DRAPER Call it the IKEA fever.
Jaime Condie was camping out Tuesday with her 2- and 5-year-old daughters to get them new bedroom furniture. Lisa Criswell, who calls herself an "IKEA virgin," showed up on Monday at 6 a.m. to be the first to see the store. And Chelsea Malcom wants that free chair.
Utahns have been lining up for days now to set foot inside the new IKEA store today in Draper, the first in Utah and 30th in the United States.
Dozens of people set up tents outside the popular Swedish home furnishings store Tuesday morning. That number is expected to increase to the hundreds by this morning, the day of the grand opening.
The campers want to be among the first 100 in line, because the store has promised that those people will receive a POANG chair, which retails for $79. Colette Condie already has plans for her chair when she brings it home.
"No one's sitting in that chair but me," she said, her 5-year-old boys Caden and Caleb playing with Play-Doh by her side. "I camped out for two days for that chair."
Malcom, 21, brought in her overnight gear early Tuesday for the Scandinavian-style furniture.
"I'm here for all I can get and to get acquainted with IKEA," she said. "To say you were one of the first 100 people to go into the new IKEA, I'll tell my grandkids that."
IKEA has been monitoring the crowd and having them sign an acknowledgment of rules that includes no cutting in or saving spots for people in line. The document also prohibits leaving the premises, except for 10-minute bathroom breaks, or people will forfeit their place in line.
Matt Juillerat, proudly the first person in line, was having his fiancee, Jessica, drive supplies to him. Juillerat, a California native, has much of his Murray home outfitted in IKEA gear and hopes to find a new bedroom set and kitchen appliances.
The big crowds are usual at a grand opening, said IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth. The store has planned for several hundred to several thousand customers today.
"We're very proud that everyone seems to recognize the significance of IKEA coming to Utah," he said, adding that several government officials will join in the pomp and circumstance at 9 a.m. today.
Draper has been preparing for nine months for this day and will reroute traffic for the first six days of the store's opening.
Through Memorial Day, customers will only have one way in and out of the store, from the I-15 Bangerter Highway exit to 200 West. Other freeway exits and surface streets will be off-limits for IKEA customers.
Draper will devote 38 police officers to the traffic enforcement, said Draper Police Sgt. Scott Peck.Comment on this story
City staff, including Peck, attended the grand opening in June 2006 of the IKEA in Canton, Mich., and witnessed the traffic jams there. They also took note of the store opening in Tempe, Ariz. During that 2004 opening, traffic jams on the highway caused off-ramp closures, and dozens of people parked their vehicles on the freeway and jumped the fence to get to the store.IKEA-goers in Draper will not be allowed to exit off 12300 South to get to the megastore. Residents and employees have city-approved dashboard signs to let them through. People visiting those neighborhoods and businesses will be allowed through without a sign, said Draper spokeswoman Maridene Hancock.