Hundreds of eager shoppers this morning– some sitting on fold-up lawn chairs or clutching to-go mugs of coffee– gathered outside the new IKEA store in Oak Creek, forming a line that wrapped around the entire west side of the 293,000-square-foot building as they awaited the highly anticipated grand opening of the Swedish retailer’s first Wisconsin store.
“We’ve been waiting here since 5 a.m.,” one customer near the front of the line said. “We got here at 4 a.m., but they wouldn’t let us into the parking lot until 5. The freeway and the roads were all backed up with traffic when we got here.”
Doors officially opened at 9 a.m., but some customers arrived as early as 5 a.m. when the parking lot opened to hold a spot near the front of the line. The first 1,000 people in line were given a free IKEA drawstring bag filled with other merchandise.
“It’s hard to believe that one year ago, we were breaking ground on this site,” store manager Samantha Gravina said, during a pre-opening ceremony.
The ceremony included remarks from Oak Creek Mayor Dan Bukiewicz; Monica Enqvist, the Swedish Embassy’s head of public diplomacy; and Anton van Dongen, IKEA U.S. senior vice president. To kick-off the opening, Gravina, Bukiewicz, Enqvist, and van Dongen participated in a traditional Swedish log-sawing ceremony that is said to bring good luck to the store.
“This store in Oak Creek is very special because it is our first store here in Wisconsin and I know, and I apologize, that it is 30 years too late,” van Dongen said. “Many of you have been driving to the Chicago area or have gone online to shop, but now you will no longer need to make that journey because you have your own IKEA store.”
IKEA in May of 2016 announced it would build the store on 29 acres of land owned by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., northwest of West Drexel Avenue and I-94. The project broke ground a year later in June.
A 225,000-square-foot array of 4,716 panels solar panels was installed on top of the building to produce electricity for the site. The store, which is the 48th IKEA location in the U.S., features 50 room displays, three model homes interiors, and 10,000 exclusively designed products. It also boasts a 300-seat restaurant and Swedish Food Market, and a play area for children.
IKEA Oak Creek, located at 7500 S. Ikea Way, is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and, on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.