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Ikea making Tampa crazy

I see ya. Sitting over there, outside Ikea.

Camped out on the hot, hard concrete. There were 20 of you poor souls by 9 a.m. Monday.

Waiting. Dreaming. Drooling.

For what?

In a case of too much time on their hands, these true believers want to be the first people inside when Tampa's Ikea opens its doors Wednesday.

A few in line Monday came from Orlando where — I'm not kidding — they have an Ikea.

Oddly, those 20 diehards are the sane ones. Those happy campers will get one of 100 lounge chairs being given to the first people inside.

I can't say the same for the rest of the zanies around the bay. You've seen them. They are the ones breathing into brown paper bags to avoid hyperventilating over the arrival of the Swedish furniture giant.

Color me blue and yellow, but I don't understand the religious devotion people have to this mecca of Swedish swag. One camper Monday talked about a "cult following." He said waiting two days to get inside was "an experience you really don't get anywhere else."

I'll pass.

There are myriad blogs devoted to Ikea worship, and a few that dis the store. Search Ikea on Google and you'll get 26.5 million hits.

I've never been in an Ikea, so I checked out the Web site. The products look cool. And you have to like a store that has portable toilets for its earlier-arriving apostles.

But what I can't fathom is this maniacal behavior by people who have never laid eyes on one of the blue and yellow, big-box shops.

Huge crowds are expected Wednesday. Even with 3,000 parking spaces near the store, there is a free shuttle from the Centro Ybor parking garage Wednesday. And Thursday. And Friday. And Saturday and Sunday. And each weekend until Memorial Day.

In the last week, the St. Petersburg Times and its Web site have had no fewer than 11 stories on Ikea's opening (this is No. 12), including a survival manual on how to navigate the store without getting lost.

One column likened Ikea's arrival to Tampa hosting a Super Bowl.

Really?

Tampa Bay has officially gone ga-ga.

When was the last time a business opening in this area garnered this kind of hype? The Tampa Bay Rays?

The Ikea sensation reminds me of the late 1970s, when Coors beer was virtually impossible to get east of the Mississippi. Anyone who could lay his hands on a couple of six packs was king. We were drawn to the ice cold brew, warmed by the idea that only we were chugging this nectar of the gods while our friends had to swill Schlitz and Schaefer.

Or Rheingold.

Then we realized: It's just another beer — Genesee in a gold can. The bloom was off the rose.

Will that happen with Ikea?

Who knows.

I admit I'm intrigued by this American Idol of furniture stores.

So, like many of you, I'll check it out.

I'll just wait until the zanies clear out.

Kyle Kreiger rants about the serious and silly with one question in mind: Why? Contact him at kreiger@sptimes.com.

Ikea making Tampa crazy 05/05/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 6, 2009 10:01am]

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