The grand opening of IKEA's first Colorado location persuaded thousands to form a line stretching around the side of the 13.5 acre store all the way through half of its parking garage. IKEA's new Centennial location is the second largest in the country, and the Arapahoe County sheriff was expecting the event to draw more than 45,000 today, according to a report from the Aurora Sentinel. That's approximately the same amount of people who were estimated to have attended the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver during its first three days.
Governor John Hickenlooper was there and Centennial's entire city council was there, along with IKEA U.S. President Mike Ward and at least seven of Colorado's news outlets. More than 100 people started camping outside the store on Monday, according to the Denver Post, hoping to receive IKEA's free goodies that included a white couch for the first 38 people in line (since Centennial is the store's 38th U.S. location).
“This day is a defining point for Centennial. It allows us to create a certain momentum, and hopefully this will spread to other retail businesses and get people positive and focused and moving forward," Gov. Hickenlooper said in his speech.
A woman shaking hands with Gov. Hickenlooper just minutes before going inside said that she and her two young children had been camping out since Sunday night.
Inside, people were greeted with IKEA employees lined up alongside the escalator clapping boisterousThundersticks, giant bright yellow IKEA shopper bags, and samples of Swedish food. And despite the initial crowd frenzy and mob-like appearance, most people were respectful and patiently went inside.
All photos by Veronica Rael.