Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Columnist gets sneak peek at Tampa's Ikea before Wednesday's grand opening

I'm driving across a dusty stretch of urban industrial dreariness when suddenly it looms before me: the massive blue-and-yellow box of a building, the new Swedish retail mecca for affordable furniture and much, much more.

Or so I am told, when the diehards speak reverently of Ikea.

Tucked between Ybor City and the ugly gray overpasses of the Crosstown Expressway, Ikea is here at last. I've come for a sneak peek before the official grand opening here on Wednesday to figure what the fuss is about, why cults of Ikea-ites will travel miles and even camp overnight, why Ikea's creator is one of the richest people on the planet.

While I have earned my chops as a steely-eyed bargain seeker and well-heeled shopper, truth is I have not seen the inside of an Ikea. For all the big-time stores we've gained — Nordy's, Saks, Neiman Marcus (or Needless Markup, as the wags like to say), Ikea only just arrived.

And to great fanfare. To some, this is akin to a city getting a Super Bowl.

I am greeted by yellow-shirted employees (sorry, "co-workers") and signs hailing me a hearty "valkommen," or welcome.

The inside is clean, funky and bright, Swedish down to the meatballs in the cafeteria. Kid friendly? There is a supervised /a> while you shop.

As we tour endless aisles of sleek sofas, chairs and easy-to-assemble shelves, our guide mentions that if I have to leave early, someone can walk me out so I don't get lost.

Lost? Me? Frequenter of malls in a dozen cities, wanderer of winding foreign flea markets, veteran haggler of New York street vendors, habitue of garage sales, a pittance paid for a Lenox vase as proof? Me, able to find deals even in predawn darkness the day after Thanksgiving?

Thanks, I say, I'm good.

Finally I did have to leave, and wandering on my own, saw lots more than furniture: kid stuff (a sweet stuffed mouse, or mus, which my nephew would love), lamp shades, linens, organizers, art, rugs, garden pots, baskets. (Yes, I am aware of a certain segment of our society that is utterly baffled about the need for baskets in a household. And, yes, I am sad for them.)

A good half-dozen employees — sorry, "co-workers" — offer directions when I get, all right, hopelessly lost.

It's a really big store, okay?

So maybe when it comes to the arrival of Ikea in our midst, we fit into categories: The already-devoted and soon-to-be-hopelessly-won-over; the only mildly interested but glad anyway for the jobs and the buzz and the fact that a store is opening and not closing; and, finally, the avowed could-not-care-less-and-what-is-wrong-with-you-people crowd.

Sort of how we react to getting a new professional sports team around here.

But trust me — come Wednesday, all sorts of folks, including respected professionals with great and somber responsibilities, will be holding up Ikea items and pronouncing them "cute."

Two days before the big opening, the faithful are expected to begin setting up by the sprawling, fresh-topped parking lot, to camp out and wait for bargains and sweet Swedish fish, for a chance, given our current financial, pandemic and other assorted panics, to shop.

To escape.

That I get. Driving away, I think: Ikea, you had me at valkommen.

Columnist gets sneak peek at Tampa's Ikea before Wednesday's grand opening 04/30/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 1, 2009 7:13am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dirk Koetter says Bucs used team meeting to discuss social issues

    Bucs

    Four days before their preseason home opener against the Cleveland Browns, which had 12 players not stand for the national anthem prior to their last game, the Bucs used their team meeting to discuss social issues that might have led to that demonstration, coach Dirk Koetter said.

    "The main thing is we have to respect everybody's opinion," Dirk Koetter said, "because everybody is not going to agree." [AP photo]
  2. Rookie tight end Antony Auclair making case to stick with Bucs

    Bucs

    Don't let his modest preseason stats fool you: Antony Auclair, the undrafted rookie tight end from Canada is making a strong case to stick around on the Bucs' 53-man roster this season.

    Bucs tight end Antony Auclair (82) collides with a defender following a catch during training camp. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  3. Who is that 'Blacks for Trump' guy standing behind the president at his Phoenix rally

    National

    At a number of political rallies over the last two years, a character calling himself "Michael the Black Man" has appeared in the crowd directly behind Donald Trump, impossible to miss and possibly planted.

    Michael the Black Man, variously known as Michael Symonette, Maurice Woodside and Mikael Israel, holds up a sign as President Donald Trump speaks to a crowd at the Phoenix Convention Center during a rally on Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona.  [Ralph Freso | Getty Images]
  4. Off-duty Manatee County deputy saves couple from burning car

    Public Safety

    MANATEE COUNTY — Neil and Claudia Cook are lucky to be alive after an off-duty deputy spotted them trapped in their smoking car and rescued them just before it became engulfed in flames on …

    Neil and Claudia Cook were trapped in their smoking car on Sunday when an off-duty deputy kicked out the window, rescuing them just before the car became engulfed in flames. [Courtesy of Manatee County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Hillary Clinton said her 'skin crawled' when Donald Trump stood behind her on debate stage

    National

    In her most detailed public comments about what happened during the second presidential debate, Hillary Clinton said her "skin crawled" as Donald Trump loomed behind her on the stage in St. Louis last October.

    Hillary Clinton speaks as Donald Trump listens during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis on Oct. 9, 2016. In her upcoming book, Clinton says "It was incredibly uncomfortable. He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled." [Pool photo by Rick T. Wilking via AP]