JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The first customers inside IKEA's new Jacksonville store near the St. Johns Town Center were greeted Wednesday morning with raucous fanfare and cheers from the store's employees.
The store, which is the first in North Florida, opened at 9 a.m.
Campers had lined up outside the store on the eve of the grand opening, which promised giveaways and prizes to the first patrons through the doors. By noon Wednesday, 2,500 gift cards had been distributed.
Customers were allowed to start lining up Monday morning and people were lined up around the building by dawn Wednesday, with a live band playing, games and other diversions entertaining the crowd.
Those who have never been inside an IKEA might be surprised to find a 250-seat cafe inside, which serves the store's iconic Swedish meatballs, along with other items, such as salmon and chicken fingers.
The cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Store manager Leontyne Sykes said being able to sit down and eat at the store is important.
“Shopping at IKEA is supposed to be a fun experience. It’s a great day out,” Sykes said. “And what do most of us do when we’re out having fun? We also want to take time to eat.”
The store's normal hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., but the cafe opens at 9:30 a.m.
PHOTOS: Crowds ready for IKEA's opening day
A lot of first-time IKEA shoppers Wednesday said they were impressed with the store's layout.
“You can actually look in the rooms and see the items set up and kind of get a feel of how big it is,” shopper Julie Smart said.
Grand opening giveaways continue
Grand opening events Wednesday through Sunday include giveaways ranging from a three-seat sofa for the first 46 adults in the store to gift cards worth as much as $250.
IKEA has 950 parking spaces, with 1,000 more off-site, and it's ready for the grand opening influx.
The store's groundbreaking took place this time last year.
Giveaways throughout the grand opening weekend include:
- Rest Assured* - The first 46 adults (18 & older) in IKEA Jacksonville will receive a free EKTORP three-seat sofa, honoring the 46th U.S. store.
- Take a Seat (And We Mean Take It!)* –The next 100 adults (18 & older) will receive a free POÄNG armchair.
- For the (Truly) Young at Heart – The first 100 children (17 & younger) in IKEA Jacksonville will receive a free FAMNIG heart-shaped soft toy.
- Pick a Card, Any Card – The first 2,500 adults (18 & older) in IKEA Jacksonville will receive a random prize envelope with IKEA Gift Cards ranging from $10 to $250, or a “Buy One, Get One Free” cinnamon bun, hotdog or soft-serve frozen yogurt voucher.
- Happy Birthday to You and Us – The first 100 adults (18 & older) bringing proof to IKEA Jacksonville that their birthday is the same as the store’s will receive a gift card for $46, a tie-in corresponding to IKEA Jacksonville as the 46th U.S. IKEA store. Offer valid only on Nov. 8.
- Sleep Like Royalty* – The first 46 adults (18 & older) in IKEA Jacksonville will receive a free queen-sized HAUGESUND mattress.
- Cozy Comfort* – The next 100 adults (18 & older) in IKEA Jacksonville will receive a free ALINA “sleep set” that includes bedspread and cushion covers.
- Kids’ Best Friend – The first 100 children (17 & younger) in IKEA Jacksonville will receive a free GOSIG golden dog soft toy.
- Cook Like a Pro* – The first 46 adults (18 & older) in IKEA Jacksonville will receive a free 4- piece SENSUELL cookware set.
- Meatballs for a Year* – The next 100 adults (18 & older) in IKEA Jacksonville will receive a voucher for 12 monthly meatball meals for two at IKEA Jacksonville’s Restaurant through next year, expiring on November 30, 2018.
- A Cold Sweet-ish Treat – The first 100 children (17 & under) in IKEA Jacksonville will receive a voucher for a soft-serve frozen yogurt available that day at IKEA Jacksonville’s Exit Bistro.
- A Meal on Us- As a thank you for your service, veterans can enjoy a complimentary entree in the IKEA Restaurant by showing a form of military ID (active/reserve/retired).
- Play Big If You’re Little – Balloon artists, entertainment and face-painting will enhance the family-friendly fun at IKEA Jacksonville from Nov. 8 through Nov. 12.
- Enter Our Home, Enter to Win – From Nov. 8 through Nov. 12, visitors to IKEA Jacksonville may enter for a chance to win one of 20 $250 IKEA Gift Cards through the IKEA FAMILY loyalty program.
*One per household
In addition, IKEA U.S. officials announced that as part of the grand opening celebration, IKEA is offering a one-day deal on two iconic products -- the BILLY bookcase and IKEA Meatballs -- for customers in IKEA locations across the country.
On Wednesday select BILLY bookcases will be sold in-store and online for $49* and customers will be able to purchase three bags of IKEA meatballs for $19.99.
Customers should visit IKEA-USA.com for more details.