Santiago, Aug 10 (EFE).- Thousands of people gathered outside a shopping mall in an upscale neighborhood of the Chilean capital for Wednesday morning’s opening of Swedish furniture giant Ikea’s first store in South America.
After a ribbon-cutting ceremony, customers made their way in two lines (for registered and non-registered shoppers) past colorful balloons, the Chilean and Swedish flags and dozens of people dressed in Ikea’s blue and yellow brand colors.
Waiting at the end of the lines that winded around the enormous warehouse were a music band and Ikea employees tasked with informing customers about the store’s offerings and giving out yellow bags with gifts.
“I found out about Ikea when I traveled to Germany and was fascinated,” Ainoa, a young pregnant woman who arrived at that store on Santiago’s north side to purchase items for her home and her baby, told Efe.
Eduardo, for his part, said he had been to Ikea stores in other countries and wanted to know what the Chilean one was like, adding that the three-hour wait to get inside did not bother him and that the grand opening was a “nice experience.”
“The truth is they brought everything. I saw (the store) quickly, but I think they brought the whole line of products they have in other countries. That really surprised me,” he said.
The store’s selling space covers an area of more than 15,300 square meters (164,470 square feet) and, like in other countries, includes a play area for young children, a restaurant serving typical Swedish food and a Nordic food market.
A second store to be opened in 2023 in Cerrillos, a municipality that is part of the Santiago metropolitan area, will cover an area of 25,000 sq. meters.
Wednesday’s inauguration marks an important milestone for the company and the first step in a regional expansion that will include store openings in the near future in Colombia and Peru, according to the promoters of the Ikea project in Chile.
With the goal of incorporating aspects of the local culture in the store’s design, nine Hispanic artists and designers – among them four Chileans – were brought on board.
Local designers also are to be enlisted for the stores in Colombia and Peru to ensure a mixture of Swedish and country-specific styles.
The store opening in Santiago had been highly anticipated since October 2021, when the first shipments of products to supply the Ikea store departed for Chile from a distribution center in Barcelona, Spain. EFE