
The sun had barely peeked and people were already anxiously awaiting to shop in Ikea for the store’s grand opening.
People of all kinds - women, men, families, babies, old, young - stood or sat in their own chairs on the outside parking lot early Wednesday morning, either to win free merchandise or to be the first people to step in the new building.
“I am a very extroverted person that feeds off the energy (of new store openings),” said Stephanie Herriott, a Columbus resident. “I took the day off work. I like to be the one who experiences these kinds of things firsthand.”
As more people huddled in, performers walked around and entertained the crowd. Some of these entertainers include a stilt walker, a juggler, the OSU Sup A Fun band and Buck I Guy.
Ikea employees also walked around passing out free gift bags, food samples and t-shirts transcribed with “I heart IKEA”.
Prior to the opening, Delaware County EMS raised the U.S. flag and a Swedish official raised the Swedish flag. Cokuzzi represented the state in the raising of the Ohio flag.
Store manager Davyd Garcia also welcomed Beth Fetzer-Rice, Executive Director of The Homeless Families Foundation, on stage to accept a check of $10,000 donation.
The first 144 people, winners of free couches and chairs, were at the front of the stage. Some have been waiting outside the store since Monday.
Jacob Poldruni and Dana Tomasello, an engaged couple from Cleveland, camped out at Ikea since 9:30 p.m. last night in order to score some free furniture.
“We have never been to Ikea, but we have heard that’s it’s very different from most furniture stores in the way they do things,” Tomasello said. “I am excited for the deals because it is well-known that this store is cheap.”
Larissa Shope, a Columbus resident who had been waiting outside the store since 4:30 a.m., is excited most for the gift card giveaways.
“I want a $1,000 gift card,” she said. “There is a lot of excitement that comes with a new store.”