Welcome to IKEA Beijing, where the atmosphere is more theme park than store.
When the Swedish furniture giant first opened here in 1999, it hoped locals would embrace its European brand of minimalism. A decade later, Beijingers have done just that. Perhaps too much.
Every weekend, thousands of looky-loos pour into the massive showroom to use the displays. Some hop into bed, slide under the covers and sneak a nap; others bring cameras and pose with the decor. Families while away the afternoon in the store for no other reason than to enjoy the air conditioning.
Visitors can’t seem to resist novelties most Americans take for granted, such as free soda refills and ample seating. They also like the laid-back staffers who don’t mind when a child jumps on a couch.
Purchasing anything at Yi Jia, as the store is called here, can seem like an afterthought.