Shoppers race to be ahead of the flatpack as Ikea opens its doors
TINA Bresbau had been waiting for this moment for 16 years.
Yesterday, along with her four-year-old daughter Emilia, the Swedish national stood in line and queued patiently with hundreds of shoppers as they counted down to the opening of Ireland's first Ikea store.
"I grew up with Ikea and I've waited all this time for it to come to Dublin," said Tina, who has been living here for 16 years.
She was joined by hundreds of "flatpack" enthusiasts who were already waiting in the carpark outside the Ballymun store long before the official 11am opening time yesterday.
Tiny blue and yellow Swedish national flags fluttered everywhere as the crowd was entertained with ABBA songs, jugglers on stilts, magicians and customers in fancy dress.
"We're mad," shouted a group of young Ballymun women, who camped out overnight in the shop's carpark to be among the first to walk through the doors.
Demi Boylan, and her cousin Tammy, Leane Kavanagh, Christine Byrne, Stacey Harcourt and Carmel Emerson began queuing at 4.30pm on Sunday and cooked sausages to fortify themselves as they waited for yesterday's grand opening.
It paid off, as the store announced it was giving them €600 worth of vouchers to spend between them.
An hour after the store opened, Stacey was passing through the checkout with a basket. "I'm going home for a sleep but I'll be back tomorrow," she said.
The honour of being the very first shoppers through the door went to Catherine Veltom from Shankill in Dublin and her four children, David (16), Daniel (14), James (10) and Megan (8), who won a radio competition for a bedroom makeover at the store. They were paraded through the doors to a fanfare and cheers from Ikea staff.
Many customers already had their shopping lists at the ready and several claimed they had noticed a price difference between some of the goods in Dublin and at the Belfast store.
"It takes the shine off it a little bit," said Claire Robinson from Clonee, Co Meath, who had arrived shortly after 6am yesterday with her sister Jane.
"But it's still better value than in other Irish stores and its much better quality," she said.
One shopper, who didn't want to be named, cornered store manager Garry Deakin and claimed that some good s were up to 30pc more expensive than in Ikea, Belfast.
Mr Deakin, who performed the traditional log cutting ceremony to officially open the store, admitted that they would have preferred to have had their launch five years ago.
"The timing is not great. But if you asked now would we still build a store here today if we had to, then the answer is yes. We are here for the long term."
He also accepted that some products would be less expensive in their Belfast store, but equally other products would be priced the same or would be cheaper in Dublin.
However, shoppers will have to live with higher VAT rates.
"We will never absorb VAT differences in any country. VAT is not our money -- it's paid straight to Revenue," he said.
Yesterday's arrival of Ikea in Dublin was never going to be anything grander than a "soft opening" and the company never expected the store to be mobbed with shoppers.
"We have never yet opened a new store on a Monday because it's one of the lowest return trading days of the week," he said.