For the last decade in Shanghai, the Swedish furniture maker, IKEA, has established a tremendous following and in many ways has become much more than a place to shop for locals in the congested Xuhui district.
To many Chinese, the huge stores have become a second home, with families congregating at the weekend to nap on the display beds and eat in the cafe.
Shanghai’s first IKEA is always packed with shoppers on their own particular mission for attractive European furniture, exotic food like Swedish meatballs or even just a free bed upon which to take a quick nap.
Last June, IKEA decided to open a second store in Shanghai, making it the only city in China with more than one IKEA. This one is also the biggest in Asia and the second largest in the world.
Here love blossoms among the display furniture in the form of large groups of middle-age men and women who browse through the enormous store in search of alas, not a new bed or kitchen cabinet, but rather a new love.
Every Tuesday afternoon, in a special area set up specifically for would-be lovers, the store offers free coffee to card-holding members.
This move was highly strategic, as this way other customers who might want to buy a bed or other furniture aren’t disturbed by the “singles chatting.”
The new IKEA offers 60 sample rooms and 2,000 parking spaces. The goal is to serve as many meatballs as possible, which can be an enormous amount considering that the dining area can accomodate 760 people at the same time.
Will the next step be catering weddings at Ikea?
Splendor in the grass can even happen in a furniture store.