IKEA opening draws a throng

About 200 people waited in the cold and fog outside the new Woodbridge IKEA Wednesday, hours before the 9 a.m. grand opening in order to be one of the first 100 customers in line to receive the store’s free gift of a leather Poang chair.

This is the first time the global chain has offered such a gift at its grand opening, said Donna Motley, a graphic artist at the store who was manning the early morning line. Poang chairs are normally offered at other store grand openings, but the leather upgrade was a first. The Scandinavian-type rocker sells for $249 retail.

It was enough to have the first person start the queue at 4 p.m. Tuesday, 17 hours before the opening and the give-away were to begin.

“I just heard about this through the grapevine and stopped by at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon and started the line,” said Stacy Harris, a Woodbridge resident who was bundled up in blankets early Wednesday morning. “It’s been kind of fun out here. We have all talked, played games, drank a lot of coffee. I don’t know if I would do it again, but it has been worth it this time.”

With Harris at the front, two white chains kept the line organized and IKEA staff worked through the night keeping the first 100 in line and in order.

Even before dawn, everyone in the line was laughing and playing cards and board games. IKEA had provided chairs, blankets and tea light candles for the first 100.

One woman drove four hours from North Carolina, earning herself the number two spot, behind Harris.

“I got a card in the mail announcing the give-away, and I thought, ‘Why not?'” said North Carolina resident Karen Sage. “We have had about an hour and a half of sleep, but oh well.”

Another group toward the beginning of the line came well prepared. Camping out in line is nothing new to them.

“We have camped out for everything from a PlayStation 2, to concert tickets, hockey tickets and more,” said Clinton Canyon, a former IKEA employee who lives only minutes from the new store.

Those who came prepared said the big crowd was not a surprise.

“Any time you have something that is for free you are going to get people you have never seen before, and people from all walks of life,” said John Adams, a Bowie, Md., resident.

At about the halfway point in the line were Iveelt Tosog and Zara Nyam, a young couple in their early 20s from Arlington who were lucky numbers 99 and 100.

“This is the first time we have ever done anything like this,” Tosog said. “There was supposed to be a whole group of us to go, but we were the only ones that showed up.”

Behind them was Bob Farabee, a Dale City resident who was number 101. He thought he had his chance at a ticket for a chair when one girl left the line, and Farabee said IKEA staff told him her ticket would be an extra, but she came back and was able to retrieve her place.

“All I wanted was a chair,” Farabee said. “I stayed here all night. I got here at about 10 o’clock last night. I thought I had my chance at a ticket, but they took it back.”

As the sun started to come out Wednesday morning, IKEA staff was getting ready to open the doors, but still turning people away who were hopeful it wasn’t yet too late to be one of the first 100.”

“My original plan was to come here and wait in line awhile before work,” said Lori Anderson, who drove in from D.C. “I just decided to come by, but they told me I was too late, so now I guess I will just go back to D.C.

“That’s OK, I really didn’t know how early people would get here, but there is no way I would have camped out.”

IKEA estimated that about 16,000 customers attended its Wednesday grand opening, said Tomas Franzen, store manager.

Staff writer Trina Goethals can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 121

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