Monday, August 01, 2011

Consumer Campouts

Photo: Paul Merrill
Wednesday was opening day. Yes, Colorado got its first Ikea. It seem that fans of the Swedish furniture store are legion. Thousands lined up to be among the first inside. There were certainly some perks not available to those (like me) who were content to peruse pretty pictures in a glossy catalog...

It was like Christmas in July. The Colorado store is Ikea's 38th outlet in the U.S.; to celebrate, the company pledged to give each of the first 38 customers in line on Wednesday a free sofa. The next 100, a free armchair. Earliest birds on Thursday got a queen-sized mattress. Other eager beavers got gift cards, food vouchers, and the opportunity to be first to ooh and aah over the impressive displays of fine European design.

By Monday afternoon, more than 100 people were camping out in order to save their places in line.

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That night the roommate discussed the phenomenon of consumer camp-outs with friends in her book club. "How much would they have to PAY you to camp out for 48 hours like that?!" While some of them - like Deb - had done things like that in their youth, nowadays the discomfort and inconvenience of it leaves the adventure in the shade. "A quarter of a million dollars" was the figure they settled on.

Really? I was amazed. Nobody paid the people who camped out at Ikea, did they? Certainly not thousands of dollars. People who camp out for concert tickets, film debuts, and holiday sales are there for the privilege of SPENDING money - though maybe less than they would if they didn't camp out. They aren't being paid. 

Readers, would you have to be paid? How much? Would a thousand dollars do it? Less? More? What retail opportunity or incentive would it take for you to spread out your sleeping bag on the sidewalk for a day or two?

P.S.: While this Ikea may be crowded for the next couple of weeks and weekends, the store is prepared. Lines to get in had died down by 11 am on opening day.


Megan Noel said...

well a key factor here is the availability of toilet facilities.

Marti said...

Well, it is right in the middle of suburbia. I'm sure there are options not too far away.

I haven't been to check it out yet, still trying to get rid of things, not acquire. And I was in the one in Portland not so long ago. It is a pretty snazzy company.

Paul Merrill said...

Megan, they did have porta-potties available.

We enjoyed being there on day one. But there is no way I'd camp out for 2 or three days just to get a free sofa. A free iPad? Maybe. *Maybe.*