Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A peek inside IKEA

Workers put final touches on megastore

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Are you getting IKEA-cited?

With less than a week until the Swedish furniture giant christens its much-anticipated Winnipeg store, hundreds of workers are putting the final touches on the 400,000-square-foot location at the corner of Kenaston Boulevard and Sterling Lyon Parkway.

Pillows are being fluffed in the 55 showrooms, stuffed animals are being placed on the shelves and the cooks in the 651-seat restaurant are serving meatballs by the thousands to all the workers.

In case there's any confusion what needs to be done, to-do lists have been taped to the walls on a number of the store's showrooms.

"There has been this crazy excitement in the store since the first blue panel went up on the sides months ago. That's really magnified now," said Maegan Sheskey, Winnipeg-based spokeswoman for IKEA.

"I think people can see the light. We're so excited to open the doors."

The first customers will pour into the store Wednesday morning at 9 a.m.

Dignitaries such as Mayor Sam Katz and Premier Greg Selinger will be on hand for the opening ceremonies, which will start at 8:20 a.m.

The first 1,000 customers in line -- they can start the queue at one minute after midnight -- will receive a flat-packed box containing a $75 gift card and an allen key.

The holders of five golden allen keys will have a chance to win a $5,000 gift card.

IKEA is no stranger to overzealous customers, so it will have heaters on hand to keep them warm in line and porta-potties should nature call.

Just how many people will arrive in the middle of the night is a question mark, but considering Winnipeggers' historic enthusiasm for new retailers, they will certainly number in the hundreds, if not thousands.

Sheskey said IKEA's 400 co-workers are prepared.

"I'd be lying if I said we didn't want to be busy. We're ready for it. We have the largest warehouse in Canada. Leading up to Christmas, if you want a particular gift or you want to put in a new kitchen for entertaining before the holidays, we'll have it in stock," she said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Photos by Joe Bryksa / Winnipeg Free Press

The Free Press got a sneak peek inside the new IKEA store in Winnipeg Wednesday. The 390,000-square-foot store will have the grand opening to the public on Wednesday, Nov. 28.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 22, 2012 B7

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