Make us your home page

Tampa Ikea finally opens, with fanfare and fatigue

TAMPA — If insanity isn't your thing, you probably weren't among the several hundred people who waited hours or days for a first look at the much-hyped Ikea store that opened here Wednesday.

Here's what you missed, or didn't miss, depending on your liking:

Men danced on stilts. Grown women wore hats made of balloons.

Even Mayor Pam Iorio came, dressed in Swedish yellow and blue.

"I want to welcome the Swedish invasion to Tampa!" she cheered, applauding the economic boost that 400-plus new jobs will bring to the city.

By the time the doors finally parted at 9 a.m., the line wrapped around the sprawling, two-story furniture superstore, Florida's third and largest Ikea.

Was the wait worth it? Depends on whom you ask and how long they waited.

Some people camped out for more than 50 hours for a $90 chair giveaway. Others spent the night hoping for a $250 gift card but ended up with only a free hotdog.

"We'd do it again," said Chanda Musial of Homosassa, who spent the night before the opening outside the store with her mom, husband, 4-year-old son and 14-month-old twin daughters. They all won free hot dogs.

Ben Dziubek, 20, who was second in line, scored a free chair but was far less impressed.

"Not worth it. So not worth it," he said. "We got here Monday excited. Now the day comes, and we're exhausted."

Deafening noise greeted early arrivals. For 45 minutes, employees chanted and clapped hundreds of inflated "thundersticks" as customers glided up an escalator. It sounded like Tropicana Field during the playoffs, only louder. One man plugged his ears.

Some shoppers went straight to the maze of more than 10,000 displayed items. Armed with maps and tape measures, they considered products with names like Ektorp, Expedit and Effektiv and Mala, Mammut and Mikael.

Others feasted on $4.99 plates of Swedish meatballs and lingonberries despite the breakfast hour.

"They're very good," said Lissette Torres, a 24-year-old from Tampa who had camped out since Monday night.

Officials hailed the day a success. Traffic stayed heavy around the store, but it didn't cause any major highway backups. Not everyone parked in the right place, but Tampa police went easy on ticketing, said company spokesman Joseph Roth.

"We certainly made the right decision, that's for sure," Roth said of building in Tampa.

The only empty spot in the whole place on day one? The supervised children's play area, closed indefinitely as a precaution taken by Ikea stores nationwide against the swine flu.

Times staff writer Drew Harwell contributed to this report. Colleen Jenkins can be reached at or (813) 226-3337.

Deal Diva tips

Want to shop Ikea? Here are some Deal Diva tips to take along.

1. Wear blinders: Ikea is a blessing and a curse for budget shoppers. You'll find plenty of deals, including the store's cheapest item, a 29-cent ceramic tumbler. But be wary of getting swept up in the euphoria of newness and bounty. You'll end up thinking you need and want things you never knew you needed or wanted before.

2. Make time: This is more of a shopping destination than a quick stop on an errand run. The average shopper spends two to three hours in Ikea. If you want to speed things up, grab a map and learn the shortcuts around the 353,000-square-foot store.

3. Wear comfy shoes: A single lap around the Tampa store is two-thirds of a mile. The place is big. Bigger than Home Depot big.

4. Stay open: Ikea's sample rooms provide tons of decorating ideas and organizing solutions. In addition to furniture, the store offers accessories, lamps, bedding and kitchen utensils.

5. Hire help: Not everyone is down with Ikea's self-assembly furniture. For a fee, the store offers home delivery and home assembly.

Tampa Ikea finally opens, with fanfare and fatigue 05/06/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 9, 2009 11:51am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa International Airport morphing into a mini-city unto itself


    TAMPA — By the end of the 2026, Joe Lopano wants Tampa International Airport to function as its own little city.

    Artist rendering of phase two of the $1 billion construction expansion of Tampa International Airport. The airport is transforming 17 acres of airport property that will include at least one hotel, retail and office space and a gas station, among other things.
[Courtesy of Tampa International Airport]
  2. Lost Highway: As FHP struggles to recruit, speeding tickets plummet

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The number of speeding tickets written by Florida state troopers has plunged three straight years as the agency grapples with a personnel shortage and high turnover.

    State data shows FHP troopers are not writing violations for speeding or other infractions like they did back in 2011, even though there's 1 million more licensed drivers in Florida.
  3. Kidpreneurs — and adults — capitalize on gooey, squishy Slime craze


    Aletheia Venator and Berlyn Perdomo demonstrate the stretchiness of their slime. - Berlyn Perdomo and her friend, Aletheia Venator, both 13, make and sell slime which can be seen on their instagram site @the.real.slimeshadyy [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  4. The last farmer of Florida's prized Zellwood corn is thinking of packing it in


    MOUNT DORA — Hank Scott steps out of his pickup between the long rows and snaps off an ear that grows about bellybutton-high on the forehead-high stalks.

    Hank Scott, co-owner of Long and Scott Farms, shucks an ear of corn on the farm in Mount Dora, Fla., on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. The farm specializes in Scott's Zellwood Triple-Sweet Gourmet Corn. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  5. Law firm's Russia ties prove nothing about Trump


    The statement

    "Law firm @POTUS used to show he has no ties to Russia was named Russia Law Firm of the Year for their extensive ties to Russia. Unreal."

    Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., stands during a media availability on Capitol Hill, Monday, June 20, 2016 in Washington. A divided Senate blocked rival election-year plans to curb guns on Monday, eight days after the horror of Orlando's mass shooting intensified pressure on lawmakers to act but knotted them in gridlock anyway — even over restricting firearms for terrorists. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)