Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

All This Furniture and Pickled Herring, Too

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

All This Furniture and Pickled Herring, Too

Article excerpt

Byline: Laura Capitano

ORLANDO - Happy Black Friday, y'all!

In the spirit of shopping season, I took the company Dodge down to Orlando's new IKEA store (near the Mall at Millenia) on Saturday. The furniture retailer has such a cult following that shoppers lined up 48 hours prior to the Nov. 14 opening to be among the first to load up on the new store's Swedish furnishings and accessories.

The line-up for the two-story 309,000-square-foot store (five football fields of space) would have started earlier if left up to customers, but Gabriella Eitingon, public relations manager for IKEA Orlando, says the chain learned to set limits on when gathering can kick off. On Saturday, between 400 and 500 people were waiting when the store opened, posing for photos like they were at some new Swedish attraction at Epcot.

It's hard to pinpoint what drives IKEA's following. Sure the merchandise has the right combination of form, function and affordability, plus there's more than 10,000 exclusively designed products to browse. After touring IKEA Saturday with Eitingon and store manager Michael la Cour, I decided the 64-year-old company's good karma also helps its success. IKEA is a socially and environmentally conscientious organization. Co-workers, to use the store's lingo, only need a 20-hour work week to qualify for health insurance, 95 percent of the store's waste is recycled and solar power heats the restaurant's water, la Cour said.

Once through the doors, co-workers give you a blank shopping list and pencil and direct you up the escalator to the showroom. Parents can drop off the kiddies at the free and supervised Smaland play area.

In the showroom, you make your way through "inspirational" living rooms, offices, kitchens and dining areas, bedrooms and the children's department. The walk-through is interactive; you're free to test out all of the items, from futons to faucets. …

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